Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Parson mobilizes National Guard to support Hurricane Ida relief effort

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson announced that he has mobilized the Missouri National Guard to assist in post-Hurricane Ida recovery efforts in Louisiana. In support of the relief effort, the Missouri National Guard will alert, mobilize, and deploy approximately 300 Soldiers to assist.

"As our fellow states never fail to come to our aid in times of need, we are proud to answer this call to provide relief to our friends in Louisiana," Governor Parson said. 

"Americans helping Americans and neighbor helping neighbor is what keeps our nation strong. Our professionals in the Missouri National Guard are the best of the best and have the resources, skills, and training necessary to help Louisiana recover and come back stronger than ever. Teresa and I are praying for the state of Louisiana and all her people as they begin to recover from Hurricane Ida's devastation and destruction."

The State Emergency Management Agency received a request for assistance from the state of Louisiana through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a mutual aid agreement among states that allows for the sharing of critical resources when needed.

The Missouri National Guard is prepared to provide humanitarian support, equipment, debris removal, and general support assistance. Soldiers from the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade headquartered in Kansas City and the 35th Engineer Brigade headquartered in Fort Leonard Wood are mobilized to assist in the relief efforts.

“The Missouri National Guard is well-trained and equipped to assist in recovery operations and has done similar missions in the past with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Maj. Gen. Levon Cumpton, Missouri National Guard Adjutant General. “We are proud to assist our teammates in Louisiana in their time of need.”

The Missouri National Guard is scheduled to assist for up to 14 days and will continue to provide support to civil authorities as long as directed.

Jasper County reports six COVID-19 deaths, 73 new cases

The Jasper County Health Department reported six COVID-19 deaths today, bringing the total to 196.

The victims were two women in their 60s, three men in their 60s and a man in his 70s.

The Health Department confirmed 73 new COVID-19 cases Monday with the following breakdown:

COVID Update 8-30-2021

<1 year 1
1-4 yrs 0
5-11 yrs 6
12-19yrs 10

20-29yrs 13
30-39yrs 12
40-49yrs 8
50-59yrs 10
60-69yrs 6
70-79yrs 3
80-89yrs 3
90+yrs 1
Vaccinated = 4
Reinfection = 0

Forty-one COVID-19 cases confirmed in Joplin Monday

The Joplin Health Department confirmed 41 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total to 8,197.

Ten city residents are hospitalized while Joplin hospitals have 66 COVID patients, according to statistics posted on the city website Monday night.

Joplin has reported 162 deaths due to COVID-19.


Monday, August 30, 2021

$30,000 reward offered for information leading to Karol Sullen's remains

(From the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)

Tuesday, August 31, 2021, marks 30 years since Karol Marlene Sullens was last seen alive when she disappeared from a Galena, Kansas nightclub.

"Over the past three decades, numerous tips and information have been received and followed up on, leading investigators and other organizations to search multiple areas, fields and mine shafts in Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma. Unfortunately, none of those searches have allowed us to recover Karol's body," according to Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves.

In exchange for his testimony, in the fall of 2001 Don Davis told the court he drove Karol and Donald Kidwell from the nightclub to a remote area. According to Davis, Kidwell later returned to the truck without Sullens.

Davis has since passed away and Kidwell pled guilty in the spring of 2002 to battery and interference with law enforcement in connection to his role in Sullens' disappearance. The plea agreement stipulated Kidwell would give a 'truthful statement of the events causing the death of Karol Sullens and as to where the remains of Karol Sullens may be located.'

"The family of Karol Sullens has suffered far too long with grief and agony over not being able to properly lay their loved one to rest. Because we believe there may still be someone with information as to where Karol's body is located, a $30,000.00 reward is being offered for direct information leading to the discovery of her remains," concluded Sheriff Groves.

The funding for the reward is being made available by a private source.

If someone has specific information related to Karol's whereabouts, they can contact the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office at 620-429-3992, 620-848-3000, by visiting the agency website at www.cherokeecountykssheriff.com or by texting 888777. Just type 'tip cherokee' followed by the specific information they wish to provide.

Search for Crowder College president launched

(From Crowder College)

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that we have begun the search to identify the next president of Crowder College. 

The Board is committed to conducting an equitable, inclusive, and transparent national search that will attract a strong and diverse pool of candidates from throughout Missouri and the nation. The search will emphasize the mission of Crowder College to “…build a civil, serving, literate, learning community of responsible citizens.” 

The Board has selected the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) to assist us with the presidential search process. ACCT’s assistance will include providing support with the development of the Presidential Profile, recruiting highly competitive candidates, and working extensively with the Board. ACCT has conducted over 750 community college searches and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our process. ACCT’s mission is to strengthen community college governance through education and advocacy. 

Dr. Williams “Bill” Holda will serve as our ACCT Search Consultant, and will assist the Board and College community throughout this important process.

An important step in the presidential search process is the development of a Presidential Profile. On September 1, 2021 we will host a total of three Public Forums. The purpose of these sessions is to listen to your input, which will assist with the development of the Presidential Profile. 

The entire Crowder College community is invited and encouraged to participate in a wide-ranging discussion about the qualities, characteristics, and qualifications we are seeking in our next president, and the opportunities and challenges facing Crowder College in the years to come. 

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the presidential search process. The discussions will be facilitated by Bill Holda, Ed.D., ACCT Search Consultant. We want to invite and encourage everyone to attend one of the important 1-hour  open forums.

Open Forums

Wednesday, September 1, 2021: 
9:00 a.m. 
11:00 a.m. 
4:00 p.m. 
Wright Conference Center, Rooms ABC Please share with those who may have a concerted interest in Crowder College and wish to attend. No RSVP is needed. 

In addition to the public forums, we have developed a short electronic survey that we hope you will complete. Your anonymous responses to the survey will also be used to inform the development of the draft Presidential Profile. The survey is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/crowder-college-presidential-search 

Please submit your survey feedback by 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 2, 2021. 

The Presidential Search Committee 

The Presidential Search Committee will review the confidential applications, interview semifinalist candidates, and identify the final candidates to be submitted to the full Board of Trustees for consideration. 

