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.

More struggles for family of Omaha murder victim

It has been a rough few weeks for the family of Andrea Kruger. The Omaha woman was one of Nikko Jenkins victims when he went on a killing spree a year-and-a-half ago. Her brother Ryan Roberts says their 56 year old mother, Teri came down with toxic shock syndrome related to a bacterial infection in December and had to have both ands and feet amputated

Roberts says his mother was in a coma for 12 days and the family was in the process of making a difficult decision when he got a call from his dad.

Roberts says, “He said mom woke up. She doesn’t want to be with Andrea yet and she doesn’t care that they cut off her hands and feet. For whatever reason it wasn’t her time yet. She magically woke up literally four hours before we took her off life support. It was the best Christmas present I could ever imagine.”

Roberts says the struggles are not over yet. Teri was fitted with four prosthetics and will have to learn to walk all over again and use her new hands. He says she already started using an iPad with her elbow and is ready to tackle all obstacles in her path. Her goal is to be able to play with her grandchildren and be able to drive them around again.

Lawmakers working to cut property taxes, leave schools unharmed

Sen. Lydia Brasch/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Service

Sen. Lydia Brasch/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Service

Supporters of cuts to property taxes say they will take into account what those cuts mean for school financing.

State lawmakers are reviewing a number of proposals to provide property tax breaks to Nebraska, especially to farmers and ranchers.

State Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse says the Unicameral must find a way to relieve the tax burden on Nebraskans.

“In the last two years that I’ve served in the legislature, it still comes down to one main issue that I hear time and time again whether I’m talking to rural people or the urban side in my district, people want to talk about property taxes,” Watermeier tells Nebraska reporters.

Watermeier sponsors two bills. LB 178 would lower the assessed valuation of agricultural land from the current 75% of market value to 65% over a four-year period. LB 364 would inject $60 million into the Property Tax Credit Program.

State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft also sponsors two property tax bills. LB 350 also would lower the assessed valuation of agricultural land from 75% to 65%. A companion piece of legislation, LB 351, seeks to offset the loss of revenue to local school districts.

LB 351 would allocate 25% of the state income tax collected from residents of a local school district back to the district.

“Our current law only calls for 12% of income taxes that are collected locally to be returned to the school district,” Brasch says.

It would also remove the minimum tax levy penalty that penalizes school districts for lowering tax levies below a certain level.

“And what that means is that every school district in the state will receive some form of state assistance and that more state dollars would reduce the property taxes, particularly to those unequalized districts in the state,” according to Brasch.

Jay Rempe with the Nebraska Farm Bureau says the bureau has crunched the numbers and even if taxing districts respond by raising their levies, agriculture would still get a break.

“We calculated roughly that even assuming tax levy increases that schools would make up the levy or other local governments would raise their levy to make up the difference it would still result in a net $80 million worth of property tax savings to farmers and ranchers across the state,” according to Rempe.

The Farm Bureau points out that though farmers and ranchers make up only three percent of the Nebraska population, they pay 30% of the property taxes.

Second confirmed case of measles in eastern Nebraska

The Three Rivers Health Department that serves Dodge, Saunders and Washington Counties reports a second confirmed case of the measles. Executive Director Terra Uhing says a child who resides within the region was diagnosed this week after coming down with flu-like symptoms.

Uhing says they continue to investigate to see if the two cases are linked. The first case is a secondary link to the measles outbreak at Disneyland.

The child visited two Blair businesses, Little Blossoms Childcare and Jake’s Sports Bar and Grill on January 20th through the 23rd from 7 am to 10 pm. The time includes a two hour window after the child left during which the measles virus could still infect an individual.

Uhing says health officials have been in contact with parents of children attending the daycare and recommendations were given regarding vaccinations or other treatment. She says anyone who is not immune should self quarantine for 21 days after exposure as a precaution.

Health officials say the measles is an extremely contagious virus that spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms begin within 7 to 14 days after exposure. It can cause severe complications like pneumonia and encephalitis. Those most at risk are those who have had only one dose of the MMR vaccine or have not previously had the measles.