A South Dakota rancher has pleaded guilty in federal court to falsely claiming he lost more than a hundred cattle during the autumn blizzard of 2013 that left ranchers in the state reeling with financial losses.
Karl Knutson pleaded guilty Friday as part of a deal with prosecutors, the Rapid City Journal reported. The agreement dismisses a felony count of making a false statement, and prosecutors are recommending Knutson be sentenced to probation and fines.
Knutson's indictment said he submitted a claim in May 2014 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency for the loss of 129 head of cattle in the October blizzard, even though the Vale rancher actually lost at most 13.
Court documents say the disaster payment for that claim would have paid out nearly $117,000.
The indictment also says Knutson told the agency in "a handwritten invoice" in August 2014 that he paid $135,350 for 103 head of cattle that he didn't actually buy.
Knutson didn't immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press requesting comment regarding the plea. The maximum sentence the 27-year-old could face would be five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release.
The 2013 storm is estimated to have killed more than 50,000 livestock, causing financial problems for ranchers in the western part of the state.
An attorney for a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times says his client acted lawfully and urges the public not to rush to judgment based solely on a video of the shooting that's to be released within days.
Attorney Dan Herbert told reporters Friday that Officer Jason Van Dyke is — in his words — "scared to death." Herbert says the officer is concerned about the safety of his wife and two school-age children in the event the video prompts violence.
A judge on Thursday ordered the city to release squad car dashcam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's 2014 shooting.
Herbert says the video doesn't capture the whole confrontation.
Van Dyke has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty.
Attorneys for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged the state's highest criminal court Wednesday to dismiss felony abuse-of-power charges that the Republican blames in part for foiling his short-lived 2016 presidential run.
After two hours of arguments, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals gave no timetable for ruling whether Perry should face trial in the case that has dragged on since August 2014 — about five times longer than his second unsuccessful White House bid.
Perry didn't attend the crowded hearing in a courtroom behind his old Texas Capitol office, but his high-powered lawyers told judges that enough was enough.
"The danger of allowing a prosecutor to do this is mind-boggling," Perry attorney David Botsford said.
Perry is accused of misusing his power in 2013 when he vetoed funding for local prosecutors after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, an elected Democrat, refused calls to resign following a drunken driving arrest. He was indicted a year later by a grand jury in liberal Austin and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Perry has denounced the charges as a partisan attack. But in a lively back-and-forth with an eight-judge panel, all but one of whom is an elected Republican, Perry's legal team didn't raise claims of political retribution and instead framed the veto as a rightful constitutional power.
Special prosecutors say that's for a trial to determine — and not for the court to settle now. Judges met that with a tone of skepticism, with Republican Judge Kevin Yeary pressing at one point whether going through with a trial would be "wasting everyone's time."
Perry was originally indicted on two counts, but a lower court has already thrown out the other charge of coercion of a public servant. Prosecutors are asking the court to not only order a trial on the remaining charge but also reinstate the other one.
A Texas inmate was executed Wednesday for setting a fire that killed his 18-month-old daughter and her two young half-sisters at an East Texas home 15 years ago.
Raphael Holiday, 36, became the 13th convicted killer put to death this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state. It has accounted for half of all executions in the U.S. so far this year.
The lethal injection was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal seeking to halt Holiday's punishment so new attorneys could be appointed to pursue additional unspecified appeals in his case.
Earlier Wednesday, the judge in Holiday's trial court stopped the execution after Holiday's trial attorney filed an appeal saying the conviction and some trial testimony were both improper. The judge agreed the issues should be reviewed and withdrew his execution warrant. The Texas attorney general's office appealed, the judge's order voided and the warrant reinstated, clearing the way for the lethal injection to move forward.
At the Supreme Court, Austin-based lawyer Gretchen Sween argued that Holiday's court-appointed attorneys abandoned him after the justices in June refused to review his case. Those lawyers advised Holiday his legal issues were exhausted and new appeals and a clemency petition would be fruitless.