Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bond set at $1 million for man accused of murdering soldier/former Joplin High School student

A $1 million bond has been set for Joe Cabral, 20, an infantrymen with the Second Brigade Combat team, who is charged with murder in connection with the February 23 shooting of Pfc. Zachary S. McGuire, 21, whose address was listed as Webb City in news accounts.

The two men were stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and were roommates, according to KFOX.

An argument led to the shooting, the police said.

McGuire attended Joplin and Webb City high schools

Four Joplin residents, Neosho woman indicted on federal meth trafficking, conspiracy charges

A federal grand jury indicted four Joplin residents and a Neosho woman on federal meth conspiracy and trafficking charges.

According to the indictment, those indicted were:

Melissa R. Krivett, 40, Joplin, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, six counts of selling a controlled substance

Kevin Krivett, 36, Joplin, one count conspiracy, three counts selling, two counts possession

Vanessa Anderson, 37, Neosho, one count conspiracy, one count unlawful transport of firearms, two counts possession

Stephen G. Maggard, 24, Joplin, one count conspiracy, one count possession

Kenneth Ingle, 57, Joplin,  one count conspiracy, one count possession

The indictment indicates the crimes took place between March 8, 2016 and October 3, 2017 in Jasper County.

Feds say Joplin man facing child porn charges should be held without bond

Federal prosecutors want a Joplin man charged with receiving and distributing child pornography to remain behind bars while awaiting trial.

A detention hearing for Richard Ray Thuerauf, 49, will be held 1 p.m. Thursday in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

In a motion for detention, prosecutors asked that Thuerauf be held without bond, not only for his alleged crimes, but also as a result of a Missouri Department of Health and Human Services investigation into how Thuerauf was treating his wife.

According to the motion, the DHHS, following an investigation, confirmed Thuerauf was mistreating his disabled wife by not bathing her from June 18 through July 17, 2017, not feeding her adequately and mishandling the money she received for her disability.

The motion also noted that Thuerauf had more than 1,000 child pornography images on his cell phone and 282 more on his iCloud account.

Topeka man sentenced to 12 years in prison for dealing large amounts of meth in Joplin

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

Topeka, Kan., man was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for distributing large amounts of methamphetamine in the Joplin area.

Jacob A. Beckham, 33, of Topeka, Kan., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 12 years in federal prison without parole.

On July 26, 2017, Beckham pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

According to court documents, a detective with the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department saw Beckham, driving a black Ford Fusion, swerve over the yellow line several times on I-49 near Highway V on May 5, 2015. A deputy followed the vehicle to the parking lot of Shoal Creek Plaza and activated his vehicle’s emergency lights and siren. Beckham’s vehicle sped off and the deputy pursued him in a high-speed chase. During the chase, the deputy saw Beckham throw several items out of the vehicle, including a black and silver case.

When the vehicle came to a stop at a dead end near 6580 Hereford Road, Beckham attempted to flee on foot. The deputy caught Beckham after a short pursuit. When Beckham and the passengers in his vehicle were secured, law enforcement officers recovered the contents that were thrown from the vehicle during the pursuit. Those items included the black and silver case, nine clear baggies that contained a total of 167 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 22 bags with methamphetamine residue, two marijuana joints, seven cell phones and drug paraphernalia. Three passengers in the vehicle confirmed that Beckham threw the case that contained methamphetamine out of the car as he was being pursued by law enforcement.

Beckham admitted that prior to his encounter with law enforcement on May 5, 2015, he had been selling approximately two pounds or more of methamphetamine per month within the past year. Beckham is conservatively responsible for distributing approximately 24 pounds of methamphetamine.

Beckham has five previous convictions for possession of methamphetamine.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Newton County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Trial date set for Joplin man accused of abusing, murdering three-year-old Jonathan Munoz-Bilbrey

A June 3, 2019 trial date has been scheduled for Leonard Valdez, 21, Joplin, who is charged with second degree murder and felony child abuse in connection with the November 12 death of three-year-old Jonathan Munoz-Bilbrey.

Valdez pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court. A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for June 11.

Jonathan Munoz-Bilbrey was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City after he suffered brain injuries, facial bruising and a laceration at his home at 1502 S. Michigan Avenue November 10.

The probable cause statement indicates Valdez was the only person supervising the boy at the time the injuries occurred.

The boy died 22 days after the Joplin Police Department arrested Valdez for domestic assault at the same address, 1502 S. Michigan Avenue, where police say the child abuse took place. The victim was the boy's mother, Natasha Michelle Bilbrey, 22, according to the JPD incident report.