The Search Committee is comprised of the following members: 

Andy Wood, President, Board of Trustees and Chair, Presidential Search Committee 
Vickie Barnes, Treasurer, Board of Trustees Crowder College 
Larry Vancuren, Member, Board of Trustees Crowder College 
Ryan Combs, Biology Instructor at Crowder College 
Chett Daniel, Director of Institutional Research and Innovations 
Laurie Delano, Retired CFO of Liberty Utilities 

Jamie Emery, Director of Maddox Hill Behavior Support Center at Crowder College 
Kent Farnsworth, Former President of Crowder College 
Karen Fink, Agriculture Division Administrative Assistant at Crowder College and Classified Staff Presidential Search Chair 
Jennifer Gilliam, Academic Affairs Administrative Assistant at Crowder College 
Cassie Hale, Director of Human Resources at Crowder College 
Lori Kelley, Assistant Director of Campus Life at Crowder College and Professional Staff Presidential Search Chair 
Deborah Muse, Communications Instructor at Crowder College and Faculty Association Presidential Search Chair 
Lisa O’Hanahan, HEP, CAMP Director at Crowder College 
Nicolas Oliveras, Security Analyst for Ralston – Purina and graduate of Crowder College 
Amy Rand, NHS Business Teacher and former Vice President of Finance/CFO of Crowder College Katie Strohl, Learning Opportunity Instructor/Coordinator at Crowder College 
Lynne Tatum, Longtime Community College Instructor, Vice President for Student Services, curator fundraiser, president and board chair of McDonald County Historical Society 

Final Candidates 

The Board will interview the final candidates and all final candidates will participate in open forums at Crowder College. We anticipate the open forums taking place in late November or early December 2021, and we will provide the dates, times, and location once they are confirmed. 

Everyone throughout the College and community will be invited to attend the open forums. Feedback forms will be provided to all attendees, and the completed forms will be collected at the end of each forum and given to the Board for review as part of their deliberation process. 


Our recruitment efforts will involve an open and thorough national search, seeking qualified candidates from all regions of the country. ACCT specializes in one-to-one recruitment of community college leaders. 

Additionally, to assist with this process, advertisements will be placed in the Chronicle of Higher Education and other major publications and websites. 

Presidential Search Webpage 

The Crowder College website will include information on all aspects of the search, both for the College community and candidates. The presidential search webpage will be developed in the coming weeks and will include key information including the timeline, regular progress reports, information on how to apply, etc. We will continue to keep you updated on this important process. 

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to our ACCT Search Consultants: • • Bill Holda, Ed.D., ACCT Search Consultant, wmholda@gmail.com, or (903) 987-3332 (mobile) Julie Golder, J.D., Vice President of Search Services, ACCT, jgolder@acct.org, or (202) 775- 4466 (office

Ann Wagner: Wentzville native was one of brave Marines killed in terrorist attack

(From Second District Congresswoman Ann Wagner)

Giving one’s life in service to your country will never ease the pain felt by parents who just lost their son defending freedom in a faraway land. 

Sadly, Wentzville native Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was one of the brave Marines who was killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul while working to ensure the safety of those trying to leave Afghanistan. He was just 20 years old and I am so incredibly proud of his dedication, his resolve, and his patriotism. 

 When I spoke to his father, I told him that Jared’s legacy will endure here in Missouri and across the United States.

On just his first deployment, Jared stepped up to serve, putting his life on the line to save others and help get American families and Afghan allies out of harm’s way. 

 Tragically, Jared paid the ultimate sacrifice. May Jared rest in peace, and may the prayers of all Missourians comfort the Schmitz family, their community and their friends in this time of sorrow. Please join me in praying for Jared and his family.

Joplin Health Department reports four COVID-19 deaths

(From the Joplin Health Department)

The Joplin Health Department is sad to report the death of four Joplin residents with coronavirus being a significant condition contributing to the deaths. This announcement brings the total count to 164 deaths in Joplin. The residents who passed included one male, age 57; and three females, ages 34 , 61, and 63.

City statistics are listed on the COVID-19 dashboard at www.joplinmo.org/coronavirus . The dashboard is a collaborative project of the Joplin Health Department and University of Missouri Extension Office’s “All Things Missouri”. Please note additional area and state statistics are listed on the Missouri Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard . As Joplin Health Department continues to work with residents in our community, they remind everyone of the importance in taking self-care actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


If you are fully vaccinated, it is recommended you wear a face mask in public indoor settings due to the current transmission rate in this area. Additionally, wearing a mask or physically distancing may also be required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you are encouraged to talk to your health care provider and find a vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Information about the Covid vaccine and locations can be found on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website. Information about the City’s Health Department’s vaccination clinics is also available from the Health Department at 417-623-6122.

If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions, including social distancing and wearing a face mask in public.

The public is reminded to still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should contact your health care provider for medical advice before presenting at their office. Testing information, as well as other COVID-related announcements can be found at www.joplinmo.org/coronavirus. More details about coronavirus is also listed at https://www.cdc.gov/ .

The reporting of Covid-19 related deaths from the City may be delayed due to the time it takes to acquire confirmation that the death meets the vital record case definition and lists Covid-19 as a contributing factor.

Joplin man pleads guilty to federal meth, weapons charges

During a hearing this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield, a Joplin man pleaded guilty to dealing meth and illegally possessing a weapon.

Under a plea bargain agreement with Timothy James Michiels, 39, the government will not seek more than 10 years on the meth charge and five years on the weapons charge, with the sentences to run consecutively.

 No date has been set for the sentencing.

Michiels' crimes were detailed in the probable cause affidavit:

On February 18, 2021, at approximately 1:49 p.m., the Newton County, Missouri, Sheriffs Office ("NCSO") tactical team executed the search warrant at MICHIELS's residence at the direction of DEA investigators.

MICHIELS was detained as he exited the master bedroom. MICHIELS's paramour, N.G., and two children who lived at MICHIELS's residence were located shoveling snow at a neighbor's driveway across the street. 

