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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Seven defendants accused in a pre-arranged funeral scam have been offered plea deals that would allow them to avoid potential life sentences.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlined the plea offers on Friday. The deal would require five to 10 years in prison in exchange for guilty pleas. The case is being handled in federal court in St. Louis.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan cited the high cost of trials that could last three months.
Prosecutors say now-defunct National Prearranged Services Inc. operated like a Ponzi scheme before it was shut down in 2008. Customers were allegedly bilked of up to $600 million.
One former employee, 69-year-old Sharon Nekol Province, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Sentencing is November 7th.
WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) — A Washington Park, Illinois police officer has been accused of smuggling narcotics to a female jail inmate.
Authorities say the officer is 61-year-old Douglas Young of Lebanon. Young was arrested Thursday morning in his police uniform at the Washington Park Police Department. He has been charged with official misconduct for bringing narcotics and prescription drugs to an inmate of the St. Clair County Jail.
St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson says Young allegedly "used his position as a law enforcement officer" to arrange jail visits to a woman in custody on theft charges.
Young is being held at the St. Clair County Jail. His bond has been set at $25,000. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.
Washington Park is just east of St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — An audit by the Federal Office of Inspector General says Missouri should pay back more than $21 million in federal Medicaid payments made to a state-operated children's hospital in St. Louis County.
The audit found that Hawthorn Children's Psychiatric Hospital failed for five years to fulfill regulatory requirements to qualify for the federal Medicaid reimbursements.
Missouri Department of Social Services spokeswoman Rebecca Woelfel says the department disagrees with the audit and will continue to defend its position. The state also filed a letter disagreeing with the finding.
The Office of Inspector General cannot require the state to pay back the money. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will decide whether to seek repayment of some or all of the money, and Missouri can appeal that decision.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal officials have granted a southeastern New Mexico company's request to open a horse slaughterhouse. Officials also say Friday that they plan to grant similar permits to operations in Iowa and Missouri.
With the action, Valley Meat Co. of Roswell is set to become the first operation in the nation licensed to process horses into meat.
The company has been fighting for approval from the Department of Agriculture for more than a year with a request that ignited debate over whether horses are livestock or companions.
The decision comes months after Valley Meat Co. sued the USDA, accusing it of intentional delays because the Obama Administration opposes horse slaughter.
Valley Meat Co. wants to ship horse meat to countries where people cook with it or feed it to animals.
A sigh of relief from Illinois drivers. IDOT has postponed this weekend's planned closure of the McKinley Bridge.
Crews were set to clean and seal the bridge. IDOT said they delayed the work because of the possibility of rain. The work has been rescheduled for the weekend of July 12, but that is work is dependent on weather.
This is the second time work has been delayed--it was originally scheduled for the weekend of the Komen Race for the Cure.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon has frozen $400 million of spending for education, capital improvements and state services because of concerns that legislators could override his veto of an income tax bill.
Nixon announced the spending restrictions Friday while signing a nearly $25 billion operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year that starts next Monday.
Earlier this month, the Democratic governor vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have phased in a tax deduction for business income over the next five years. That bill also would have gradually reduced the income tax rate for individuals and corporations over the next decade.
Lawmakers would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to override Nixon's veto during a September session.
Nixon says the bill could cost Missouri hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.
An Arnold grandmother is headed to prison for being drunk when she caused an accident that killed her granddaughter.
Theresa Fortner will spend 12 and-a-half years in prison. Fortner was driving her 20-month-old granddaughter on Interstate 55 when she crashed into a street sign, a house, a tree and a fence. The car's black box showed she was traveling nearly 70 miles an hour and never applied the brakes before the accident.
Fortner's blood alcohol content was almost triple the legal limit.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The driver of a van that overturned along an Illinois freeway, killing five passengers, has told investigators he recalls little of the moments leading to the wreck.
The Associated Press obtained an Illinois State Police report on the crash through a Freedom of Information Act request. According to the report, Malcolm Purnell said he's unsure if he fell asleep just before the May 20 crash on Interstate 70 during a coast-to-coast drive.
He said he doesn't remember much beyond that the vehicle's occupants were laughing moments earlier.
Purnell was among six occupants injured in the crash near Vandalia. They were returning east from a California ministry gathering.
Purnell was cited for improper lane usage and driving with a suspended license.
Messages left with his Philadelphia attorney weren't returned.
With the 4th of July in sight, new details are emerging about Fair St. Louis and the VP Parade downtown. The 136th annual VP Parade steps off from a new location and time this year. The parade starts at 9:30 Thursday morning from the newly renovated Central Library. From there, it heads north on Tucker, east down Washington Avenue, south on 4th street, then East on Market, where it wraps up at City Garden. Approximately 30 floats and 12 marching bands will take part in the parade. As for the musical acts, Trace Atkins takes the stage on the 4th, Bret Michaels on the 5th, and the Counting Crows wrap things up on the 6th.
A child was thrown from a car during a serious accident this afternoon.
Police say an officer saw a driver speeding on Broadway towards the River City Casino. The officer tried to pull the suspect over, but the driver increased speed and ran several traffic lights. At the intersection of Broadway and Marceau the suspect slammed into several cars. Two adults suffered minor injuries and a 4-year-old child was ejected from a vehicle. The child is in critical condition.
Crews remain at the scene.