Louisiana news briefs

From The Associated Press.

Computer glitch causes debit card tax refunds
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A programming glitch resulted in 8,000 Louisiana taxpayers receiving prepaid debit cards or checks instead of direct deposit for their income tax refunds.
Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said Monday that his agency discovered the problem last week and repaired it.
He says the revenue department is offering to cancel the prepaid debit cards and issue refund checks. The problem affected 8,000 out of more than 700,000 returns filed.
The pre-paid Visa cards generated complaints two years ago when the revenue department introduced them. People said they didn’t understand how to use the cards or were charged fees when they did.
Now, refunds only are supposed to arrive on debit cards if a taxpayer doesn’t specify wanting the refund by direct deposit or paper check.

House agrees to new specialty license plates
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Lawmakers in the Louisiana House have agreed to proposals that would create new specialty license plates for golfers, hunters, members of the military and others.
Plates approved Monday would be for: Hunters for the Hungry Louisiana, the Louisiana Golf Association, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, Down Syndrome Awareness, the Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network, Louisiana Master Gardeners and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Once at least 1,000 people apply, the plates would cost from $10 to $30 a year, on top of standard charges.
Meanwhile, proposals to create specialized license plates honoring U.S. Army Rangers and members of the military who receive the Distinguished Service Cross don’t call for extra fees.
The bills head to the Senate for consideration.
Louisiana already has 215 specialty plates in production, according to the state police.

Bill would ban e-cigarette sales to minors in La.
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A proposal to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under 18 is getting its first legislative hearing.
Sen. Rick Gallot, a Ruston Democrat, is asking a Senate judiciary committee today to forward the measure to the full Senate for debate.
The bill would add e-cigarettes and other “alternative nicotine products” to the list of items that can’t be sold to minors in Louisiana.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that typically contain nicotine, and sometimes flavorings like fruit, mint or chocolate. Users get their nicotine without the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 27 states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

PAR releases new app
to track La. elected leaders
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A nonpartisan government watchdog group has put out a free mobile phone app to help Louisiana residents keep track of their elected officials.
The guide from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana is available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The app is available by searching for “PAR Guide” at the Apple or Google app stores.
It includes biographical and contact information for state lawmakers, statewide elected officials and Louisiana members of Congress.
The app also includes a guide to constitutional amendments whenever proposals are up for consideration during a statewide election. And it has details of a citizen’s legal rights to open meetings and public records in Louisiana.

Fire dispatcher enters
plea in child porn case
SHREVEPORT (AP) — A Shreveport Fire Department dispatcher has pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing and receiving child pornography.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley says 45-year-old Stephen St. John entered the plea Monday before federal Magistrate Judge Mark L. Hornsby. Finley, of Shreveport, was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
According to an indictment, St. John knowingly received child pornography on a computer on Jan. 29, 2013. Finley’s office says the images depicted minors and prepubescent children engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
If convicted, St. John faces up to 20 years in prison on the possession count and from five to 20 years for receiving the child pornography. He also would face a $250,000 fine for each count and forfeiture of the equipment used to acquire, store and view the images.

Audit: Amite police chief
may have violated state law
BATON ROUGE (AP) — State auditors say Amite Police Chief Jerry Trabona may have violated state law when he paid 25 off-duty policemen $18,000 for 360 court appearances even though the officers did not attend court on those days.
Auditors reviewed the police department’s time sheets after Lee Gray, Amite’s independent auditor, told state officials about discrepancies in the town’s payroll and court records.
State auditors determined Trabona was incorrectly paying off-duty officers for appearances at arraignments even though the officers did not attend court on those days because their appearances would have been unnecessary.
Trabona told auditors that was the case when he first took office in January 2005.
The auditor’s office says the report has been sent to the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Parents booked in baby’s death
NEW ROADS (AP) — Pointe Coupee Parish sheriff’s deputies have booked a Ventress couple with second-degree for allegedly starving their 3-month-old son.
Deputies arrested Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar Monday in the death of their son, Joseph Lutz. They are being held in the parish jail on bonds of $500,000 each.

Graffiti found on Larose playground equipment
LAROSE (AP) — Officials say vandals damaged about $80,000 worth of playground equipment at the Larose Civic Center.
Civic Center Director Jasmine Ayo said graffiti on two slides and a climbing piece was discovered by children playing at the Children’s Tot Lot at the center last week.
Brennan Matherne, spokesman for the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the graffiti, which includes several menacing faces and the word “killuminati,” is currently being investigated by the agency.
Ayo says the park has security cameras in the area, but they didn’t capture anyone in the act.
He says the Civic Center will be responsible for paying for the damages.

Parents booked in baby’s death
NEW ROADS (AP) — Pointe Coupee Parish sheriff’s deputies have booked a Ventress couple with second-degree for allegedly starving their 3-month-old son.
Deputies arrested Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar Monday in the death of their son, Joseph Lutz. They are being held in the parish jail on bonds of $500,000 each.
It was unclear whether Lutz and Cogar have an attorney.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

Franklin Banner-Tribune
P.O. Box 566, Franklin, LA 70538
Phone: 337-828-3706
Fax: 337-828-2874

Morgan City Daily Review
P.O. Box 948, Morgan City, LA 70381
Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255

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