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Police clamp down on headshops, owners

Federal prosecutors say they have arrested and charged 14 business owners for peddling drug paraphernalia at retail stores across the Treasure Valley.

Authorities say they have arrest warrants for two more shop owners targeted in a multiyear investigation by state, local and federal agencies that also focused on the sale of synthetic marijuana products.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson says the 16 retail owners were indicted by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to sell and offering to sell drug paraphernalia.

Idaho banned the sale of synthetic marijuana products – more commonly known as spice or bath salts – in 2011. But varieties of those products can still be found in stores around the state or on the street.

Authorities say the paraphernalia were sold under the guise of tobacco products.

The Associated Press

Union: SW Idaho district owes teachers back pay

Union representatives claim the Caldwell School District is shortchanging teachers and other certified employees.

The Idaho Education Association and the local teachers union say the district in southwestern Idaho is paying its educators for 173 days even though they are scheduled to work 183 days in the current school year.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports state and local union officials filed a grievance earlier this year but it was rejected by the district’s attorney. The claim will now go before the Caldwell school board.

The district’s acting superintendent, Jonathan Cline, declined to comment.

Union officials say they’re prepared to file a wage claim with the state if employees aren’t reimbursed. Teachers agreed to 10 unpaid furlough days last year, but union officials say they negotiated for full pay this year.

The Associated Press

Micron in talks to acquire Japanese chipmaker

Boise chipmaker Micron Technology Inc. is in talks to acquire Elpida Memory Inc., which earlier this year filed for Japan’s largest-ever manufacturing bankruptcy.

Micron said May 10 it made the announcement after the Tokyo District Court allowed Elpida’s trustees to negotiate an agreement with Micron to become Elpida’s sponsor and acquire its entire business in accordance with corporate reorganization proceedings.

Tokyo-based Elpida, the only maker in Japan to specialize in DRAM chips used in mobile phones and computers, reported a debt of 448 billion yen, or $5.5 billion, in its bankruptcy filing in February.

The company had announced it was being reorganized after years of sliding chip prices amid a glut of supply, punishing competition from South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and weaker sales due to last year’s flooding in Thailand that disrupted production.

Elpida released a statement also confirming talks with Micron were under way.

Elpida had attracted the interest of other companies, including South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc., which had submitted an initial bid for the world’s third-largest memory chipmaker in April. In early May, SK Hynix said it was giving up its bid.

The Associated Press

Idaho bodybuilding company reaches deal with prosecutors

Federal prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with a Meridian online fitness supplement company and its former president on charges the company sold misbranded drugs, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The plea agreements with and its former president Jeremy DeLuca are still subject to a judge’s approval. A hearing has been scheduled for May 24 in U.S. District Court.

The company has agreed to pay a $7 million fine, while DeLuca has agreed to pay a $600,000 penalty, said U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson in a statement. Prosecutors agreed not to seek prison time for DeLuca, under the settlement announced May 9.

DeLuca and the company were charged with misdemeanors for violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Investigators say the company sold products listed as dietary supplements that were actually classified as drugs by the Food and Drug Administration. was started in the mid-1990s shortly after DeLuca’s brother, company CEO Ryan DeLuca, purchased the website domain. Liberty Media, the Colorado-based owner of the QVC home-shopping cable network, purchased an 83 percent stake in the bodybuilding company in 2008.

The business is now part of Liberty Interactive.

The Associated Press

Judge asks if Tamarack suitor can pay for lawyer

A federal judge is questioning whether an indicted Tamarack Resort suitor should start paying for his own lawyer, rather than having taxpayers pick up the tab.

Matthew Hutcheson faces 31 criminal counts, including allegations he bilked retirement funds of $5 million.

Now, U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale wants to know whether Hutcheson’s is so financially bereft that the public must pay for his attorney.

No date has been set for the hearing.

Also at the hearing, Dale wants to determine whether Hutcheson’s attorney, Dennis Charney, has a conflict in the case.

That’s because Charney represents Hutcheson in a separate state court foreclosure proceeding involving Tamarack’s Osprey Meadows golf course.

Dale is concerned that Charney may not be able to provide unbiased defense counsel in federal court, due to his dual duties.

The Associated Press 

Atomic City, Idaho without water after pumps break

Residents of the small southeastern Idaho town of Atomic City have been without running water for nearly a week after pumps at the city’s two wells failed.

City Councilman Don Sortor says the first pump failed on April 11 and a backup pump failed May 3.

The company that put in the wells said they were no longer under warranty, but council members argued they failed due to properly install them.

Workers with the installation company began working on one pump May 8. Councilman Dave Sonnenberg says the city hired another company to fix the second pump, and a worker said the wiring was not done properly.

Residents of the community of about 25 have been filing jugs and bottles from a water truck for drinking, cooking and hygiene.

The Associated Press

Judge gives Calif. man 5 years for bank fraud

A California man has been ordered to spend five years in an Idaho prison and pay nearly $190,000 in restitution for impersonating others and withdrawing funds from bank accounts.

Twenty-four-year-old Justine Lingatong must also serve five years of supervised release after his prison term expires.

Lingatong pleaded guilty in January to the crimes. Under the plea agreement, he admitted to going into Treasure Valley banks seven different times, presenting false identification and taking out cash from accounts belonging to the people he was impersonating.

He carried out the scheme with two other women, and investigators say the trio hit banks in Arizona and Utah. His female accomplices are already serving time in prison — one for 4 years and the other for 44 months.

The Associated Press


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