December 20, 2014

Supreme Court rules cable company serving Sioux City also a phone company

The Iowa Supreme Court says an Arizona company providing phone service via the internet to western Iowa can be taxed as a phone company. Cable One Incorporated provides cable TV services to Sioux City, and in 2006 it began offering what’s called Voice over the Internet Phone service. The Iowa Department of Revenue ruled the internet phone service qualified Cable One as a telephone company and it should pay state property tax.

Cable One argued its wiring was not originally installed to provide telephone service and it should not have to pay the tax. An Administrative Law Judge, and a later Polk County District Court ruled Cable One was operating a cable broadband network and not phone lines, so it shouldn’t be defined as a phone company.

The Iowa Supreme Court looked at the historical interpretation of laws governing technology and says when telephone service began while the telegraph was still being used, phone service was not mentioned in state statutes. But the courts found both services provided communication through wires through different methods are were both subject to taxes. The Supreme Court says even though Cable One’s telephone service is provided through wires originally intended for cable TV, it is still acting as a telephone company.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the district court for more action.

See the full ruling here: Internet phone ruling PDF

Suspect caught in Cedar Rapids bank robbery

A suspect is in custody following an eastern Iowa bank robbery. Police responded to the robbery of a U.S. Bank branch on 16th Avenue Southwest in Cedar Rapids shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday. The suspect had displayed a handgun and left with cash. No one in the bank was injured.

The man left the bank on foot. An investigation led police to arrest 44-year-old Tony Alan Spies of Cedar Rapids. He was found last night in an apartment about two miles away from the bank. Spies is charged with first-degree robbery.


Escaped sex offender caught in Des Moines County

Shane Lieb

Shane Lieb

A sex offender who escaped from a southeast Iowa work release facility last weekend is back in custody. A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Corrections says 40-year-old Shane Lieb fled a vehicle during a traffic stop on Saturday while being transported from the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility to the Burlington Work Release facility.

He was captured Thursday and taken to the Des Moines County Jail. Lieb is serving a “special” life sentence for third-degree sex abuse in Mount Pleasant. He began serving the prison sentence in July 2009 and was in the process of being discharged to the work release program at the time he escaped.


Group seeks to refocus attention on 1992 murder of Grinnell College student

Tammy Zywicki

Tammy Zywicki

The kidnapping and murder of a Grinnell College student 22 years ago remains an unsolved case and a new group aims to refocus attention on the crime. The Task Force for Tammy, directed by two Grinnell College graduates who were friends of the victim, wants to jump-start the investigation.

Grinnell senior Tammy Zywicki was on her way to Grinnell in 1992 when her car broke down along Interstate 80 in Illinois. Nine days later her body was found about 500 miles away in a ditch alongside Interstate 44 near Springfield, Missouri. An on-line campaign has been launched at in hopes of re-starting the investigation into the crime.

The FBI assisted local law enforcement agencies with the investigation but, by early 1993, the combined task force was disbanded without finding Zywicki’s killer. T

he Task Force for Tammy aims to gather 10,000 signatures supporting the petition, which is addressed to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The petition urges them to instruct the Illinois State Police to release more information that could help solve the 22-year-old case.

(Reporting by Chris Johnson, KGRN, Grinnell)

Shenandoah man sentenced to prison on child porn charge

A southwest Iowa man has been sentenced to nearly five years in a federal prison on a child pornography charge. Nearly two years ago investigators found “sexually explicit” photos of a 15-year-old girl on the computer of 30-year-old A. J. Simmons of Shenandoah. This past June Simmons plead guilty to possession of child pornography.

This week he was sentenced to serve 57 months in a federal prison, followed by 10 years of probation. There is no parole in the federal system.


Former Clarke University bookstore director pleads guilty to theft

Prosecutors expect the former director of a university bookstore in Dubuque to plead guilty today to stealing more than $300,000 dollars from the school. James Spaulding was the director of the bookstore on the Clarke University campus in Dubuque.

Prosecutors say Spaulding and a friend set up a fictitious company in New Hampshire, where Spaulding’s mother lived, and billed the university for books from that fictional firm — books that were never delivered. Spaulding’s friend cashed the checks from Clarke University and then sent Spaulding a cashier check for his share in the scheme. He was charged with one count of mail fraud and two counts of filing false tax returns.


Marshalltown police release names in fatal shooting

Police have released new information about Wednesday’s fatal shooting of a man by police officers in Marshalltown. Marshalltown Police Chief Michael Tupper identifies the person who was killed as 25-year-old Andrew Jay Worsfold of Marshalltown.

The police officers involved were not injured. They are identified as 49-year-old Ramon Maxey, who has been on the force for six years, and 23-year-old Benjamin Scheevel, who has been on the force less than a year. The officers are on paid administrative leave pending the completion of an investigation by the Iowa DCI. The shooting occurred Wednesday at 3:47 a.m. Police say Worsfold — who was armed — was critically wounded and taken to a local hospital where he later died.

Worsfold was in area where an armed robbery had occurred the previous morning. Police say Worsfold pointed his gun at officers and there was an exchange of shots.

(Reporting by Chuck Shockley, KFJB, Marshalltown)