Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Former East Newton R-6 Board president Mark Knight files for Newton County Commission

Mark Knight, who served on the East Newton R-6 Board of Education for 15 years, including nine as board president, filed for District One Newton County Commissioner today on the first day of filing.

Knight outlined his reasons for running and his qualifications in entries on his campaign Facebook page

I am extremely concerned and distressed about the extreme wastefulness that our commissioners have spent on lawsuits past and present. There has been an astronomical amount of money spent on legal fees due to internal conflicts within the county and not honoring an agreement with the City of Neosho. 

We owe it to the people of Newton County to work together as a team with cooperation and communication. We need to rebuild the trust in our local county officials. 

I have had many years of running a business and owning a business. I have had many years of working with large numbers of employees with extremely successful results. 

I want the county to work harmoniously with administration and employees. I am not a politician, I am a manager and a concerned citizen. I can help the county if given the chance. I am asking for your vote.

A lifelong resident of Newton County. I graduated from East Newton High School in 1975. I continued my education at m Missouri Southern, graduating 1979, majoring in Economics and Finance and Marketing Management. 

After graduating college, I went to work for Teledyne Neosho for the next 32 years. working my way up to General Manager. Upon my departure, I purchased and ran a small business for the next 8 years. I retired as much as one can to the family farm in 2019.

Community Service: I have served our community beginning in 2000 on the East Newton School Board for 15 years, the last nine as Board President. I have also had the privilege of serving and still do as a Commissioner on the Midway Special Road District for the last 18 years.

Family Life: My wife, Martha, and I have 3 boys. I serve as Senior Warden Church of Our Savior, Anglican Church in Joplin, MO for the last 18 years.

Candidates file for Seventh District Congress, Missouri House seats on first day

Seventh District Congressman Eric Burlison will face at least three primary challengers in August and at least two of them will be from Jasper County.

After the first day of filing, Burlison, who is in his first term, will be opposed by Camille Lombardi-Olive, Joplin, John Adair, Carthage, and Audrey Richards, Kimberling City.

Only one Democrat, Missi Hesketh, Forsyth, has filed.

Fourth District

In the 4th District, two candidates filed, incumbent Republican Mark Alford, who is in his first term, and Democrat Jeanette Cass, Niangua.

State Representatives

In the 163rd District, where Rep. Cody Smith is term-limited, two Carthage residents, Zach Hatcher and Cathy Jo Loy, both Republicans, filed.

In the 162nd District, incumbent Republican Bob Bromley was the only one who filed.

Three candidates filed in the 161st District, including two Republicans, incumbent Lane Roberts, Joplin, and Thomas Ross, Joplin, and one Democrat, Shawna Ackerson, Joplin.

Rep. Ben Baker, the Neosho Republican incumbent, is the only person who filed in the 160th District.

Incumbent Republican Dirk Deaton is the only one who has filed in the 159th District.

Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, is the only person who has filed in the 127th District.

Joplin man sentenced to 12 years on child pornography charge

A federal court judge sentenced a Joplin man to 12 years in prison on a child pornography charge during a hearing this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Judge Douglas Harpool also sentenced Robert E. Riggs, 46, to 10 years of supervised release following his imprisonment.

In sentencing memorandums filed last week, the government had asked that Riggs serve 15 years in prison, while Riggs' attorney suggested 10 years would be a proper sentence.

Riggs' crimes were detailed in the government's memorandum:

On February 24, 2022, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) referred 21 Cybertipline Reports (CTR) to the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force (SWMCCTF) for further investigation.

The CTRs were generated after 38 images depicting child pornography were discovered in a Dropbox user’s cloud storage folder on January 13, 2022. Dropbox promptly notified NCMEC of the discovery and identified the user as “Robbie Riggs.”

The IP addresses used to access the account were also provided to NCMEC by Dropbox. Task Force Officer (TFO) Brian Martin reviewed the imagery submitted with the CTRs.

Each of the 38 files depicted minors, some as young as five years old, engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including oral and anal sexual intercourse.

On March 1, 2022, SWMCCTF TFO Chip Root obtained a warrant to search the Dropbox account in question from Jasper County, Missouri, Circuit Court Judge Dean Dankelson. Dropbox provided data responsive to the search warrant, which included over 100 images depicting child pornography.
The materials provided by Dropbox also included an image of a billing statement addressed to ROBERT RIGGS at 1405 Katherine Avenue, Joplin, Missouri, a photograph of a prescription bottle with the name ROBERT RIGGS typed upon it along with his address, and several other images linking the Dropbox account to ROBERT RIGGS.

