Louisiana news briefs
Law enforcement making push against drunken driving
LAKE CHARLES (AP) — Law enforcement from around the state are in the midst of a statewide push to curb impaired driving.
‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ will continue through Labor Day, Sept. 1.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating the efforts.
During the 2013 Labor Day holiday, 11 people were killed in vehicle accidents around the state, seven of those in alcohol-related crashes, according to numbers from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
Additionally, alcohol has been a factor in around 40 percent of all vehicles deaths in recent years.
Rayville tax preparer accused of $325,000 tax fraud
BATON ROUGE (AP)— Louisiana’s Department of Revenue says a Rayville tax preparer is accused of using fake business losses to inflate customers’ tax returns.
Spokesman Byron Henderson says Donald Ray Jackson allegedly cost Louisiana taxpayers more than $325,000 in fraudulent refunds.
Jackson was booked Friday into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on nine counts each of computer fraud and filing false public records, and released on $9,000 bond.
Henderson’s news release says two of Jackson’s clients told investigators their businesses did not have any losses, and seven said they did not own businesses.
Henderson says fake business losses are among tax frauds targeted by the department and the state Attorney General’s Office in an initiative that has brought 31 arrests since March 2013.
Woman dies crossing
street after getting mail
ST. AMANT — Louisiana State Police say a 67-year-old St. Amant woman has been hit and killed by a car as she crossed the street after picking up her mail.
Trooper Jared Sandifer says the driver of a pickup truck was unable to avoid Karen Russell as she crossed La. 431 north of Louisiana 934 in Ascension Parish about 11 a.m. Monday.
He says the driver was not cited.
Vermilion-Lafayette boundary dispute goes to court
LAFAYETTE (AP)— Vermilion Parish is fighting efforts by neighboring Lafayette Parish to move the parish line farther south. Vermilion considers the land its own under a 2002 boundary agreement thought to have ended decades of dispute over where the border should be.
The Vermilion Parish Police Jury filed a lawsuit this month in state court in Abbeville to enforce the 12-year-old boundary agreement.
The move comes after Lafayette city-parish government began making efforts last year to void the compact and draw the parish line anew. Some city-parish officials arguing the boundary drawn after the 2002 agreement was based on incomplete research of historical records.
No court date has been set in lawsuit.
Woman sentenced to 8 years in Medicare fraud case
BATON ROUGE (AP)— A Baton Rouge woman has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for orchestrating an elaborate scheme to bilk Medicare out of hundreds of millions of dollars for unnecessary or never-provided services.
Hoor Naz Jafri, 54, also has been ordered to repay $43.5 million as restitution, along with an undetermined amount of ill-gotten profits she amassed. Jafri previously had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as well as conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks.
She is one of 17 people convicted in a wide-ranging investigation that began in 2011.
Jafri is a naturalized citizen and a native of India.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian Jackson issued the sentence on Monday.
Contractor struggles with delays on La. 73 project
PRAIRIEVILLE — A $15.5 million project to widen La. 73 in Ascension Parish faces more delays.
Officials say the project projected to be finished a year later than its original end date of October 2013, won’t be finished for another eight to 10 months.
Dustin Annison, state Department of Transportation and Development spokesman, said this week the project is running into some of the same problems that caused past delays: rain, trouble fitting utilities in tight rights of way and unforeseen sewer work not in the original plans.
Annison says the estimated completion date for the widening project is the second quarter of 2015.
The project involves widening two-lane La. 73 into a three-lane highway over a 2.3-mile stretch between Airline Highway and the Interstate 10/La. 621 interchange.
Terrebonne seeks crackdown on illegal dumping
HOUMA — Illegal disposal of trash has caught the attention of the Terrebonne Parish Council.
The council will discuss a measure Aug. 25 aimed at increased enforcement for littering and illegal dumping.
Councilman John Navy said problems areas in rural canals and drainage ditches have been addressed in the past, but problems persist.
If there is a downpour or hurricane, Navy says the increased debris could increase flooding and make cleanup and relief efforts more difficult.
Navy said he would like to see increased enforcement for illegal dumping in the form of stricter fines and more active policing.
2 more arrests in drive-by shooting that killed 2
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A third man and a woman were arrested Monday in connection with a drive-by shooting that killed two people and injured five others in New Orleans, police said.
Joseph Nelson III, 23, is accused of being one of two gunmen who fired into a group on Aug. 10, police said in a news release. They said Ashley Shorts, 25, allegedly helped one of the men avoid detection.
Police say Nelson was booked with two counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted first-degree murder, and Shorts was booked with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Nelson was on probation until April 23, 2016, for a burglary conviction, a police news release said.
Police booked two men last week — Blair Taylor, 20, on the same charges as Nelson, and Jeffrey Rivers, 25, as a principal to those crimes — for allegedly providing the car and a gun that Taylor used.
The gunfire erupted shortly before 8 p.m. in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, killing Terrance McBride, 33, who police said was the shooters’ intended target, and Jasmine Anderson, 16.
The gunshots also seriously wounded two small boys and their mother.
Ronal Serpas, who retired Monday as the city’s police chief, said last week that investigators believe the shooting was drug-related, but has not given any details.