October 25, 2014

Former U-I employee given probation on mail fraud charges

A former University of Iowa employee will not serve prison time after admitting to mail fraud. A U.S. District Court judge sentenced 37-year-old Jennifer Whitmore-Meier of Avon, Colorado to three years probation after she plead guilty to three counts of mail fraud.

Court records show Whitmore-Meier was an I-T consultant for the University of Iowa Hospitals between 2003 and 2011 when she purchased 567 items with university funds without approval. She then sold the items on-line for more than $122,000.

She also admitted to buying personal items online and paying for their shipping with university funds.


Volga man charged with sexual abuse

James Miller

James Miller

A northeast Iowa man is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman. The Fayette County Sheriff’s office has charged 58-year-old James Miller of Volga with third-degree sexual abuse, assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse, and third-degree harassment.

Deputies claim Miller assaulted the victim several times in the Elgin area. If convicted of all charges, Miller would face up to 23 years in prison. The Clayton County Sheriff’s office is investigating claims that Miller also assaulted the victim in Volga.


Iowa Supreme Court rules out video testimony in Dubuque County case

Iowa Supreme Court building.

Iowa Supreme Court building.

The Iowa Supreme Court has overturned a lower court ruling that would have allowed witnesses in a Dubuque County case to testify via video link. Zacariah Rogerson wrecked his car on August 13th of 2012 and in the process three passengers in the vehicle suffered multiple injuries.

He was charged with four counts of unintentionally causing serious injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle. The state sought to have witnesses who lived out of state and officials with the state crime lab in Ankeny testify via a two-way videoconferencing system. Rogerson appealed, saying the videoconferencing would violated his Six Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state did not show any exceptional circumstances for using the videoconferencing testimony. And it said while technology now makes such testimony very close to a face-to-face confrontation, the court does not believe it is the constitutional equivalent of the confrontation envisioned in the Sixth Amendment.

See the full ruling here: Video testimony PDF


Former Clinton man given prison time for bank robbery

A former Clinton man has been sentenced to prison for robbing a bank last year. Police said 22-year-old Shane Hoiland entered the Lyon’s branch of the Clinton National Bank on February 25, 2013 and handed a teller a note demanding money. He left with cash that the teller placed in a paper bag.

Hoiland was arrested and charged earlier this year after he was identified as the suspect from bank surveillance video. This week, a federal judge sentenced Hoiland to four years in prison.

He was also ordered to pay restitution to the Clinton National Bank for the money taken in the robbery.

Knoxville man arrested after shooting

Ricky Hyatt

Ricky Hyatt

One man is in jail and another is hospitalized following a shooting in south-central Iowa last night. Knoxville Police were called to a home shortly after 7:30 p.m. and learned there had been a possible shooting in the area.

A hospital informed police a short time later that a 28-year-old man had arrived with a gunshot wound. The victim, who’s name and condition have not been released, was transferred to a hospital in Des Moines.

The investigation led police to arrest 59-year-old Ricky Hyatt of Knoxville. He’s being held in the Marion County Jail on a charge of willful injury.


Beware of bogus World Series tickets and Ebola email scams

With Game Two of the World Series tonight in Kansas City, many Iowans are planning road trips if they can snap up deals on tickets. Jim Hegarty, with the Better Business Bureau, says if you’re shopping at an online ticket broker, proceed with extreme caution.

“I would really make sure to check their reputation, look for reviews,” Hegarty says. “You can check the BBB to see if they’ve met our standards. Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system.” If you’re trying to buy Royals-Giants tickets through an online auction house, Hegarty says to make sure the seller is legit and has a long history of satisfied customers.

Iowans also need to watch for suspicious email about the Ebola outbreak. Hegarty says scammers are sending out mass emails that bill themselves as containing an important health update. “People are really curious, they want to know what’s going on and they’ll click on those,” he says, “and those can contain malware that can install some nasty stuff on your computer.”

Hegarty says Iowans who want to donate money for relief efforts in Ebola-stricken areas should only do so through reputable charities.


Jackson County farmer finds entire field of beans stolen

A Jackson County farmer reported an entire field of soybeans was stolen.

A Jackson County farmer reported an entire field of soybeans was stolen.

In the days of the Old West, pioneers had to worry about cattle rustlers, but an Iowa farmer discovered this week someone rustled his entire crop.

The farmer from northeast Iowa’s Jackson County also has a field on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and he says somebody ripped him off.

Matt Schuster of La Motte says he went to check on his 18 acres of soybeans near East Dubuque, Illinois, and found only bare ground. Roughly 1,600 bushels of beans vanished from the field. That’s about $18,000 worth.

Neighbors say they saw the combine but thought it was a hired hand at the wheel.