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Six people who operated or worked for a St. Louis County-based prearranged funeral company are going to prison for terms ranging from 18 months to 10 years for defrauding customers.
The owner of National Prearranged Services, James "Doug" Cassity and his son, Brent Cassity avoided possible life terms by striking plea deals over the summer.
Federal prosecutors say the defendants sentenced Thursday operated a business that was nothing more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme and bilked more than 97,000 customers out of nearly a half-billion dollars.
All six defendants were ordered to turn themselves in after the holidays.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The job is one of the most dangerous in the Marine Corps.
The four Marines killed Wednesday while clearing unexploded ordnance at California's Camp Pendleton were bomb removal technicians. It is one of the few positions in which the Marine Corps allows team members to quit at any time. That's because their mental focus could mean the difference between life or death, either for themselves or their fellow troops.
Few quit, despite the inherent risks that come with finding and getting rid of unexploded munitions — whether on the battlefield or on a U.S. base, according to former bomb technicians.
The four were killed around 11 a.m. during a routine sweep to make a range safer for future training exercises at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, said a Marine official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. There was no live firing on the range at the time.
Base officials said they would not release details until an investigation into the cause of the accident is concluded. They released the names of the dead Thursday night.
They were Staff Sgt. Mathew R. Marsh, 28, of Long Beach, Calif., Sgt. Miguel Ortiz, 27, of Vista, Calif., Gunnery Sgt. J. Mullins, 31, of Bayou L'Ourse, La., and Staff Sgt. Eric W. Summers, 32, of Poplar Bluff, Mo.
One Navy Hospital Corpsman and two Marines near the accident had minor injuries, officials said.
The bomb disposal community is a small, tight-knit one like no other within the Marine Corps. They are bonded by their fearlessness, mental strength and deep ties from losing so many members over the years, say former bomb technicians.
The Corps currently has 715 explosive ordnance disposal technicians. During the Iraq war, Marines lost 20 bomb technicians, and another 24 have been killed in Afghanistan.
The last fatal accident for a Marine bomb technician in the United States was about two decades ago, when one was killed while doing a range sweep at Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Corps base in Southern California, according to the Marine Corps.
Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brian Meyer said he was drawn to what is considered to be one of the Marine Corps' most dangerous jobs because of the challenge. Bomb technicians work in a team but are often entrusted to make decisions in the field on their own, such as whether it is safe enough to move unexploded ordnance or defuse a roadside bomb.
Meyer was injured while trying to dispose of an IED in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on March 14, 2011. The homemade bomb blew off his right hand, right leg and three fingers on his left hand. He's lost more than a dozen fellow bomb technicians and knows about 15 others who have suffered injuries, like himself.
"It's hard to pick out one specific reason why I wanted to do this job," he said, adding that he would do it all again. "It's not a job in which you call your supervisor to make a decision. You're often the expert. You make the calls and work independently. There's a lot of trust placed in you. You're part of an elite group."
Those who become bomb technicians generally have already served four years in the Marine Corps. They undergo vigorous mental and physical screenings. The military scrutinizes their personal lives, checking to make sure they do not have any legal issues or other problems that could affect their job performance, said Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine Corps spokeswoman.
"They really only take the most highly qualified Marine since they will be keeping their fellow Marines safe," she said. "If at any time there's an issue, like someone has (post-traumatic stress disorder), or is going through a divorce, they can ask to be removed because obviously safety is huge for this community."
The Marine Corps does not have a shortage of candidates to fill the slots, Krebs said.
Meyer said the job is "exhilarating." It requires math, problem-solving, and quick thinking. Some use bomb suits to protect themselves, but the suits can also pose more of a risk because they are cumbersome and easy to trip in, Meyer said. And, he added, they cannot protect against being hit by a direct explosion.
It is not known whether the four Marines were in bomb suits or what equipment they were using.
The team usually decides those details depending on the situation, said Meyer, who cleared a range at Pendleton in 2010.
