Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2005

Man sentenced to 12 years for sex crimes

JUNEAU - A man who agreed to plead guilty to sex crimes dating to 1988 with women and girls as young as 10 has been sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.

Johnny S. Wilson III, 49, agreed in December to plead guilty to three counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one count of second-degree sexual assault and one count of second-degree attempted sexual assault. All of the charges were listed as domestic-violence offenses.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins suspended eight years of the 20-year prison sentence terms that attorneys said they agreed to during Wilson's December plea hearing.

According to court records, Wilson was accused of attempting to sexually assault a 39-year-old woman in March 2004. By the end of May, Wilson was indicted in two cases on charges of first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, second-degree attempted sexual assault, first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Collins also placed Wilson on probation for 10 years and noted that the law requires Wilson to maintain registration as a sex offender for life.

Police arrest man on sexual abuse charge

JUNEAU - Police arrested a man Wednesday morning in the Mendenhall Valley on a warrant charging him with first-degree sexual abuse of a minor more than two years ago.

Richard C. Lundy Jr., 47, was indicted by a grand jury Friday, charging him with engaging in sexual penetration with a child who was 11 at the time. The indictment alleged the crime occurred in August or September 2002.

Police reported Lundy was arrested in the 8600 block of Hayes Way. He was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center where bail was set at $20,000. In addition to posting bail, Lundy's release would require a third-party custodian.

Three sisters die in Lake Clark plane crash

ANCHORAGE - Three young sisters died after their family's plane went down in a southern Alaska lake, state troopers said.

The girls, who lived in the nearby community of Port Alsworth, were traveling in a Cessna 206 with their parents, Jeremy Davis, 38, and Michelle Davis, 31.

The family was returning from Anchorage 170 miles to the northeast when the plane either crashed or made a hard landing on Lake Clark, said Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers.

The parents managed to climb out of the plane, which slipped through the thin ice into the deep water a mile offshore of the lake, Wilkinson said.

The girls never made it out and are presumed dead. They were identified as Samantha, 9, Jesse, 7, and Katie, 6.

The family left Anchorage Wednesday morning with another Port Alsworth resident who was flying his own plane, Wilkinson said.

The Davises were expected back at 11:45 a.m., Wilkinson said. When they failed to show up, their friend called the Alaska Air National Guard, which launched an air search.

Weather in the area had worsened by noon, when falling snow cut visibility to a half mile, said Ed Wentworth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service aviation unit. Three hours earlier, there was a five-mile visibility.

"A lot of crashes in Alaska are caused when weather conditions deteriorate fast," Wentworth said.

A private pilot flying over the area spotted debris from the wreckage.

Athabascans consider forming a borough

FAIRBANKS - Athabascan leaders in the Yukon Flats are considering whether to form a borough.

The idea is in response to the possibility the region may be annexed to the North Slope Borough or the Fairbanks North Star Borough, particularly in light of recent talks about oil and gas exploration there.

A meeting was called recently in Fort Yukon to begin public discussion on forming a borough, despite a history of opposition to the idea.

"In order to stop any annexation, we've got to come together and discuss the issue," said Gary Lawrence, executive director of Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in tribal government.

The borough would be called the Yukon Flats Borough and would cover nearly 55,000 square miles, bordering the North Slope Borough to the north and the Fairbanks borough to the south, Lawrence said.

A new government study shows that the Yukon Flats could hold an estimated 5.5 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. The amount is nearly as much as in Cook Inlet gas fields.

Doyon Ltd., the area's Alaska Native regional corporation, is proposing to swap some of its land for land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so the corporation can explore for oil and gas. The area is near Birch Creek, a village south of the Yukon River.

Red Dog mine settles with the federal EPA

ANCHORAGE - The operator of the Red Dog lead and zinc mine has agreed to pay $33,000 in civil penalties to settle a complaint by the federal Environmental Protection Agency alleging ore was discharged into Alaska's northwest coast in 2002.

The EPA's complaint against mine operator Teck Cominco Alaska Inc. followed an investigation launched when a mine worker reported that ore was pushed by winds off a conveyor belt into the Chukchi Sea. Red Dog, the world's largest zinc mine, is located about 90 miles north of Kotzebue.

"Sometimes our best leads come from people in the community who observe activities that don't look right," said Kim Ogle, an EPA water compliance manager in Seattle.

The agreement was announced Wednesday.

Between mine records and a videotape supplied by the worker, EPA investigators found three instances of ore discharge in August 2003. Teck Cominco's wastewater discharge permit doesn't cover ore falling from the conveyor belt.

Jim Kulas, the mine's environmental supervisor, said Teck Cominco readily acknowledged that "fugitive dust" was swept into the ocean as the finely ground ore was being loaded from the dock to barges in extremely windy conditions. The worker who made the video, in fact, turned the tape over to company officials, who reported the incident to the EPA and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Kulas said.

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