Aug. 21 Regional News Briefs

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Woman sentenced for embezzling from company

BILLINGS (AP) — A former bookkeeper for a Montana trucking company was sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling nearly $100,000 from the firm. The Billings Gazette reports Elisha Ryan Finley also was ordered to pay $97,451 in restitution to G.D. Eastlick Inc. in Billings and its insurance company. Finley pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft as part of a plea agreement in which prosecutors dropped four counts each of wire fraud and aggravated identify theft. Court documents say Finley wrote herself checks from the company and forged the owner’s signature for about six months in 2016. She then altered the check stubs to make it appear that the checks had been voided and omitted them from the company books. Finley also was sentenced to three years supervised release following her prison term.

Authorities identify western Montana drowning victim

HAMILTON (AP) — Authorities have identified the 28-year-old Florence woman who died after drowning in a lake in western Montana. Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton says Rachel V. Warr was swimming and paddle boarding with a friend at Lake Como on Thursday when she slipped under the water and did not surface. Warr was not wearing a life jacket. Ravalli County Search and Rescue personnel located her body. Holton confirmed that drowning was the cause of death. A statement by Holton says the circumstances surrounding Warr’s death remain under investigation.

Landowners sue South Dakota utility, phone company over fire

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A group of landowners is suing a South Dakota utility and a Minnesota-based telephone company for alleged negligence in the thirdlargest wildfire in the Black Hills region’s history. The Rapid City Journal reports that the lawsuit was filed Friday in Custer County against Black Hills Power and Hanson Communications. Landowners allege the companies failed to use proper care around the root system of a large tree in Custer State Park. Investigators say December’s Legion Lake fire began when a tree fell onto a power line in the park. Flames spread into Wind Cave National Park and onto private property, ultimately scorching 84 square miles. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A spokeswoman for Black Hills Corporation, the parent company of Black Hills Power, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Drought conditions begin to creep into Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is seeing more hot, dry weather and with it some parts of the state are experiencing drought. Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows about 31 percent of the state is experiencing a moderate drought. Boise State Public Radio reports the drought regions include much of the Treasure Valley, the West Central Mountains, several counties in the southeast corner of the state and the tip of the Idaho panhandle. The only areas untouched by the summer dry spell so far include counties in eastern Idaho near the border with Montana and Wyoming. The U.S. Drought Monitor says states experiencing the most significant droughts include Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon and Utah. The U.S. Drought Monitor is a weekly map by the National Integrated Drought Information System that uses climatic and other data to track drought conditions nationwide.