Louisiana news briefs

Political newcomer picks up another endorsement
BATON ROUGE (AP)— Former congressman and Public Service Commissioner Clyde C. Holloway is supporting political newcomer, Republican businessman Vance McAllister, in the runoff for the vacant 5th Congressional District seat.
Holloway, a Republican from Forest Hill, finished fourth in the Oct. 19 open primary election that had 14 candidates. The third-place finisher, Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, also has endorsed McAllister.
State Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, finished first in the primary with nearly 32 percent of the votes cast. McAllister finished a distant second with almost 18 percent of the vote.
Holloway described McAllister as a “sound conservative” while contending that Riser is answering to political interests.
Riser has been the front-runner in the campaign since the special election was called in August to fill the seat vacated by Rodney Alexander, a Republican who left Congress to take a job in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
Holloway has repeatedly criticized the alleged effort by Alexander and Gov. Bobby Jindal to conspire to give Riser an edge in the campaign by having Alexander unexpectedly take a job in Jindal’s cabinet and open up the congressional seat. The involved parties have denied such allegations.
“All indications are that King Jindal and his political friends tried to anoint a congressman for the people of the 5th Congressional District and rig an election to put into office someone who simply takes orders from Bobby Jindal,” Holloway said in his announcement Monday.

Teen killed in ATV wreck
HOUMA (AP)— A 14-year-old boy was killed over the weekend when a wrecked ATV overturned and landed on him.
Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis says John Farmer, an eighth-grader at Houma Junior High, was one of four passengers in a Polaris utility vehicle that had been racing a four-wheeler on the streets of the Barrios subdivision Sunday.
The 13-year-old driver was “traveling at a high rate of speed” about 4:30 p.m. when he tried to turn a corner, and the Polaris flipped, ejecting a 12-year-old boy and partially ejecting Farmer. The Polaris landed on Farmer, killing him instantly.
The 12-year-old suffered a severe concussion. He remained hospitalized Monday in moderate condition.
The 13-year-old driver faces a charge of negligent homicide, negligent injury, no driver’s license and operating an unsafe vehicle. He remains in custody at the parish juvenile detention center.
Robin Reynolds, 45, who lives in the neighboring Mulberry subdivision, owned the Polaris, Duplantis said. She was given a summons for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and allowing unlicensed minors to drive.
“She gave them the keys,” police said.
Reynolds’ son was one of the boys on the four-wheeler, officers said. He was not hurt.
Two other boys, ages 11 and 13, got tickets for driving an unsafe vehicle and driving without a license. The two took turns driving the four-wheeler, police said.

Donelon: At least 80,000
face canceled policies
BATON ROUGE (AP)— Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says at least 80,000 people in Louisiana won’t be able to keep their current insurance coverage because of the federal health overhaul.
Donelon said Monday that he asked insurance companies doing business in Louisiana for a tally of how many customers had existing plans that can’t continue under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
He says at least 80,000 people will lose their current coverage. A few insurers haven’t yet sent back a response, so Donelon says he expects the final figure to be about 90,000 people whose coverage is being canceled because the policies don’t meet federal requirements.
Donelon says most of the policies are for people who pay for their own insurance, rather than getting it through their workplace or some other group.

Vitter seeks tougher response on food stamp misuse
BATON ROUGE (AP)— State leaders haven’t done enough to aggressively pursue food stamp recipients who overspent their balance when the electronic food stamp service was down last month, U.S. Sen. David Vitter said Monday.
Several Louisiana retailers, including Walmart stores in Mansfield and Springhill, allowed food stamp recipients to make unlimited purchases on Oct. 12, when the electronic card system was down across many states and balances couldn’t be checked.
Vitter accused people who overspent their benefits of theft and said they should be prosecuted and ousted from the food stamp program. He urged Suzy Sonnier, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to respond harshly to the incidents.
He sent the two state officials a letter last week, and followed up Monday with another letter saying he was disappointed with their responses to his concerns. He asked to meet with them in Baton Rouge to talk about it.

Officer resigns amid accusations
NEW ORLEANS (AP)— A New Orleans police officer has resigned after being accused in federal court of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
Six-year veteran Officer Jason Cross was named in a bill of information, usually a sign that the defendant is cooperating with authorities.
Court records show the alleged offense occurred in Jefferson Parish last January and was investigated by the FBI.
Cross, who was assigned to the 7th District, submitted his resignation on Friday.

Estrade pleads guilty
to threatening Letten’s life
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Before a jury could be selected for his trial, a Baton Rouge man has pleaded guilty to a charge that he threatened to murder former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and members of Letten’s family.
Gerald P. Estrade, 56, entered the plea Monday before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.
Estrade faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He served nearly 20 years behind bars for the 1988 manslaughter of his 10-year-old daughter, whose body was discovered in the woods in southern Mississippi.
Court records say Letten met Estrade in 1999 or 2001 while Letten walked his dog and they talked briefly. Estrade allegedly told the FBI that Letten caused him problems over a threatening letter Estrade wrote in 2005 or 2006.
From The Associated Press.

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