During a search of the master bedroom, investigators located and seized a user amount of suspected methamphetamine from the north nightstand, along with a 9mm SCCY brand pistol, S#433 l 83, which was loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition. Numerous glass pipes consistent with items used to smoke methamphetamine were also located in the master bedroom. A 9mm Taurus brand pistol, S#ABB29541, which was not loaded, was located above the kitchen cabinets. 

There was a Nissan Versa parked in the driveway of the house with a Missouri Temporary license plate that was registered to N.G. In the back seat, investigators located a taped bundle of suspected methamphetamine that weighed approximately 2,411.0 gross grams, with packaging. Both quantities of suspected methamphetamine were field tested and the test gave a positive indication for the presence of methamphetamine in both. 

An uncounted amount of U.S. currency was seized from the garage. During a post-Miranda interview, prior to the search, MICHIELS told me that there were no firearms or large amounts of U.S. currency or drugs in residence. MICHIELS said he had a small amount of "white," which, based on my training and experience, I believed to be a reference to methamphetamine, on the nightstand. 

After finding the SCCY pistol on the nightstand, I asked MICHIELS about the firearm and he said it belonged to him. During a post Miranda interview, N.G. told me that she knew MICHIELS to be a drug addict but said she was unaware of any large quantities of drugs in the residence. 

N.G. said she had a "purple" pistol in the residence, which she later identified as the Taurus brand pistol found above the kitchen cabinets. N.G. looked at the gun seized from the master bedroom and she said it did not belong to her. N.G. said the large quantity of methamphetamine seized from the Nissan in the driveway did not belong to her. 

N.G. said she and MICHIELS both drove the car. She said she had last driven the car to work at 6 a.m., on February 18, 2021, but was told she was not needed that day and returned home at approximately 7 a.m. and had not driven the car since. N.G. said MICHIELS had driven the car the previous night. 

Based upon my training and experience, I believe the amount of methamphetamine located in the Nissan to be a distributive amount and inconsistent with possession solely for personal use.

Based on the facts set forth in this affidavit and my training and experience, I believe that on or about February 18, 2021, in the Western District of Missouri, and elsewhere, MICHIELS knowingly and intentionally possessed, with intent to distribute, a mixture or substance containing 500 grams or more of a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of21 U.S.C. § 84l(a)(l) and (b)(l)(A).

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Remembering John Ford

In four days, the Neosho Daily News will return to local ownership and while I never had the opportunity to talk to John Ford about it, I know it must have been pleased him greatly to see the newspaper he served for 20 years rescued from the vultures who owned it.

Sadly, that milestone for the Neosho community will arrive and John won't be here to celebrate it. Lee Ann Murphy, a former NDN reporter and editor, noted John's passing a few minutes ago on her Facebook page.

The last few years have not been easy ones for John who has suffered from various health problems with COVID-19 dealing the final knockout blow, but when John was at his best, which he was during his years at the Daily, he provided the Neosho community with a solid newspaper, despite the lack of support from GateHouse Media's corporate leaders who kept providing him (and the readers) with less and less while he kept striving to give them more and more.

John, in addition to creating a fresh, attractive layout for the Daily everyday graced the newspaper with an elegant writing style that he used in his weekly columns and the many features he wrote over the years. 

John, who graduated from Parkwood High School and was one of many local journalists to come through Missouri Southern's Chart, had a genuine love and understanding of small town journalism, something former Daily News Publisher Rick Rogers, also a Chart alumnus, noted when he promoted John to managing editor in 2007:

I have the utmost confidence that John can continue the excellent editorial product that we have been able to produce the past three years. John is one of the finest reporters in this region and that, coupled with his ability to produce a well-designed newspaper, will allow him to excel in his new role.

"John has also been a part of the Neosho community for the past 12 years, and understands what you, our readers, want in their hometown newspaper - hometown news."

He certainly did and John always met the challenge when the big stories came to Newton and McDonald counties, with one example being his coverage of a candlelight vigil following the November 2006 fire that killed 11 people at the Anderson Guest House, a story he concluded simply and powerfully.

Midway through the service, the crowd joined in singing three verses of the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Becky Moyer, who lost her brother, Nathan Fisher, in the fire, credited the actions of caretaker Glenn Taff for saving several lives that night. Taff, 19, also died in the blaze while attempting to get residents out of the burning building. His wife, Amanda, 18, remains in a Springfield hospital with severe burns.

"I just want to get the message to Mr. Taff's family that he was a hero," she said.

Though he left the Neosho Daily News in 2015, John continued to write sharing many observations with his friends, and I consider myself fortunate to be among that sizable group. Thirteen months ago, he shared his thoughts after the passing of Kay Hively, who worked at the Daily for many years.

“My mind is sifting through the many hundreds of memories I have out there. Foremost, she loved her family -- including a circle of friends she considered family -- with all of her heart. Always there to lend an ear and extend a helping hand. And always, her faith shined through. I love her like another mother, and have no doubt she is currently reuniting with old friends and loved ones.”

A long, difficult battle has ended for John Ford providing him with that opportunity to reunite with old friends and loved ones. Thank you, John, for your service to this community and your dedication to your readers. 

Say hi to Kay and Dean Keeling for me.

St. Ann's Catholic School mourns loss of teacher

St. Ann's Catholic School in Carthage will have an early release Thursday, September 2, for those wishing to attend the visitation and funeral of Title I teacher DeGee Brown, which are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. at Mason-Woodard Mortuary in Joplin.

Mrs. Brown died Friday morning, according to a posting on the school's Facebook page.

With great sadness I have to tell you that our sweet Mrs. Brown passed away this morning. As some may know, she had not been feeling well the last few months. She had been visiting with her doctors to see what was making her not feel well. 

Yesterday, her husband contacted me to let me know that she was having a rough morning, but was fighting him to come to school. He wanted her to stay home.

Our Lord, knowing her pain and suffering, decided to bring her home to Him and to stop her pain. What a great God He is, because she now is with Him rejoicing in His glory. 

Mrs. Brown leaves behind a wonderful loving husband of 36 years, Mark, her son Aaron, and her twin daughters Alyssa and Lauren. Please keep them in your prayers along with her father and her three brothers.

This morning, we contacted Carthage R9 Public School who graciously sent us three wonderful counselors to help us in telling our teachers and the students of Mrs. Brown’s passing. 