Explosives on artillery ranges on bases can vary in size, and clearing ranges can be as dangerous as diffusing bombs on the battlefield, Meyer said. Usually, the team marks a point from A to B, deciding what's movable and what's not. The team will group together the movable explosives, and then detonate them.
"With unexploded ordnance, you can do everything right and stuff can still go sideways only because it's all so unpredictable," he said.
Governor Nixon was on hand for the grand opening of a high-tech bioscience research company in the Central West End. Cofactor Genomics celebrated the opening of their $3.8 million dollar headquarters at the corner of Clayton and Sarah Streets. Jarret Glasscock is the CEO and founder, and he says the biotechnology industry is key to improving the St. Louis work force.
"We're hiring individuals and talent that is considering being on the west coast or the east coast and that's the talent we're competing for" said Nixon. "So as we continue to invest in this area and we gain that reputation, it becomes easier. It's like a snowball effect, getting more talent here. So that's what we're hoping to have."
As part of the 10,000 squat foot expansion, Cofactor plans on hiring 24 new employees.
With an executive order, Missouri joins rare company in the fight for marriage equality.
Governor Jay Nixon ordered to Department of Revenue to accept tax returns from same-sex couples who were married in another state. This move mirrors one made by the IRS that same-sex marriages in any state will be recognized for tax purposes.
Missouri is the first state that does not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples but gives those couples the ability to file jointly.
A metro-east school was placed on lockdown as a precaution as police search for a suspect.
Fox 2 reports that shots were fired at a business near Caseyville Elementary School around 12:30 PM. The search was centered around Highway 157 near Caseyville. The school was locked down only as a precaution.
More details as they are available right here.
FARMINGTON, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri brother and sister have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for growing marijuana in their apartment.
The Daily Journal newspaper in Park Hills, Mo. reports that 24-year-old David DePriest was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison, and his 36-year-old sister, Natalie DePriest, received a 15-year sentence. Both lived in Farmington at the time of their arrest.
Their attorney, Dan Viets had asked for probation. Viets is state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Assistant St. Francois County prosecutor Pat King had sought the maximum sentence against David DePriest, calling it a large-scale operation and noting that he had guns and bullet-proof vests. Viets said 12 plants and eight baby sprouts in a closet are not a large operation.
Officials with the University of Missouri - St. Louis say the North and South campuses are closed today, due to a water outage.
An email that went to students and faculty says all day and evening classes are canceled and everyone is excused.
No information on what caused to water outage was available.
He has only been known as John Doe 27. But Thursday, the FBI announced it had identified the man wanted in connection with child pornography circulating on the Internet.
Authorities say the man was photographed while engaging in sexually explicit activities with a child.
Law enforcement agencies went of the offensive earlier this week and it is now believed that tips generated from the publicity campaign have led to the identification and location, in the Midwest, of the man in the photographs.
At this time, no arrest warrants have been issued or served, but the investigation continues. The FBI says it is grateful to the public for their vigilance and assistance in this case.
The St. Louis Cardinals have announced the final tenants of Ballpark Village. They include Drunken Fish, Howl at the Moon, and iconic St. Louis business Ted Drewes. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, the first phase of Ballpark Village is now completely leased. Drunken Fish is a sushi restaurant and lounge with multiple locations in St. Louis including across the hall from KTRS at Westport. Howl at the Moon is a dueling piano bar with 16 location in the United States. And of course Ted Drewes will serve their famous frozen custard. The first phase of Ballpark Village is expected to open in April.
Illinois environmental officials say it will be at least a year before the process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is conducted in the state.
The Springfield State Journal reports the new state regulations for the practice are nearly complete.
Marc Miller, the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, says it will take months before permits are issued. That's because the state still needs to hold public hearings.
Miller says no companies have registered to conduct fracking since the state started sign-ups last month.
Fracking uses a high-pressure mixture of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack underground rock formations and release oil and natural gas.