The man who brought us Wallace Bajjali wants to take his leadership to Jefferson City

Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian is thinking about a run for the State Senate seat currently held by the term-limited Ron Richard.

O'Brian told the Joplin Globe he was forming an exploratory committee, making it sound as if he is mulling a run for president rather than the state legislature.

If he does enter the race, he will join Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin and Green Party candidate Conon Gillis of Joplin.

And O'Brian will have an immediate advantage since neither White nor Gillis can claim to have brought a major master developer firm like Wallace Bajjali to Joplin.

Imagine what he could bring to Jefferson City.

O'Brian's role in the City of Joplin's recovery from the May 22, 2011 tornado was featured in my 2015 book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado.

The state audit of the City of Joplin came out a few weeks after the book was published and backed everything that had been written in it, offering plenty of detail as to O'Brian's involvement in the hiring of Wallace Bajjali, including his deletion of a key e-mail that would have shown that Wallace Bajjali provided a template for the hiring of a master developer that only Wallace Bajjali could meet.
The following passages are taken verbatim from the state audit:

Wallace Bajjali may have benefited from favorable treatment during the RFP and qualifications preparation and evaluation process because the RFP preparer and two evaluators had been meeting with David Wallace or employees of Wallace Bajjali before the RFP was drafted and proposals solicited.

In addition, the city did not take sufficient actions to eliminate potential conflicts of interest before awarding the master developer contract. The Joplin Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian (a member of the ITF) drafted the RFP and qualifications for the master developer during December 2011.

Chamber invoices indicate Chamber of Commerce President O'Brian and another chamber employee, Gary Box, traveled to Houston, Texas, on October 1, 2011, to meet with representatives of Wallace Bajjali. They also met with David Wallace in Joplin on October 13, 2011.

Box later evaluated the potential master developer proposals and was subsequently hired by Wallace Bajjali in August 2012. Additionally, an employee of Wallace Bajjali submitted a parking invoice from Dallas, Texas, dated December 5, 2011, which indicated he was meeting with city of Joplin representatives.

Chamber credit card invoices indicated Chamber of Commerce President O'Brian was also in Dallas, Texas, on December 5, 2011. Additionally, in sworn testimony Chamber of Commerce President O'Brian indicated he first met with Wallace in August 2011, and met with him several other times during the fall of 2011. 

Also in sworn testimony CART Chairperson Jane Cage indicated she had met Wallace a few months after the tornado and at other times during the fall of 2011. Chairperson Cage was also a member of the CART ITF and an evaluator. Chairperson Cage developed the evaluation scorecard, evaluated the master developer respondents and completed a scorecard, and compiled the totals of the scorecards.

It is questionable why the Chamber President, CART Chairperson, and another chamber employee had multiple meetings with a potential master developer company or its partners prior to drafting and evaluating the RFPs.

In sworn testimony Chamber of Commerce President O'Brian indicated Wallace suggested the "master developer concept" for redevelopment of the city, and a Wallace Bajjali employee emailed him a template of a RFP at Wallace's request. However, Chamber of Commerce President O'Brian indicated he deleted the email.

These prior relationships with Wallace Bajjali may have impaired the RFP preparer and the evaluators' ability to act impartially when preparing and evaluating the RFPs. Some of the RFP requirements and terminology may have been favorably written for Wallace Bajjali. The RFP included terminology regarding pursuit costs as a form of compensation, which was not used in proposals submitted by the 5 other RFP respondents. The ability to estimate these types of costs was also questioned by one of the respondents. In addition, some of the RFP requirements likely would have required the respondents more than a month to prepare and were questioned by other respondents.

The audit noted that three of the seven members of the committee that evaluated the master developer proposals gave Wallace Bajjali much higher scores than the others. One of those was Chamber of Commerce employee Gary Box, who was later hired by Wallace Bajjali.

O'Brian's role was also spelled out in 2012 CART minutes obtained by the Turner Report.

The CART records showed O'Brian pushed the hiring of Wallace Bajjali, noting the company's record in helping the Waco, Texas community recover from a tornado, even though the Waco tornado was in 1953 and Wallace Bajjali's projects in that community did not begin until more than a half century later (and were never completed).

The state audit also questioned the City of Joplin's providing large financial subsidies to the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce when there was no indication the city was receiving anywhere near that much in return for its investment.