Father Paco, Father Marino, and Deacon Jim met with our students 1st grade through 6th grade to have a prayer service. We spent about two hours at church praying, reminiscing, laughing, and crying as we told stories and remembered Mrs. Brown and how she touched all of our lives.

 Mrs. Brown began her teaching career at St. Ann's and returned five years ago after retiring from the Carthage R-9 School District where she worked for three years. She worked in the Joplin R-8 School District for 13 years, starting as a reading recovery teacher at Irving, Kelsey Norman and Cecil Floyd elementary schools. She later served as the district's literacy coordinator and was an instructional coach.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Eight COVID-19 cases reported in McDonald County


Jasper County confirms 23 COVID-19 cases

(From the Jasper County Health Department)

COVID Update 8-27-2021

23 new positive cases

<1 year 0
1-4 yrs 0
5-11 yrs 2
12-19yrs 2
20-29yrs 5
30-39yrs 4
40-49yrs 1
50-59yrs 3
60-69yrs 3
70-79yrs 3
80-89yrs 0
90+yrs 0
Vaccinated = 0
Reinfection = 0

Carthage man arrested for sexual exploitation of underage Michigan girl

An initial appearance was held this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield for a Carthage man charged with sexually exploiting an underage girl.

The arraignment and detention hearing for Charles Ward Kuentzel, 25, Carthage, is scheduled for 10 a.m. September 1. He is being held without bond in the Greene County Jail.

According to the probable cause affidavit, law enforcement's trail to Kuentzel began with a report from the mother of a Canton, Michigan girl who told police her daughter was involved in an inappropriate online relationship with an adult male and provided screenshots in which the man's face was visible.

From the screenshots, the FBI determined Kuentzel and the girl were engaged in video chats with Kuentzel saying in one such chat that he wanted her "to get on her knees," and then graphically described things she could do to herself and things he could do to her.

A database search found a partial name match for Kuentzel and a Missouri driver's license identification of him that appeared to be the same man who was involved in the conversations.

In an interview with the FBI, the child said they had begun their chats at around the start of the 2020-2021 school year and the chats later took a sexual turn and the two began showing each other "different parts of our bodies."

Jane Doe identified the photos of the redheaded Kuentzel as the man she knew as "Charlie." The photos included photos of his genital area which also featured red hair. She also identified her own photos.

Federal agents conducted a search warrant of Kuentzel's home on Pine Street in Carthage August 18 and confiscated his cell phone, which contained the same photos the FBI had been investigating. 

A search of Kuentzel's criminal history revealed an earlier incident in which he had been involved with an underage child.

His criminal history included a 2018 arrest for kidnapping out of Jasper County, Missouri, a 2018 arrest for unlawful restraint out of the Wheeler County, Texas Sheriff's Office and a 2018 guilty plea to harboring a runaway child in the 31st District in Texas.

That case was described in an August 31, 2017 Carthage Police Department news release:

On 08/31/2017 21-year-old Charles Ward Kuentzel Jr. was arrested at his residence, 520 Pine St. in Carthage, on a felony warrant out of Wheeler County, Texas for unlawful restraint for taking a 15-year-old female, missing from her home in Texas since 07/24/2017, and bringing her to Missouri. The juvenile was found and is being reunited with her family.

Charles was also charged here with kidnapping 1st degree, endangering the welfare of a child 1st Degree and fugitive from justice.

The Jasper County charges were dismissed when Kuentzel was extradited to Texas, where a plea agreement was reached and he pleaded guilty to harboring a runaway child.

In an interview with the FBI, the child said they had begun their chats at around the start of the 2020-2021 school year and the chats later took a sexual turn and the two began showing each other "different parts of our bodies."

Jane Doe identified the photos of the redheaded Kuentzel as the man she knew as "Charlie." The photos included photos of his genital area which also featured red hair. She also identified her own photos.

Federal agents conducted a search warrant of Kuentzel's home on Pine Street in Carthage August 18 and confiscated his cell phone, which contained the same photos the FBI had been investigating.

Billy Long: If Trump were president we would not have 13 dead service members

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

While campaigning for president, Joe Biden promised he would not be Donald Trump. This may have been the most honest thing he has ever said. 

Since taking office, whenever given the chance, President Biden has sought to overturn every successful pro-American policy implemented by President Trump. The end result is that in seven short months, America has become unrecognizable to the country we once knew. 

To paraphrase FDR 'January 20, 2021 is a date that will live in infamy.' Keystone XL Pipeline gone, border wall halted, foreign policy - embarrassing on the world stage, inflation rampant, gasoline prices - higher than a cat’s back. 

Before he started forgetting everything, President Biden was bound and determined to forget and erase everything the 45th President had accomplished. You can rest assured that if Trump was still at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we would not have abandoned our Bagram Air Base before evacuating our Embassy personnel and all Americans that wanted to leave as we exited Afghanistan. There also would not be 13 dead service members and thousands of Americans and our allies still trapped behind enemy lines.

I'm sure you've noticed that the cost of everything from gas to groceries to lumber has shot through the roof since January 20. Over the last several months, key inflation indexes have continued to hit record highs. 

From an economic standpoint, this should come as no surprise. This is all very reminiscent of 1979 when we had the second worst President in American history. Now we have the worst, and the liberal progressive democrats in DC are partying without masks like it's 1979. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have gone on a wild spending spree and are asking all of us to pay the bill. 

President Biden says that no one making less than $400,000 a year will see a tax increase, and if you believe that I have some ocean front property in Arizona you might be interested in. Rising cost of goods due to bad economic policies is a tax on everyone, particularly on lower and middle-class Americans. President Biden campaigned on repealing the Trump Tax Cuts, and that is exactly what he intends to do. Increasing both spending and taxes will only make inflation worse.

While inflation is spiking, another crisis rages at our southern border. Since January, there has been a record number of illegal border crossings, with the number increasing every month. July saw more than 212,000 apprehensions by Border Patrol, a 21-year high. 

