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WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has soared in the past several years.

That's as the military emerges from a decade of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than on character.

Data obtained by The Associated Press shows that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct more than tripled in the past three years.

The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct jumped from about 5,600 in 2007 as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.

The data reveals stark differences between the military services, and shows the strains that long, repeated deployments to the front lines have had on soldiers and their leaders.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican former U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner says he is contemplating a run for Missouri governor in 2016.

Brunner told The Associated Press on Friday that he has received encouragement to run but doesn't plan to make a decision until after the 2014 elections.

His comments came several days after former U.S. attorney and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway announced her Republican candidacy for governor. Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich (shwyk) is another potential Republican candidate, but he first faces re-election this year.

Democratic Governor Jay Nixon is barred by term limits from seeking re-election. Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster already is building a gubernatorial campaign.

Brunner is a former St. Louis area businessman who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in the 2012 Republican primary.

Saturday, 15 February 2014 09:36
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Authorities in southwestern Illinois' Madison County are investigating the deaths of three people who died from suspected heroin overdoses after all three bodies were found within a span of five hours.

Coroner Stephen Nonn says the body of 29-year-old Katie Heavey of Collinsville was found Thursday night by her father.

Nonn says 38-year-old Dearold Oseland was found dead early Friday in his Roxana apartment by his girlfriend. That was about 90 minutes before 40-year-old Paul Simpson's body was found in his Granite City home.

Nonn says autopsies in each case were inconclusive, and toxicology tests are pending.

The coroner says evidence of drug use was found at each scene.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Saturday, 15 February 2014 09:34
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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — A southwestern Illinois doctor will be sentenced in April after he admitted defrauding the state's Medicaid program and illegally dispensing prescription medications.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports 68-year-old Viwathna Bhuthimethee of Alton pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis to one count of health care fraud and 14 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance.

Authorities say Bhuthimethee ran an Alton walk-in clinic with his wife. He was indicted in 2012.

Investigators accused him of operating a "pill mill" in which he prescribed more than 2,000 painkiller or anti-anxiety pills to four women from 2008 through 2010 outside the course of his professional practice.

He's set to be sentenced April 3.

Saturday, 15 February 2014 09:33
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