Sarcoxie man sentenced for sexual exploitation of 11-year-old girl

A Sarcoxie man was sentenced to 20 years in prison today in U. S. District Court in Springfield for sexual exploitation of an 11-year-old girl.

The sentencing of Brian Florian-Palma, 43, had originally been scheduled for January 24, but was postponed when Florian-Palma came down with flu-like symptoms.

Florian-Palma, 43, pleaded guilty May 30 to the sex charge. He is already serving a 15-year sentence on federal meth trafficking and weapons charges.

Florian-Palma was reported to authorities by his girlfriend, a Joplin woman, after she discovered suspicious photos on his phone, according to the plea agreement.

Carthage man sentenced to 12 years without parole on child pornography charges

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Carthage, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for receiving and distributing child pornography.

James Beam, 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to 12 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Beam to 20 years of supervised release following incarceration. Beam will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison and will be subject to federal and state sex offender registration requirements, which may apply throughout his life.

On Sept. 20, 2023, Beam pleaded guilty to one count of receiving and distributing child pornography.

An undercover FBI agent made contact with Beam through the Kik application in April 2023. Beam expressed a sexual interest in children and expressed his desire to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with the undercover agent’s niece.

Beam sent the undercover agent a video of child pornography on April 14, 2023. On the same day, Beam informed the undercover agent of his intent to abduct and rape a child. Beam said there were several old houses in the country near him where he could take the child. Because the undercover agent felt a child was in imminent risk of being kidnapped and sexually assaulted, an exigent request was submitted to Kik for Beam’s account information, which investigators used to identify and locate him.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Southwest Cybercrimes Task Force and the FBI.

Parson seeks $2.2M to send Missouri troopers, soldiers to Texas for border duty

By Rudi Keller

Sending Missouri state troopers and National Guard soldiers to Texas’s border with Mexico will cost more than $2.2 million, state officials told the House Budget Committee on Monday.

Gov. Mike Parson is sending 200 soldiers and 11 Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers to work with Texas law enforcement at the request of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

There are about 250 National Guard soldiers already in Texas operating under federal orders, Maj. Gen. Levon Compton told the House Budget Committee. The operational commands will be separate but the goal is the same, he said.

“I have high confidence that the goal to secure the border is one that’s shared,” Compton said.

The hearing Monday was the first formal public hearing on an appropriations bill this year. The $2.2 million covers anticipated expenses through June 30, when the fiscal year ends.

The deployment could continue into the coming fiscal year as well. Funds for those operations would be needed in upcoming budget bills.

The committee took no vote on Monday.

During questioning, Democrats asked whether the funds were truly needed and whether the state would be reimbursed for the expense.

Parson already has $4 million in a fund for state emergencies and there is enough money in the patrol’s budget to cover the expense, Budget Director Dan Haug said. The $2 million for the guard deployment would only be needed if Missouri experiences a disaster at home that required a major deployment, he said.

When National Guard soldiers are deployed on a federal mission, the national treasury picks up the cost. In this deployment, lawmakers heard, it will be up to Missouri taxpayers to foot the bill.

“This should be plenty for anything that comes up but we just want to make sure we are ready for any eventuality,” Haug said.

“It seems like if that is the case we don’t need to be here doing that,” said state Rep. Peter Merideth, a Democrat from St. Louis.

The state deployment is for Operation Lone Star, launched by Abbott in 2021, that has led to tension with President Joe Biden’s administration over jurisdiction along the Rio Grande. Last year, Texas deployed a floating barrier with razor wire at a place called Eagle Pass, which is also where Texas is constructing a permanent base for state troops stationed in Eagle Pass.

National guard troops from Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia have also been sent to Texas.

Parson’s plan is to send 11 patrol troopers to Texas for 32 days and 200 guard soldiers, with rotating tours of 50 during the 90-day mission, which could be extended.

Abbott invoked provisions for mutual aid among states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a federally recognized program adopted by Missouri in 2018.

The patrol is sending the troopers despite being 132 patrol officers short of full strength.

“Does that not put Missouri at risk when we’re sending even more troopers away when we already have a deficit of 132?” asked state Rep. Deb Lavender, a Democrat from Manchester.

Col. Eric Olson, superintendent of the patrol, said only volunteers are going and they have been selected from eight of the patrol’s nine troop areas.

