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October 11, 2018 - 12:00 am

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-LOUISIANA

APNewsBreak: Louisiana pays $149K to settle harassment suit

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is paying $149,075 to end a sexual misconduct lawsuit against former Secretary of State Tom Schedler that was filed by one of his former employees.

Schedler will personally pay $18,425 on top of the taxpayer-financed amount.

Details of the settlement were provided Thursday to The Associated Press by the Division of Administration. The payments will resolve legal claims that Schedler sexually harassed a woman who worked for him.

A state district judge has signed paperwork ending the lawsuit.

Schedler, a Republican in office since 2010, resigned as Louisiana's chief elections official in May amid intensifying scrutiny about the harassment allegations.

Of the taxpayer-financed amount, the Division of Administration says $58,625 will be paid by the Office of Risk Management, Louisiana's self-insurer, and $90,450 by the secretary of state's office.

OLD RAPE CASE

Official exoneration for man freed last year in 1973 rape

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A legal ordeal that has dragged on for close to half a century is finally over for a man wrongfully convicted in a 1971 rape.

The advocacy group Innocence Project New Orleans said Thursday that prosecutors in Baton Rouge officially dismissed charges against Wilbert Jones in the kidnapping and rape of a nurse at Baton Rouge General Hospital.

Jones was released from the state prison at Angola last November after spending nearly 46 years behind bars. A state judge said that the case against Jones was weak and that evidence favoring his case had been withheld. Louisiana's Supreme Court refused Monday to revive the case.

The Innocence Project said the victim had told police she was not 100 percent certain when she picked Jones from a lineup months after the crime.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR-ISRAEL

Edwards leading Louisiana delegation to Israel this month

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards will travel to Israel later this month on an economic development trip that includes a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Democratic governor announced the plans Thursday, saying the 24-person delegation will include business leaders and researchers in fields such as water management, logistics, higher education and cybersecurity.

The delegation leaves Louisiana on Oct. 26 and returns Nov. 2. The governor will meet with Netanyahu and other government leaders in Jerusalem on Oct. 28.

Edwards called the trip a great opportunity to meet one of the nation's key allies and speak with other officials and business leaders about possible trade prospects. He says Louisiana can connect with Israel on oil and gas exploration and cybersecurity.

SCHOOL OFFICIAL-SHOPLIFTING

School Board member accused of shoplifting at Walmart

(Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com)

COVINGTON, La. (AP) — A school board member has been accused of shoplifting at a Walmart in Louisiana.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Scott Lee tells NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune that 53-year-old Sharon Lo Drucker was issued a summons to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge of theft under $1,000. The St. Tammany Parish school board member pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Wednesday.

Lee says Deputy Walter Eason was notified that workers had a shoplifter detained in the loss prevention office. He says Drucker was issued a summons in lieu of arrest.

School Board President Robin Mullett said in a statement that the school board has no authority to take any action on this matter because Drucker hasn't been convicted of a crime and is an elected official.

It's unclear if Drucker has a lawyer who could comment.

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BC-TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST

The Latest: Georgia crops hit hard by Hurricane Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Georgia's Department of Agriculture is coordinating efforts to assist recovery in Southwest and Central Georgia, areas most affected by Hurricane Michael.

Commissioner Gary W. Black, in a news release Thursday, said crops, animals and infrastructure have all taken a substantial loss because of the storm.

Black says poultry contributes $23.3 billion to Georgia's economy and has reported the most widespread power outages and losses. He says 84 chicken houses, estimated to have held more than 2 million chickens, were destroyed. The farms, dairies and processing plants affected were in Appling, Colquitt, Coffee, Decatur, Evans, Houston, Mitchell, Randolph, Lee and Wilcox counties.

Damaging winds also drove much of the cotton crop to the ground for a total loss or tangled it, making it harder to extract clean lint during the ginning process. Assessments for peanuts and pecans are ongoing.

BURNED BODIES-ARRESTS

New Orleans police arrest 2 in death of couple found burned

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police have arrested two people in connection with the deaths of a man and woman whose burned bodies were found over the summer.

Several news outlets reported Wednesday that 34-year-old Michael Tyron Robinson and 23-year-old Kirk Powell were charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Gavonte Lampkin and Shantrell Parker. Police say the couple's charred bodies were found in the woods in July. Both had been shot.

Court records show four men are accused of shooting Lampkin multiple times in 2016. NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports Lampkin was shot again in 2016 in an attempt to keep him from testifying against the group.

Jail records show Robinson and Powell were booked last week on drug charges. It's unclear if they have lawyers who could comment.

HOUSE COLLAPSE-11 INJURED

House collapses during renovation; all 11 workers hurt

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans officials say 11 construction workers were injured when a one-story house collapsed during renovations.

New Orleans Emergency Medical Services spokesman Lt. Jonathan Fourcade says every worker on the site was injured, but all were able to walk.

He does not know details about their injuries, but says four were taken to a hospital trauma center.

The accident occurred about 10:40 a.m. Thursday in New Orleans' 7th Ward.

A photograph showed only the front wall, three columns and the roof over the brick front porch still standing. The left side wall appeared to have fallen sideways, and part of the roof was leaning at a sharp angle against the facade.

VOTING MACHINES

Louisiana's lucrative voting machine contract award canceled

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is voiding a multimillion-dollar contract award to replace state voting machines, after a key official in Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration found flaws in the vendor selection.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin's office will have to redo the bid process, if the decision by Louisiana's chief procurement officer Paula Tregre stands.

The decision to scrap the contract award to Dominion Voting Systems comes at an unfortunate time for Ardoin. The Republican is running on the November ballot to remain secretary of state.

Ardoin accused Edwards, a Democrat, of siding with a losing bidder who protested the contract award because the company's lobbyist is an Edwards supporter.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who oversees the Office of State Procurement, called Ardoin's claims "absurd."

Dominion says it will appeal the decision.

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