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   Three men who admit conspiring with ex-Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon to rig property tax auctions are free as they await sentencing.  

   John Vassen, Scott McLean and Barratt Rochman each pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to violating the Sherman Anti-trust Act.  The three men orchestrated a multi-year "pay-for-play" scam that cheated more than 10,000 property owners out of about $2 million in excessive interest and penalty payments.  

   Bathon had pleaded guilty in February to rigging tax lien auctions between 2005 and 2008 to benefit his political donors.

   U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams set the sentencing hearing for Vassen, McLean and Rochman for Feb. 21.

Friday, 18 October 2013 03:14
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   A group of north county residents want their neighbors near the West Lake Landfill to put more pressure on elected leaders to clean up the site.  About 100 people attended a public meeting Thursday night hosted by the West Lake Landfill Community Group and Missouri Coalition for the Environment.  

   MCE's Ed Smith told the group that the current fire smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill isn't the first to threaten the radioactive site.  "There was a landfill fire in the early 90s closer to the radioactive wastes than the current landfill fire," he said.

   That's why the groups say plans to build a barrier between the smoldering Bridgeton Landfill and West Lake isn't enough.  They want local leaders to put pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the soil, as they're doing at other radioactive waste sites.

   Missouri State Representative Bill Otto was among the political leaders who attended last night's meeting.  He told Fox 2 News that EPA work on the barrier project that had stopped because of the government shutdown is back on track.  "They're getting back in the office," he said.  "And getting ready to resume the work that they had started or were tasked to do with the landfill."

  Bridgeton Landfill LLC released the following statement:  "We're eager to resume work with  the EPA in conjunction with state agencies to begin the next stage of the construction."

  Pattonville Fire officials along with St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger and representatives from County Executive Charlie Dooley's office also attended the meeting.

   Organizers are calling on residents to note odor issues and contact their local politicians to make a change.

Friday, 18 October 2013 02:34
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams ran only 41 plays last week while riding a wave of turnovers to an easy win at Houston.

Still, Sam Bradford found a way to get almost everyone involved, with nine players combining for 12 receptions and three running backs getting touches.

Bradford is off to his best start of his career. Through six games, he is sixth in the NFC in completions (126) and tied for fourth in the NFL with 13 touchdown passes.

After a humbling 35-11 loss to San Francisco, the Rams were 1-3. In the last two weeks, Bradford has thrown three touchdown passes in each game, both wins. The Rams have outscored their last two opponents 72-33 to improve to 3-3.

Coach Jeff Fisher is happy with Bradford's play.

"Been great. No mistakes," Fisher said. "There's only two quarterbacks, I think, in the NFC that have more touchdown passes than he and one is (Cowboys QB Tony) Romo and the other's (Saints QB Drew) Brees. He's got 13 and they've got 14, so he's coming on. He enjoys what he's doing. He's managing the thing and practicing well. His feet are excellent right now in the pocket, so he's playing well."

Against Houston, the Rams scored 38 points while running just 42 offensive plays. Bradford threw just 16 passes with no interceptions against the Texans. He finished with a 134.6 passer rating, the highest of his career for a single game.

There's more to it than Bradford: The Rams have been using multiple tight end sets and the running game has benefited. Rookie running back Zac Stacy started for the second consecutive game. Against Jacksonville, Stacy gained 78 yards on 14 carriers. He followed that with 79 yards on 18 carries against Houston.

The balanced attack is a welcome one for the Rams, who missed departed Steven Jackson early this season.

"You've seen the past two weeks just having some balance between the run game and the pass game, I think it's led us to be more efficient," Bradford said. "We've kept defenses off balance with what we're doing. I think it's been really good for all aspects of our game."

Distributing the ball to different receivers shows growth for Bradford, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. Bradford has been sacked just 13 times, none by Houston.

Throwing to multiple receivers also shows the Rams have depth, Schottenheimer said.

