January 31, 2015

Iowa jury convicts Nebraska filmmaker of tax fraud

An Iowa jury has convicted a Nebraska filmmaker of defrauding the state out of tax credits.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller accused Dennis Brouse of making false expenditure statements to the state in applying for tax credits to offset his expenses in producing “Saddle Up with Dennis Brouse.”

Brouse, who is 64 and from Plattsmouth, produced and starred in the public television and DVD series which featured him training difficult horses. Brouse, as owner of “Changing Horse Productions,” applied for tax credits through the Iowa Film Office tax credit program.

A jury in Polk County convicted Brouse of first-degree fraud. The verdict today came after the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed a 2012 verdict that convicted Brouse of the same fraud charge.

A sentencing hearing has been set for March 23rd.

Omaha woman dies after police involved shooting

The Omaha woman injured in a police involved shooting Tuesday has died. She is identified as Tiffany Terry and she passed away at Nebraska Medicine Hospital Thursday evening. 

Police were dispatched to an assault in progress Tuesday afternoon to a home at 50th and Walnut Street in the midtown area. A man at that address told police he and his 18 year old daughter were attacked by the girl’s mother identified as Terry. 

Omaha Police Officer Emilio Luna knocked on the door of a house they were told Terry entered. Terry opened and rushed out the doorway screaming expletives at Officer Luna. She was also armed with several knives and threatened the officer who jumped off the deck to avoid the attack. Other officers at the scene ordered Terry to drop the knife at least eight times without doing so. Officer Luna and Officer Matthew Digilio fired several shots hitting Terry. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition. 

Officer’s Digilio and Luna are on administrative leave pending an internal and grand jury investigation.

Chief Justice tells lawmakers alternatives to prison show promise (AUDIO)

Chief Justice Mike Heavican

Chief Justice Mike Heavican

Nebraska Chief Justice Mike Heavican told lawmakers alternative sentencing holds promise in reducing the prison population, during his State of the Judiciary address.

Heavican said the 16 so-called problem solving courts, such as drug courts, DUI courts, and young adult courts, provided treatment under supervised probation to a thousand Nebraskans.

“Assuming that half these individuals would have been sentenced to incarceration, the cost savings to taxpayers was a minimum of $15 million,” according to Heavican.

He said a 2012 statewide study of drug courts showed that 95% of those who successfully completed the program were crime-free a year later. The program isn’t offered throughout Nebraska.

The other alternative sentencing program that shows promise is called Specialized Substance Abuse Supervision, known as SASS. It has worked so well, 16 new officers are being added.

“Adding these officers has doubled the capacity of the SSAS program,” Heavican said. “It will cost just under $2-and-a-half million to supervise individuals within SSAS this year, which is a substantial savings when compared to the cost of incarceration.”

Heavican served on the 19-member Justice Reinvestment Working Group, in which members of all three branches of state government reviewed alternative sentencing programs under the supervision of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Heavican says the alternatives not only should be pursued to ease prison overcrowding, but to get at the root of the problems that lead to crime.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

AUDIO:  Chief Justice Mike Heavican delivers State of the Judiciary address to Unicameral. [25 min.]



Elm Creek clerk charged with pilfering more than $10,000

HandcuffsThe village clerk in Elm Creek is charged with embezzling from the town’s coffers.

Forty-nine-year-old Wendy Stephens of Elm Creek was charged this week in Buffalo County Court with one count of theft totaling more than $1,500, a class III felony.

Stephens was arraigned Tuesday. According to court records six altered checks had been discovered during an audit of the Elm Creek village funds.

On Monday, a Buffalo County Deputy Sheriff visited Stephens to ask why the checks had been altered.

Stephens told the deputy she wrote the checks for bills the village didn’t need to pay. She and a village board member would then each sign the checks. Before sending the checks Stephens would white out the “Pay to” portion of the check, write “Visa” in its place and then change the amount to pay her credit card bill.

The six checks were written for more than $1,000 each and totaled $10,518.

Stephens is scheduled to undergo a preliminary hearing in Buffalo County Court on February 10th. She remains free on $2,000 bond. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Elkhorn man sentenced to five years on child pornography charges

An Elkhorn man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Federal prosecutors say 25-year-old Trevor McLaurine formerly lived in Richland, Washington.

An investigation by the Nebraska Attorney General’s office led to McLaurine’s residence in Elkhorn in which investigators discovered more than 8,000 files of child pornography.

A federal judge also ordered McLaurine to pay $3,500 restitution to the victims. He will serve five years of supervised release after his prison term ends and will be required to register as a sex offender.