We were told that the numbers would fall again once the summer months arrived but unfortunately this was not the case. These numbers have increased because President Biden threw out President Trump’s strong border policies. New wall construction was halted almost immediately after President Biden took office and the absurd catch and release policy was reinstated. 

The result was a swift upswing in illegal crossings. If we are going to control the border, we need to bring back these Trump era policies. The only thing lower than Biden's approval numbers is the morale among the brave public servants of the once proud Border Patrol. Being babysitters and paper pushers is not what they signed up for and they are quitting in droves.

President Biden is not just reversing President Trump’s policies at home but abroad as well. Last year, President Trump negotiated the most significant Middle East peace deal in 30 years. He was able to do this by standing strong with Israel and against Iran. President Trump took an unconventional approach to foreign policy, and guess what, it worked. On the other hand, President Biden has decided to return to the status quo on Israel and Iran, which will only serve the interests of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

These are just a few areas where President Biden has completely reversed the accomplishments of the last four years. It's not about protecting President Trump's legacy as much as it's about protecting and restoring his policies that were moving the country in the right direction. After four years of moving the ball forward, we cannot sit idly by while this president takes his ball and goes home to his basement while leaving innocent Americans stranded behind enemy lines overseas.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Hartzler: Biden must resign because of his gross incompetence

 In a Facebook post this afternoon, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler said President Joe Biden must resign due to the events that are taking place in Afghanistan.

It's clear that there was no plan for this withdrawal. Biden must resign because of his gross incompetence.
Hartzler is a candidate for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Roy Blunt, who is not seeking re-election.


Newton County reports 22 new COVID-19 cases, 156 active cases

(From the Newton County Health Department)

Covid-19 Update
August 26, 2021
22 New Cases
156 Active Cases
4 Daily Recovered Cases

New cases by age range for August 24, 2021:

Total= 22
<1 yr= 0
1-11 yrs= 2
12-19 yrs= 2
20-29 yrs= 4
30-39 yrs= 1
40-49 yrs= 0
50-59 yrs= 8
60-69 yrs= 3
70-79 yrs= 2
80-89 yrs= 0
90+ yrs= 0

Covid-19 tests conducted in Newton County for week of August 19 – August 25, 2021:

701 Total Tests
577 Negative Tests
124 Positive tests
17.70% Positivity Rate

Covid-19 Cumulative Tests for Newton County:

51,031 Total Tests
42,584 Negative Tests
8,447 Positive Tests
16.60% Positivity Rate

Newton County Vaccinations given:

23,577 Total Vaccinations
26.50% Percentage of population with one dose
22.20% Percentage of population with two doses
578 Number of doses administered in the last 7 days

Twenty-two COVID-19 cases confirmed in Jasper County

The Jasper County Health Department confirmed 22 new COVID-19 cases, with 16 of them occurring in people under age 50.

COVID Update 8-26-2021
22 new positive cases

<1 year 0
1-4 yrs 1
5-11 yrs 2
12-19yrs 2

20-29yrs 5
30-39yrs 1
40-49yrs 4
50-59yrs 1
60-69yrs 3
70-79yrs 2
80-89yrs 0
90+yrs 1
Vaccinated = 4
Reinfection = 1

Joplin Health Department confirms 16 new COVID-19 cases

The Joplin Health Department confirmed 16 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, according to statistics posted on the city's website.

The new cases bring the city's total to 8,124.

Joplin has recorded 162 deaths due to COVID-19.

Hartzler on Kabul explosions: Biden Administration should be held accountable


(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) issued the following statement regarding the explosions in Kabul, Afghanistan:

“Today’s explosions outside Kabul’s airport underscored the necessity for a thorough and well-thought-out withdrawal plan to ensure the safety and security of Americans in Afghanistan.

But President Biden disregarded intelligence, lied to the nation on this reality, and put our citizens who are stranded in Afghanistan in grave danger. This administration has shown incompetence at every stage of this catastrophe and should be held accountable for the lives they have put at risk.”

Missouri school districts continue mask mandates despite attorney general's lawsuit

By Rudi Keller

The schools in Gov. Mike Parson’s hometown will continue to require students, teachers and staff to wear masks indoors despite a lawsuit filed by the Missouri attorney general challenging public school mask mandates across the state.

The Bolivar R-1 Board of Education in Polk County voted in a special meeting this month to require masks as a way to keep school doors open and students in class, Richard Asbill, the district’s superintendent, said Wednesday.

With only 28 substitute teachers to cover 250 to 265 certified staff, and only one substitute on call in case a food-service worker is ill, Asbill said the margins are slim.

“If I start losing staff to quarantine and COVID-positive cases, my capacity to assure parents their children will have in-person learning is very, very diminished,” Asbill said. “I am advocating for in-person learning. I want parents to be able to go to work and drop their children off at school.”

Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Columbia Public Schools alleging that its mask mandate violates state law and constitutional rights. He wants to make the case a class-action lawsuit against all school districts requiring masks, estimated in the suit at about 50.

The attack on school mask rules comes as a larger share of COVID-19 cases are being reported among school-aged children and a handful of schools are being forced to cancel or postpone Friday night football games because of outbreaks.

Missouri was hit early by the Delta variant wave, which peaked statewide in the first week of August, when the seven-day average of reported cases was just over 3,000 per day. On Wednesday, the seven-day average of cases was down to 2,420 per day.

Of 1,898 lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections reported statewide Wednesday by the Department of Health and Senior Services, 18 percent were among children under 18. In the spring, cases in that age group averaged about 10.5 percent of infections.

The department reported 2,716 total cases Wednesday, including 818 identified by antigen testing. The department does not provide age data on antigen-tested cases.

In a statement issued Wednesday through spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark, the Columbia district promised to defend its rule but would not say whether it will accept the role of representative of the entire class.

“We cannot comment on the Attorney General’s litigation strategy, but the Columbia Public Schools is prepared to aggressively defend our decision to prioritize the safety of our scholars and our staff as the global pandemic continues to move through our community,” the statement read.

Boone County has been averaging 60 to 70 new COVID-19 cases per day since mid-July, but it is not among the worst-hit counties during the Delta variant surge that began in mid-May.