"We have a lot of weapons. We use a lot of different personnel groupings. We mix and match the pieces pretty well," Schottenheimer said. "Again, he just shows his ability to go through progressions. He's willing to take what the defense gives him."

The receivers know that. The ball can come at any time to any one depending on what the defense does.

"I think that shows how much Sam knows and that he can read the defense," Austin Pettis said. "I think he is playing really well, absolutely. You wouldn't really know that because of his demeanor."

There are six receivers who have caught 12 or more passes. Twelve different players have caught a pass this season. Six receivers have caught touchdown passes. Tavon Austin leads the receivers with 24 catches. Pettis has 23 receptions and a team-high four touchdowns. Tight end Jared Cook has 22 catches.

"Sam is doing a good job spreading it around," Cook said. "Everybody is getting some balls which is a good thing and making plays when needed."

Notes: RB Stacy (chest) and DE Chris Long (thigh) both returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's workout.

Thursday, 17 October 2013 23:15
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Growing up in Ohio, Maty Mauk stood on the sideline at Kenton High School watching older brother Ben star at quarterback while father Mike coached the Wildcats to consecutive state championships in 2001 and 2002.

Football ran in the family, and Maty jumped right in. At Kenton with his dad still the coach, he broke national prep records in passing yards (18,932), touchdown passes (219), completions (1,353) and total offense (22,681).

The gaudy numbers led to a scholarship to play quarterback at Missouri, where Mauk hoped he would have the opportunity to play in pressure situations. Last Saturday would probably qualify as one, when the redshirt freshman trotted unexpectedly onto the field with a two-point lead in the fourth quarter at Georgia.

Mike Mauk says he wasn't nervous as he watched from the stands of Sanford Stadium with his wife, Gwyn, and nearly 93,000 others. He wasn't surprised, either, when his son and protege led two touchdown drives to stave off the Bulldogs' comeback and win 41-26.

"It's something that ever since he's been a young kid starting to play athletics — you enjoy competition, you enjoy playing against the best," said Mike Mauk, who with his wife travels to all of the Tigers' games. "That's what competitors enjoy doing."

Maty Mauk figures to be involved in more of these situations as he leads No. 14 Missouri (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) into its game Saturday against No. 22 Florida (4-2, 3-1) in place of James Franklin, who sprained his right shoulder at Georgia and is out for at least three weeks. At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Mauk gives up 2 inches and 30 pounds to Franklin, but he likes to run, so he says don't expect anything different in the team's play calling.

"Last year, I kind of struggled," Mauk said. "I didn't know as much. But now I know that playbook like the back of my hand, man."

He'll be surrounded by a physically and statistically healthy offense, one that's producing 45.7 points and 515.7 yards per game. Mauk started practicing with the first string this week after taking "mental reps" with it all season.

Teammates told him to just be confident in himself and to not try to do too much. Even former Missouri quarterback and current Kansas City Chiefs backup Chase Daniel requested Mauk's phone number to pass along some advice.

"He's probably going to make some mistakes like all kids do," coach Gary Pinkel said. "But the big thing is you don't want him to be a robot out there. You want him to do what he does and play quarterback the way he plays quarterback."

Quarterbacks coach Andy Hill said not much fazes Mauk, who has a "cool demeanor" that likely arose out of the trials and successes he went through in high school. Occasionally, however, that attitude can lead him astray.

In just his first few weeks on campus in August 2012, police arrested Mauk on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident on a scooter. Mike Mauk said that incident turned into a growing opportunity for his son, who communicates with his parents almost daily.

Regardless, the elder Mauk says he's proud of Maty and everything he's been able to accomplish since the day he was born. That's why the quarterback's parents still make every effort to watch their son play, and will do so again — this time with older brother Ben — Saturday in Columbia.

"He likes people, enjoys being around people," Mike Mauk said. "And sometimes, maybe he's got his guard down too much. But at the same time, I think he's learned some things and situations that have occurred that have helped make him a better person. That's what most of us go through in our lives."

Thursday, 17 October 2013 23:13
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