Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2008

Anchorage police seek assistant principal on drug charge

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police said a 43-year-old assistant middle school principal suspected of using drugs on school grounds is wanted on a felony drug charge.

Police on Wednesday night were seeking Mario A. Toro Jr., an educator at Gruening Middle School.

A school district official reported seeing Toro acting erratically during a training session Tuesday.

Witnesses told police Toro made repeated trips to his car and had a white powdery substance on his nose.

Police spokesman Paul Honeman said officers searched Toro's car and found a bag that field-tested positive for a narcotic.

School district officials say Toro has been placed on administrative leave.

Alaska makes list of worst states foranimal cruelty laws

ANCHORAGE - Alaska has made The Humane Society's top-seven states for the weakest laws against animal cruelty.

The animal welfare organization issued its list Thursday. It ranked the seven from the best to the worst.

Alaska ranked first for having the strongest penalties for animal cruelty among the seven worst states. The group says animal cruelty in Alaska carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Utah and Mississippi also made the list.

Mississippi had the weakest animal cruelty laws with penalties capped at six months and $1,000.

The group says Alaska also is one of the states that has no felony animal cruelty provisions.

Mike Maad faces legal trouble again

ANCHORAGE - Nezar "Mike" Maad is in legal trouble again.

Maad, 48, is facing new federal charges in what prosecutors call a scheme to defraud the state of Alaska over printing contracts. A federal grand jury indicted Maad on Wednesday, along with Imad Salim Hereimi, 48, on 22 counts of mail fraud.

An arrest warrant for Maad was issued Monday after he failed to appear for a hearing in his old criminal case. He is on federal probation for lying to the government to obtain a bank loan. He is believed to be in Syria. Earlier this month, he traveled to Syria to visit his ailing mother but was supposed to be back by Sunday.

Maad has traveled to Syria before during his probation and always returned. This time prosecutors objected because Maad was aware of the new investigation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta Randall.

Prosecutors say Hereimi started a printing company called Horizon Graphics. It had no printing equipment and operated out of Golden Donuts. Maad arranged print jobs with other printers for the Department of Health and Social Services and paid for them with cash or Horizon Graphics credit cards, the indictment says.

The defendants then created inflated invoices, often double the original value, from Horizon to the state for the same work, prosecutors say.

Five Alaskans indicted on charges of marijuana distribution

ANCHORAGE - Five Alaskans and a Canadian have been indicted on charges of bringing marijuana into the state from Canada.

Federal prosecutors say David Knutson of Vancouver, British Columbia, regularly supplied 31-year-old Patrick McIlvain and other co-conspirators with marijuana.

Amounts, according to prosecutors, ranged from 80 to 150 pounds. Prosecutors say the drug was smuggled into Alaska inside snowmachines and in hidden compartments in inflatable boats and trailers.

The indictment also names 32-year-old Rachel Ross, 46-year-old Donald Knutson and 39-year-old James Adams, the second.

Prosecutors also are seeking the forfeiture of a Wasilla home and other personal property believed purchased with the proceeds from drug money.

Convicted killer maintains innocence in old homicide

ANCHORAGE - A man convicted of pulling the trigger in a 1996 murder centered around a former Anchorage stripper is scheduled for sentencing Friday.

John Carlin said he wants to take the stand at his sentencing before Superior Court Judge Philip Volland to tell the courtroom that the victim, Kent Leppink, have have planned his own death, the Anchorage Daily News reported in Thursday editions. Carlin, who did not testify during his trial last year, is appealing his conviction on first-degree murder.

Prosecutors are seeking a 99-year sentence.

Carlin, 50, said he also plans to address evidence that he washed the gun after the killing.

"The story that the prosecution has been telling about this is based on a fictitious scenario dreamed up by (the two original investigators)," he said from the Anchorage jail this week. "It's not true."

Leppink, a 36-year-old commercial fisherman, and Carlin shared an affection for Mechele Linehan. According to prosecutors, Carlin shot Leppink in cahoots with Linehan, then 23, so that she would benefit from a $1 million life insurance policy that she erroneously thought was in her name.

Fairbanks experiences heaviest snowfall in several years

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks is supposed to experience dry cold, but that wasn't happening Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service said Interior Alaska's largest city is experiencing its heaviest snowfall in several years.

Downtown Fairbanks had received nearly eight inches of snow by 4 a.m. and seven inches had fallen at Fairbanks International Airport and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The weather service said 10 more inches were possibly on the way.

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