Like the Bolivar school district, Columbia schools are relying on local health agencies for advice as well as guidance from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Centers for Disease Control.

Polk County, in southwest Missouri, has been among the hardest hit by the Delta variant. It has the fifth-highest per capita infection rate in the state since May 1 and was 16th highest out of 117 local health jurisdictions during July.

The Polk County infection rate has declined in August, Asbill said, and a decision to continue the mask rule will be made at the next board meeting.

The district views its mask policy as consistent with the “modified quarantine” guidance issued by the state in November, Asbill said. Instead of remaining at home for 14 days after close contact with a positive COVID-19 case, if both the close contact and individual who tested positive were wearing masks, the person in close contact does not need to be quarantined.

On Wednesday, he said, eight students and a teacher were in class after a close contact because they were wearing masks.

“It is difficult right now to be punished for following a rule and a standard the state provided us,” he said.

The declarations in the lawsuit, that the decision to require masks in schools is “unlawful, unconstitutional, arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable,” are a slap in the face, Asbill said.

“When the Attorney General said local boards of education are being capricious, that really is very insulting to people who are elected locally to represent a community,” he said.

On the issue of masks, the state education department points to CDC guidance that masks should be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status.

“DESE was not aware of the Attorney General’s plans to file this lawsuit, so we are reviewing the case now and cannot comment further at this time,” the department said in a statement issued through spokeswoman Mallory McGowin.

The department wants a safe and successful start to the year, the statement read.

“DESE supports local school leaders in their ongoing efforts to keep their doors open for in-person learning and provide a safe educational environment for students and staff,” the statement read.

Schmitt wants the courts to recognize that a new law limiting the duration of local health orders applies to school districts because they are political subdivisions.

The law is the basis of similar lawsuits Schmitt has filed against mask mandates in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jackson County and Kansas City.

Because a political subdivision is defined in state law as “any agency or unit of this state which now is, or hereafter shall be, authorized to levy taxes or empowered to cause taxes to be levied,” the law could also be used to challenge mask mandates on the nine public community colleges that are requiring face coverings.

The state’s 13 four-year university campuses are not covered by the law because they do not have taxing authority.

Developments in other cases, however, could block enforcement of the new law before the Columbia case can get a hearing.

On Wednesday, the city of Overland in St. Louis County filed a lawsuit in Cole County asking the courts to block enforcement of all provisions of the bill because it violates the state constitution’s provision that bills must have a single subject.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, began its legislative life as a three-page measure to increase financial reporting by local public agencies. By the time it was approved and sent to the governor’s desk, it grew to 49 pages and included changes to 25 chapters of state law, in 51 different provisions, from the public health restrictions to rural electric cooperatives to making it a felony to steal a catalytic converter.

Overland objects to a provision that limits its ability to charge fees for access to public rights-of-way.

“The Missouri Supreme Court has provided repeated and increasingly frequent warnings to the General Assembly and the Governor of the impropriety of enacting similarly flawed laws,” Overland’s lawsuit states. “This bill reflects that these admonishments continue to go largely unheeded, and it once again falls to the courts to ensure the integrity of the legislative process established by the people in the Missouri Constitution.”

A hearing on Overland’s request for a temporary restraining order is set for Thursday before Judge Daniel Green.

In another case challenging the validity of the bill, Green is considering arguments made Friday in a case challenging state control of local health orders intended to control large animal feeding farms.

If the bill survives those challenges, Schmitt may find it difficult to obtain certification of all school districts with mask requirements as a class of defendants, said longtime Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield.

“Usually a class action is for a whole bunch of people you are going to have trouble finding,” said Hatfield, who previously served in the attorney general’s office under Democrat Jay Nixon.

The state education department does not track which districts have mask rules and which do not. But with only about 50 districts requiring masks, it shouldn’t be difficult to identify them, Hatfield said.

“It would be hard but not that hard to file against 50 districts,” Hatfield said.

Class-action lawsuits on behalf of a class of plaintiffs is common.

“Defendant class actions are so rare they have been compared to ‘unicorns,’” federal appeals court Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., wrote in a 2007 opinion.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Greene County reports 22 COVID-19 deaths

(From the Springfield-Greene County Health Department)

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is reminding immunocompromised individuals to get vaccinated, following the deaths of another 22 Greene County residents. 

The 22 COVID-19 deaths were reported to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department between August 18 and 24. Among those where the information is available, all had underlying health conditions putting them at increased risk for serious disease. 

Risk factors included heart conditions, obesity, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease. Of those we are reporting, 18 deaths occurred in August, bringing the total number of deaths in August to 42. Those lost ranged in age from their 40s to their 90s.

A total of 578 Greene County residents have died from COVID-19. Of those who have died since January, 93% were not fully vaccinated. All fully vaccinated individuals who’ve died had underlying health conditions, highlighting how important it is to get vaccinated – especially those with a high-risk medical condition. 

For immunocompromised individuals who have already completed their 2-dose series of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending a third dose 28 days after receiving their second dose. Although hospitalizations and fatalities among fully vaccinated individuals are rare, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that immunocompromised individuals may have a reduced response to the COVID-19 vaccination, leaving them more susceptible to illness.


Those who have questions about whether they should receive a third dose of the vaccine should speak with their physician.

The Health Department will be administering third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to eligible individuals at the Westside Clinic at 660 S. Scenic on Friday from 8 am – 12 pm. An appointment is required and can be made at vaccine417.com or by calling our COVID-19 call center at (417) 874-1211.

Per CDC guidance, individuals who should receive a third dose include those who have:
Active cancer treatment for solid tumors or cancers of the blood
Received a solid organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
Received a stem cell transplant (within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system)
Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
Advanced or untreated HIV infection
Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

The COVID-19 vaccines are our best defense against the virus and the Delta variant circulating in our community. The vaccines are safe, effective and help prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

A complete list of vaccine opportunities can be found at vaccine417.com or by calling (417) 874-1211.

Appellate court upholds Lockwood man's 75-year sentence for shootings at Prairie Mountain Screening

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals upheld the 75-year sentence of a Lockwood man who shot at three people and seriously injured the owner and an employee at Prairie Mountain Screening August 1, 2016.