“Geographically, we spread that out,” Olson said, “and we feel like we will be able to manage this event as well as take care of our duties here at home.”

Watch Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live at 6 p.m.


Anderson man charged with statutory sodomy involving 10-year-old girl free on $75,000 bond

(Note: The Joplin Globe is reporting that Rusty Little was mistakenly released after posting a $25,000 cash bond. The bond was set at $75,000- $25,000 cash and $50,000 surety. Another warrant issued for Little's arrest, according to the Globe. This post has been changed to reflect the amount that was posted.)

A 9 a.m. March 13 arraignment is scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for an Anderson man charged with two counts of statutory sodomy with a 10-year-old girl and a felony count of sexual misconduct involving a child.

Rusty Little (DOB 1966), is free after posting a $25,000 cash bond today. The bond was actually set at $75,000- $25,000 cash and $50,000 surety, meaning a warrant had to be issued to bring Little back.

The Jasper County Sheriff's Office's investigation into Little began February 7, according to a news release. He was arrested Monday at his workplace in Joplin.

The sexual misconduct charge was a felony due to a prior conviction, the probable cause statement said.

Monett man charged with kidnapping, assaulting woman

A car ride from a Rangeline McDonald's to Wentworth October 22 was a nightmare for a woman as she was assaulted and threatened with a knife, according to a probable cause statement filed Monday in Newton County Circuit Court.

The Newton County Prosecuting Attorney's office charged Geoffery Shawn Kramer (DOB 1973), Monett, with kidnapping and assault.

The Newton County Sheriff's Office was called when a driver saw a woman walking on MO 37 "waving down traffic and crying," according to the probable cause statement.

She did not have any shoes on. The bystander pulled over and called 911. The victim had informed him she was just assaulted and did not know where the suspect was at that time. The bystander said he stayed with her until I arrived. I then made contact with the victim. 

The victim was in the back of the ambulance. She appeared very frightened, crying, shaking, and having trouble breathing. She was being checked out by medics. She eventually declined further treatment once she was able to calm down. 

During this time, I observed slight redness on her face. I asked her what had occurred. The victim said she had re-connected with the suspect, Geoffrey Shawn Kramer after several years and came to the area to see him along with helping him move some of his property. She told me on today's date prior to the 911 call, Kramer and she were at McDonald's in the drive through getting food and drinks. I asked which McDonald's, and she was not sure where. She knew they were in Joplin and there was a Sam's Club across the street nearby. It was determined to be on South Rangeline Road in Joplin. 

It was also during this time Kramer became irate and violent toward her by acting verbally and physically threatening. When they left, he became more aggressive toward her and violently punched her on different occasions as she drove through Newton County between South Rangeline and where she was able to pull over to escape from harm in Wentworth. 

Some of the criminal acts took place east of Diamond on Highway J. The victim said she tried to pull over several times to escape on foot, but Kramer would grab her by her hair to prevent her from fleeing. 

He also punched her in the face and threw his McDonald's cup (filled with liquid and ice) in her face. Kramer also would grab the gear shifter during the incident and put the car into neutral or park while in motion. 

The victim said as she approached the intersection of Highway J and Highway 37 in Wentworth, Kramer began to reach for a knife. It was at this time he told her, "This has gone too far. There is no turning back now." 

The victim said as she crossed Highway 37 eastbound into the 100 block of East Chestnut where she immediately stopped the vehicle and ran away northbound until she was able to seek help from the bystander. The victim told me she was afraid he was going to kill her with his knife, and she had no choice but to stop and flee.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Carthage woman charged with sixth DWI, third time in past seven months

A Carthage woman, with five previous arrests for driving while intoxicated, was charged with DWI again today in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Contressa A. Perry (DOB 1969) pleaded not guilty during her arraignment and is being held on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.

A Carthage Police Department stopped Perry 11:52 p.m. Sunday at Baker and Macon for an expired registration.

From the probable cause statement:

Perry admitted to having two shots and that she did not have an operator's license due to a prior DWI. Perry was not able to provide proof of insurance. The vehicle was also registered to a family member's friend who passed away. Perry said she has had it for about two years and never registered it in her name.

The statement said Perry's words were slurred and her breath smelled of alcohol.


Also noted in the probable cause statement were Perry's previous DWIs, including being found of guilty of DWI January 2 and being given a suspended sentence of six months. She is currently on probation.

Perry was charged with DWI in 1997, 1998, 2020, July 20, 2023 and October 3, 2023.