For more information about Rob O'Brian, Mark Rohr, C. J. Huff, Mike Woolston  and other prominent Joplin residents and how they responded during and after the May 22, 2011 Joplin Tornado, check out my book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud; Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, available in paperback and e-book formats at the Amazon links below or at Always Buying Books, Changing Hands Book Shoppe and The Book Guy in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Roy Blunt: Tax reform is benefiting Missourians and we're just getting started

(From Sen. Roy Blunt)

It seems as if every time you turn on the news, another U.S. company is announcing employee bonuses, pay raises, or increased benefits because of tax reform. I’ve been pleased to see several of these companies are either based in Missouri or employ Missourians. For example, Walmart, our state’s biggest employer, is raising its starting wage to $11 and expanding family leave benefits. And recently, Tyson Foods, which employs 5,800 Missourians in five plants across our state, announced they’ll hand out bonuses and expand training and educational development programs for their workers thanks to the new tax code.

There’s more good news. Starting this month, thousands of Missourians are receiving bigger paychecks under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. According to the Boone County auditor, the county’s 485 employees will take home, on average, $75 more in each paycheck, or $150 a month. That adds up to $1,800 a year. All told, Boone County expects to send around $950,000 less to Washington this year – keeping that money in the community and boosting local businesses.

Here are a few more examples of how tax reform is already having a positive impact on Missourians:

• “My pay that I receive in February just came through and I am very pleased that I will receive approximately a 5% increase due to the new withholding as a result of the recently passed Tax Bill. I do not consider increase as ‘crumbs.’” – Daniel, Climax Springs, Mo.

• “Thank you for supporting the new tax plan. It is almost a $700 raise in my wife’s yearly income!” – Murray, Slater, Mo.

• “[Tax reform] will provide us with an opportunity to do further capital investment in the company, give consideration to raises for the employees, and just in general better serve our clients.” – Jeff, CPros Inc., Blue Springs, Mo.

• “This extra little bit of money in our pockets each week gives us something to give back to our community, church and fellow citizens who are less fortunate!” – Nina, Lake Saint Louis, Mo.

• “[The tax reform bonus] was a nice surprise. I’ve got a teenage daughter. Any time there’s extra money, it always comes in handy.” – Frank, Dynamic Fastener, Raytown, Mo.

And we’re just getting started.

By doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit, and reducing individual tax rates, Missourians will be able to keep more of their hard-earned paycheck and businesses will be able to create more jobs and opportunities for employees to move up the economic ladder.

I’m sure we’ll continue to hear more stories like the ones above from Missourians who are seeing the benefits of tax reform in their daily lives, and I’d like to hear from you. If you and your family have benefitted from the new tax code, I hope you’ll take a minute to share your story with me here.

Only in Missouri: Male stripper convicted of filming sex partners seeks pardon from Greitens

This could only happen in Missouri.

The Kansas City Star reports that a former male stripper, Paul Henreid, convicted two decades ago of invasion of privacy for secretly filming his sex partners is seeking a pardon from Gov. Eric Greitens.

Greitens, of course, was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury last week for felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a photo of a nude, bound woman and threatening to use it for blackmail purposes if she ever said anything about their relationship.

The man's lawyer, Albert Watkins, said it would be hypocritical for the governor not to grant the pardon. Watkins is also the lawyer for the ex-husband of the woman with whom Greitens has admitted to having the affair. Greitens has denied the blackmail allegations.

The Star article said Henreid received 30 days of shock time for his offense.

Portrait of George Washington Carver to be displayed at governor's mansion

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Today, Governor Eric Greitens announced that for the first time in Missouri history a portrait of an African-American will be displayed at the Governor’s Mansion. The portrait, depicting George Washington Carver, was painted by a Missouri artist, Joanna Reid.

“We hang this portrait today because George Washington Carver is one of us. He is a Missourian who came from very little, went very far, and left our country better for his time on Earth.

He began life as a slave—and he ended it a hero, someone praised throughout the world, someone honored by Presidents and Kings for his work feeding people and fixing farms. It is an honor to recognize his tremendous example,” said Governor Greitens.

“By creating a color image of George Washington Carver, I hoped to make his story and persona more real for this generation,” said Joanna Reid, the artist. “I want people to be enamored with the gentle intelligence in his expression. I hope they will find it memorable and want to know more about this multi-talented, genuine, brilliant scientist and personality. People should know about him, learn from him, and be inspired by him!

If I could say one thing to GWC about his legacy, I would say, ‘Thank you for your tireless, inspiring efforts to make a difference for struggling farmers, and thank you for taking the time to put many important ideas into memorable words.’ My favorite GWC quote is ‘How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life you will have been all of these.”

The portrait is to be presented at a Black History Month reception hosted by the Governor and First Lady. It will hang in the dining room of the Governor’s Mansion. The portrait will be available for the public to view tomorrow during normal touring hours. Tours of the Governor’s Mansion are available from 10:00 AM to 1:45 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. For groups larger than 10, a reservation should be made.