Caleb Zane Eccher, 25, said his verdict should be overturned because he relied on his lawyer's advice that he would receive 25 years in prison if he pleaded guilty. Eccher's appellate attorney claimed his client has mild autism which might have kept him from fully understanding there was a chance he would receive a more severe sentence.

The appellate panel rejected that argument, noting that the doctor who said Eccher was autistic also said he was capable of understanding what was going on and able to help in his own defense.

Eccher's attorney also claimed the sentence given to his client was cruel and unusual punishment, especially considering that Eccher was only 20 at the time the crimes were committed.

The appellate panel noted defendants are not guaranteed release during their natural lives.

Those who commit truly horrifying nonhomicide crimes may be irredeemable and thus deserving of incarceration for the duration of their lives.

Eccher's crimes were described in the opinion: 

Eccher was driving to work when he noticed a vehicle driven by Donald Hembree, a former co-worker against whom Eccher bore a grudge. 

Eccher pursued Hembree’s vehicle until it stopped. Eccher got out of his vehicle, took his already-loaded shotgun and shot at Hembree’s vehicle six times. Hembree drove away, eventually stopping at his workplace. 

Eccher pursued Hembree, reloaded, and fired two more shots at Hembree as he fled into the workplace. The shots missed Hembree but struck a bystander, Krista Gerster. 

Eccher then went around to the other side of the building, where he saw Michael Galer kneeling on the ground. Eccher shot Galer in the neck. Gerster was hospitalized for several days and would have shotgun pellets still embedded in her chest cavity years later. 

Galer thought he was going to die. Surgeons worked for 15 hours to keep him alive, removed bullet fragments from his chest and spine, and stabilized his neck with titanium rods. He spent 17 days in the ICU and eight months in a rehabilitation hospital. 

Eccher’s attack left Galer a quadripalegic who will require constant care for the rest of his life. 

Eccher was charged with seven felonies: two counts of first-degree assault with serious physical injuries (class A felonies), one count of attempted first-degree assault (class B felony), unlawful use of a weapon, and three counts of armed criminal action (“ACA”). 

The state offered to recommend an aggregate 90-year sentence if Eccher pleaded guilty, which Eccher rejected. Nonetheless, Eccher and his attorney supposed that a guilty plea would result in more lenient sentencing and concurrent sentences rather than consecutive. 

On the day his trial was scheduled to begin, Eccher entered an open guilty plea on all seven counts. 

At the sentencing hearing, the court heard from the victims, their families, Eccher, his family, and others. Before pronouncing sentence, the court expressly stated it had considered the “very comprehensive,” 17-page sentencing assessment report, Eccher’s personal and family history, and Eccher’s mental issues. 

Eccher was sentenced to 30 years for each class A felony assault and 15 years for the class B felony assault, with each sentence to run consecutively. Eccher received 10 years for each ACA and 15 years for unlawful use of a weapon, all running concurrently with his other sentences. 

By application of § 558.019.3,1 Eccher, who was 20 at the time he committed his crimes, will not be eligible for parole consideration until he is 70 years old.2 

Grand jury indicts El Charro owner, Joplin, CJ residents on RICO charges

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

The owner of dozens of Mexican restaurants in several states, along with the company’s president, CFO, controller and sales manager are among 19 defendants charged in a federal racketeering conspiracy to hire undocumented workers. 

Also among those charged are eight current or former managers of restaurants located in Butler, Springfield, Lebanon, West Plains, Willow Springs and St. Robert in Missouri; and in Overland Park, Great Bend and Augustus in Kansas.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, with the assistance of numerous local, states, and federal agencies, executed a series of search warrants today at 10 locations in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Federal agents have so far arrested 14 of the 19 defendants.

Jose Luis Bravo, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of Claremore, Oklahoma; Jose Guadalupe Razo, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of Carl Junction, Mo.; Anthony Edward Doll, 43, a citizen of Guatemala, and Miguel Tarin-Martinez, 42, a naturalized U.S. citizen, both of Joplin, Mo.; Antonio Martinez-Munoz, 44, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of Broken Arrow, Okla.; Eusebio Ramirez-Ceja, 50, a citizen of Mexico residing in Mountain Home, Arkansas; Oscar Adrian Molina-Angulo, 38, a citizen of Mexico residing in Butler, Mo.; Rodrigo Manrique Razo, 38, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of Great Bend, Kan.; Alejandro Castillo-Ramirez, 39, a citizen of Mexico residing in Augusta, Kan.; Juan Carlos Palma-Cedeno, 36, a citizen of Mexico residing in Claremore, Okla.; Ramon Moreno-Hernandez, 39, a citizen of Mexico residing in Nevada, Mo.; Jose Luis Lopez-Valadez, 41, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of West Plains, Mo.; Lorenzo Castro-Manzanarez, 39, a citizen of Mexico residing in St. Robert, Mo.; Jaime Ramirez-Ceja, 42, a citizen of Mexico residing in Lebanon, Mo.; Jose Luis Rodriguez-Valerio, 57, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of Tulsa, Okla.; Veronica Razo De Lara, 46, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of Great Bend, Kan.; Edgar Perez-Perez, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Bernardo Rivas-Gomez, 48, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Elizabeth City, North Carolina; and Daniel Rivas-Carrillo, 23, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Elizabeth City, N.C.; were charged in a 64-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 10, 2021. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of the defendants.

The federal indictment alleges that 17 of the 19 co-defendants were part of an organized criminal enterprise from July 2003 to Aug. 10, 2021, that smuggled Mexican, Guatemalan, and El Salvadoran nationals who were not authorized to live or work in the United States. 

Conspirators allegedly harbored them in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Bravo, Doll, Tarin-Martinez and Jose Razo created a network of restaurants operating as LLCs in states throughout the Midwest. Bravo and his co-conspirators allegedly supplied these restaurants with undocumented workers to staff positions at the restaurants. 

According to the indictment, conspirators did not pay the appropriate state and federal payroll taxes, overtime wages, and worker's compensation for the unauthorized employees.

