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News in Brief

Ky. prepares for individual income tax season

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s revenue department is making its final preparations for the start of income tax season. The agency is urging Kentucky taxpayers to file as early as possible.

It says the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper federal tax returns on Jan. 29. They will begin processing paper returns later in mid-February as IRS system updates continue.

The state revenue department says it also will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns on Jan. 29. It says the state will begin processing individual income tax refunds as soon as possible and not later than Feb. 26. It says the date has been pushed back from Kentucky’s usual Feb. 15 date to allow more time to test counter-fraud measures.

State attorney general sues national opioid distributor

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general has sued a national opioid distributor for allegedly using misleading business practices to flood the state with dangerous and highly addictive prescription painkillers.

Andy Beshear announced Monday he has sued the San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation for, among other things, failing to report large volumes of opioid shipments in eastern Kentucky with state and federal authorities.

Beshear says in Floyd County alone between 2010 and 2016, the company shipped more than 18 million doses of prescription opioids. That’s enough for 477 pills for every man, woman and child in the county based on its population of 38,638.

McKesson has settled two similar lawsuits with the federal government in recent years.

This is the second lawsuit Beshear has filed against opioid distributors. He sued Endo Pharmaceuticals and Endo Health Solutions in November.

Kentucky Proud members urged to apply for grant programs

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is inviting Kentucky Proud members to apply to participate in programs that help showcase the state’s farm sector.

The Kentucky Proud Farm to Fork and Promotional Grant programs are administered by the state agriculture department. Funding comes from a grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.

Quarles says the programs highlight Kentucky Proud products produced by farmers and agribusinesses. He says his department looks forward to reviewing applications for both programs.

The Kentucky Proud Farm to Fork program provides funding to qualifying applicants for dinners that showcase local foods. The program also promotes agri-tourism businesses.

The Kentucky Proud Promotional Grant Program reimburses 50 percent of eligible advertising and marketing expenses that incorporate the Kentucky Proud logo to promote ag products.

Accused judge-executive found dead at home

MORGANFIELD, Ky. (AP) — A coroner says a Kentucky judge-executive charged with using his position to solicit gifts and payments has been found dead at his home.

Union County coroner Stephen Shouse tells The Gleaner that the body of 44-year-old Joseph L. “Jody” Jenkins was discovered Sunday morning.

Shouse says an autopsy is planned Monday at a medical examiner’s office in Madisonville.

Jenkins was charged in September with four counts of scheming to defraud the county.

Federal prosecutors said Jenkins was accused of soliciting and accepting approximately $20,000 in cash in 2014 in his official position as Union County judge-executive. The money allegedly came from someone identified only as “J.H.” Prosecutors said in return, Jenkins directed that false invoices be submitted by “J.H.” for payment by the county for purchase of equipment.

Minor earthquake strikes parts of central Ky.

WILMORE, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says a minor earthquake has struck parts of central Kentucky.

The 2.7 magnitude earthquake struck south of Wilmore on Saturday night at a depth of about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers).

There were no immediate reports of damage.

Wilmore is about 20 miles southwest of Lexington.

W.Va. to receive another elk shipment from Ky.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s fledgling elk herd will get another boost from a recreation area in Kentucky.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan and Mingo counties will receive 17 elk from Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.

“This is great news for all West Virginians as we continue to restore this magnificent native species to our state,” Gov. Jim Justice said in making the announcement Friday.

Paul Johansen, wildlife chief for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, said the arrangement has been in the works for about two months.

“The folks at (Land Between the Lakes) reached out and notified us that they had some surplus animals they were seeking a home for,” he said. “Of course we were interested.”

The natural resources division will pay the U.S. Forest Service $500 for each elk, he said.

DNR officials will travel to western Kentucky in early February to help with the processing.

The 17 elk earmarked for West Virginia will be radio-collared, implanted with microchips, tested for diseases and quarantined for 30 days while the test results are analyzed. At the end of the quarantine period, DNR workers will transport the animals to West Virginia.

Johansen said the DNR is particularly interested in getting a few more breeding-age cows to more rapidly expand the state’s elk population.

A previous shipment from Land Between the Lakes consisted of 12 cows and 12 bulls, which were released in late 2016. Of those 12 cows, three were pregnant and bore calves in June 2017.

The DNR also has an arrangement in place to receive 70 elk from Arizona. DNR personnel will travel there on Jan. 21 to assist with the capture and processing of those animals. Agency officials expect the Arizona animals to be shipped to West Virginia early this spring.

4th person charged in death of man found in toolbox

LEITCHFIELD, Ky. (AP) — A fourth person has been charged in the 2016 death of a man whose body was found inside a large toolbox floating in a Kentucky creek.

Kentucky State Police said in a release Sunday that 59-year-old Melanie D. Howard was arrested Friday and charged with murder, kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence and second-degree unlawful imprisonment in the August 2016 death of 29-year-old Tromain Mackall. It’s unclear if she has a lawyer.

Two men, 33-year-old Christopher S. Hill and 48-year-old William E. Howard Jr., were previously charged with murder and other offenses in Mackall’s death, while 29-year-old Marcus Branden Boyken was arrested in December and charged with tampering with physical evidence.

Mackall’s disappearance was first reported July 25, 2016. WDRB-TV reports that his body was found nearly a week later.

Ky. assistant police chief fired for racist messages

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Court documents have revealed what ended the 25-year law enforcement career of an assistant police chief in the Louisville suburb of Prospect, Kentucky.

Media outlets report that acting Chief Todd Shaw sent what Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell calls “highly disturbing racist and threatening Facebook messages” to a Louisville police recruit who had sought his advice. Among other things, Shaw advised the recruit to shoot black kids caught smoking marijuana, and then sexually assault their parents.

Shaw’s lawyer, Michael Burns, says he was just “playing” with these and other messages.

“Mr. Shaw held a distinguished career in law enforcement for nearly 30 years,” Burns said. “Throughout his career, he treated all people fairly and respectfully regardless of their race.”

In another message, Shaw, who is white, disparaged the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., calling him a racist womanizer, and saying “because someone shot him, I get a day off with pay each year.”

Shaw resigned in November after his boss presented him with the messages. O’Connell said Shaw sent the private Facebook messages in September and October 2016.

A judge ordered the evidence released last week. Media outlets had requested the messages under the state Open Records Act. Shaw had sought to keep them secret.

Prospect Mayor John Evans said “the city finds the content of the messages to be abhorrent, disgusting and reprehensible.”

Shaw spent five years with Prospect police and worked for more than 20 years with the Louisville Metro Police Department. The messages were found during a separate investigation into allegations of sex abuse in a Louisville police mentoring program. Two other former Louisville police officers have been charged in that case.

Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad said he was disgusted by Shaw’s messages and that “any person who holds these thoughts has no business ever donning a uniform and representing those who have sworn to serve every member of every community.

“These actions spit in the face of the determined effort hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers put forth to build trust and legitimacy in the communities they serve,” the chief said.