Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Kentucky News Briefs

Tax amnesty yields $145K in a few days

        FRANKFORT - Less than a week into Kentucky's tax amnesty window, the results are showing up in dollars and cents.

        Through Tuesday afternoon, 39 taxpayers have paid $145,827.43 for amnesty settlements, according to Revenue Cabinet spokesman Alex Rose.

        “We think that's impressive,” he said.

        The nearly 90,000 applications for amnesty that the Cabinet mailed to taxpayers already involved in disputes were not arriving in mailboxes until this week.

        Most of the settlements are from businesses, but a few individuals have also made payments, Mr. Rose said.

        The amnesty program began Aug. 1 and will run until Sept. 30.

        Revenue officials estimate they will reap $20 million this fiscal year. Another $7 million next year is expected to come from taxpayers who step forward and wind up on the regular tax rolls.

        Mr. Rose said the Cabinet has received nearly 1,000 inquiries about amnesty. Officials expect to get the vast majority of payments at the end of the amnesty period.

        Virtually all state taxes are eligible for amnesty, which also allows payments to settle claims without penalty, interest or risk of prosecution.

        Property taxes on real estate, motor vehicles and other levies that are payable to local officials are not eligible for amnesty.

        Taxes incurred from Dec. 1, 1987, to Nov. 30, 2001, are eligible for the amnesty. People who owe back taxes who are tracked down after the amnesty will face larger penalties and fees.

Children's Law Center gets $11K grant

        COVINGTON — The Children's Law Center Inc. has received a grant from the American Bar Association to represent children in divorce, guardianship and adoption proceedings.

        The $11,000 award was the largest of six awards granted to agencies nationwide to increase the number of children receiving pro bono representation in private custody cases. The center represents children in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.

        Attorney Karen Tapp will serve as director of the new Child Custody Pro Bono Project. She has been in practice for 15 years and has served as managing attorney at the center for five years. Elizabeth Mitts, a law student at the

        at Northern Kentucky University has been hired as the project coordinator.

        Recruitment letters have been sent to law firms and individual attorneys soliciting their participation. Pro bono panel attorneys will provide direct representation to children in custody and visitation proceedings where significant interests for the child are at risk.

        The attorneys will agree to accept about two cases per year through the project. The project is also seeking attorneys to act as mentors.

        For information, call the center at (859) 431-3313.

2 teens plead guilty in Ludlow shooting

        COVINGTON — Two female juveniles have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a shooting in June in Ludlow, Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson announced Tuesday.

        The teens, whose names are not being released, were convicted of first-degree facilitation to assault.

        They will be sentenced in Kenton County juvenile court on Sept. 6.

        Xavier Smith, 18, of Chicago, has also been charged in Kenton County District Court with first-degree assault for his involvement in the shooting.

        The girls were passengers in Mr. Smith's car the day of the shooting.

        Ludlow police allege Mr. Smith shot Douglas Gambrel in the abdomen on the front porch of a home in the 200 block of Deverill Street. University Hospital surgeons could not remove one of the bullets, and Mr. Gambrel said the shooting has left him disabled.

        Mr. Gambrel lives in Covington and was visiting friends when he was allegedly shot in a dispute over loud music being played in the car.

        “These juveniles will receive an appropriate punishment for their connection to the shooting,” Mr. Edmondson said.

        Mr. Smith has a juvenile record in Chicago.

Ky. joins campaign to get drunks off road

        FRANKFORT - Kentucky has been included in a federal campaign to crack down on drunken driving through Labor Day, Kentucky State Police officials said Tuesday.

        The campaign is to include traffic checkpoints and “saturation patrols” in high-crash areas to identify and arrest impaired drivers, a statement from the agency said.

        The campaign - “You Drink and Drive. You Lose” - is by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Enforcement will be increased from Aug. 22 through Sept. 3, the statement said.

        The state police's spokeswoman, Lt. Lisa Rudzinski, said Kentucky is the only state in an eight-state southeastern region selected by NHTSA for the campaign.

        She said that was partly because of Kentucky's drunken-driving laws, which have been amended in recent years to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit and to prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles.

        State police say 5,853 crashes and 172 highway deaths in Kentucky last year were alcohol-related. Drunken driving arrests totaled 48,892.

Politician accused of murder free until trial

        McKEE, Ky. - A local politician charged with murdering a woman who accused him of sexual harassment will be allowed to remain free pending trial.

        Circuit Judge Cletus Maricle refused Tuesday to send Jerry Dean back to jail as prosecutors had requested, but he did order that Mr. Dean stay away from a community where a potential witness lives.

        “I can't find that Mr. Dean has violated his bond,” Judge Maricle said at the conclusion of a two-hour hearing in the Jackson County Courthouse.

        Mr. Dean, who has served about 12 years as Jackson County clerk, is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 22 for the murder of Audrey Marcum, a former deputy clerk who filed a $30 million sexual harassment lawsuit against Mr. Dean.

        Mr. Dean, 58, is charged with shooting Ms. Marcum to death with a high-powered rifle Nov. 17. Ms. Marcum, 31, had worked in Mr. Dean's office from April 1995 to August 1999.

        Mr. Dean was released from jail in February when family and friends pledged their property to cover his $750,000 bond.

        He is supposed to remain at home except when attending church or working in his office at the courthouse in McKee.

Historic bridge opening next week

        BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Final details are being added to the RiverWalk over Barren River for the historic walking bridge's opening next week.

        The RiverWalk is the first phase in a plan to connect parks with downtown, neighborhoods and other spots, said Helen Tyson Siewers, greenways coordinator for the Greenways Commission of Bowling Green and Warren County.

        The RiverWalk will include a large, granite map of Warren County, an information kiosk, restrooms and a scenic overlook, Ms. Siewers said.

        The grand opening celebration is scheduled for Aug. 13. State House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will speak at the event.


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