In addition to smuggling and harboring undocumented workers, the indictment alleges the racketeering activity included fraud (in connection with identification documents), fraud and misuse of visas and other documents, and money laundering. Members and associates of the criminal enterprise shielded unauthorized employees from detection by immigration authorities by eliminating records of their employment, paying them by personal check and in cash, failing to maintain complete and accurate Forms I-9 and required wage and hour reports for these employees, assisting them with the acquisition of false identification documents (such as Social Security numbers and alien resident documents), and making false statements to immigration authorities and law enforcement officials.

Bravo, identified in the indictment as the leader of the enterprise, is the owner of Specialty Food Distribution in Joplin. Bravo is also the owner of a group of restaurants registered as Bravos Group, LLC, including El Charro, El Charrito, Playa Azul, Itza, LLC, Cantina Bravo, and El Chango.

Specialty Food Distribution is a wholesale distributor of food, supplies, and equipment to restaurants throughout the Midwest. Specialty Food Distribution also provides administrative and accounting support to restaurants in the areas of payroll. insurance, licensing, taxes, and legal services. Several restaurants serviced by Specialty Food Distribution allegedly employed aliens who were unauthorized to work in the United States.

According to the indictment, 31 limited liability companies (LLCs) operated 45 Mexican restaurants in multiple states and at least an additional 11 companies were involved in restaurant supply and logistics, real estate and construction. These 45 restaurants received goods and services from Specialty Food Distribution and another company, Intel Solutions, LLC. After federal inspections occurred at restaurants affiliated with conspirators, the indictment says, they formed Intel Solutions to assume those administrative duties, in name only, as a way to conceal and minimize the level of involvement in the inspected restaurants by members and associates of the criminal enterprise. Intel Solutions later changed its name to Entel Solutions, LLC.

According to the indictment, Bravo supplied unauthorized alien workers to managers at restaurants in which he had a financial interest. Bravo arranged to have undocumented workers smuggled into the United States to work at these restaurants and other businesses, the indictment says. Bravo allegedly assisted these aliens with obtaining fraudulent documents that would allow them to work in the United States. He allegedly helped secure transportation and lodging for them en route to restaurants where they were to work.

Jose Razo is the president of Specialty Food Distribution. Razo allegedly employed unauthorized workers at Specialty Foods Distribution as salesmen and warehouse workers, and directed other employees to limit these workers’ exposure to potential immigration inspections. Jose Razo also allegedly counseled restaurant managers on how to manage, document, and compensate unauthorized workers in ways that would minimize their detection by immigration officials.

Doll is the chief financial officer of Specialty Food Distribution. Tarin-Martinez is employed as controller of Specialty Food Distribution. Martinez-Munoz is employed as a sales manager of Specialty Food Distribution.

Ramirez-Ceja is a manager of several El Charro Restaurants in Arkansas and Missouri, as well as some Playa Azul restaurants in Kansas. Molina-Angulo is the manager of the El Charro Restaurant in Butler. Castillo-Ramirez is the manager of El Charro Restaurant in Augustus. Lopez-Valadez is the manager of Cantina Bravo in St. Robert and the El Charro Restaurants in West Plains. Castro-Manzanarez is the manager at Cantina Bravo in St. Robert. Ramirez-Ceja is the manager of the El Charro Restaurant in Springfield and in Lebanon. Rodriguez-Valerio was until recently manager of Bravos Mexican Grill in Overland Park. Razo De Lara is the manager of Maria’s Mexican Grill in Great Bend.

According to the federal indictment, the investigation began when the Kansas Department of Labor contacted Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) regarding allegations that unauthorized aliens were employed at the Bravos Mexican Grill in Overland Park. When HSI announced a Form I-9 inspection on July 16, 2018, agents discovered that 14 of the 17 Bravos employees whose I-9 forms had been inspected were ineligible to work. During another inspection of Bravos on Feb. 28, 2019, agents identified eight unauthorized aliens working there. Five of those employees had been identified previously as ineligible to work.

On June 7, 2019, HSI inspected 10 restaurants in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Those restaurants operated under LLCs, doing business as El Charro (Claremore, Butler and Springfield), Playa Azul (Great Bend, Pratt, Kan., and Wichita, Kan.), Iguana Azul (Nevada, Mo.), Los Sauces (Nevada, Mo.), and La Paloma (Springfield). All of them were found to have employed unauthorized workers. Approximately 68 percent of the employees audited at the restaurants were not authorized to work in the United States.

On Sept. 13, 2019, HSI agents inspected restaurants in Missouri and Kansas that were affiliated with the defendants. Those restaurants operated under LLCs doing business as Cantina Bravo (St. Robert), Cantina Bravo Grille (Webb City, Mo.), El Charro (Neosho, Mo., Marshfield, Mo., West Plains, Joplin, and Pittsburg, Kansas), Maria's Mexican Grill (Great Bend), and Playa Azul (Augusta). All of the restaurants were found to have employed unauthorized employees.

All of the defendants, with the exception of Rivas-Gomez and Rivas-Carrillo, are charged with participating in the racketeering conspiracy. Rivas-Gomez and Rivas-Carrillo are each charged with one count of the use of an unlawfully obtained document and one count of the false representation of a Social Security number.

In addition to the RICO conspiracy, defendants are charged in various counts of transporting illegal aliens, hiring illegal aliens, continuing employment of an unauthorized alien, use of unlawfully obtained documents, false attestations, false representations of Social Security numbers, and the unlawful production and transfer of identification documents.

Bravo, Molina-Angulo and Palma-Cedeno are also charged with participating in a conspiracy to commit identification document fraud.

Bravo, Moreno-Hernandez, Castro-Manzanarez, and Perez-Perez are also charged with participating in a conspiracy to transport aliens.

Bravo, Doll, Razo, Tarin-Martinez, and Lopez-Valadez are also charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy and in various counts of money laundering.

The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations against several defendants, which would require them to forfeit to the government the funds contained in several bank accounts as well as real estate located in Great Bend, Pittsburg, and Augusta in Kansas; Butler, Joplin, and West Plains in Missouri; and Claremore, Okmulgee, Muskogee, Enid, and Tahlequah in Oklahoma.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudolph R. Rhodes IV. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and IRS-Criminal Investigations.