Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, February 26, 2007

Rapper sentenced for dealing cocaine, possessing weapons

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ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man who aspired to make it big as a rapper has been sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison for dealing cocaine.

Gerald Drew, 25, the front man of the rap group AK49rz, was arrested and charged with distributing cocaine and crack cocaine. He also was charged with possessing heavy-duty weapons in his South Anchorage home that he turned "into a drug and weapons den," federal prosecutors said in court papers.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline on Thursday sentenced Drew to 130 months in prison.

Charged in the same case was Drew's girlfriend, Juanita Harris. Like Drew, she agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors. She will be sentenced in March.

BP settles lawsuits from refinery blast that injured 170

HOUSTON - BP is settling a pair of court cases stemming from a deadly explosion at its Texas City oil refinery two years ago, a lawyer for the two workers said Friday.

The settlement was announced by Brent Coon, lawyer for two contract workers, Clarence Kindard and E.J. Godeaux, who were among more than 170 people injured in the March 2005 blast, which killed 15 others.

No terms were released. BP didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jury selection in the workers' civil lawsuits had been set for next week in a state district court in Galveston. They would have been the first cases connected to the blast to go to trial.

The company has said it's settled the majority of the more than 1,000 claims filed against it since the blast.

Palmer police seize the computer of man using free wireless

ANCHORAGE - A police officer seized the laptop computer of a man using the Palmer Library's wireless Internet connection outside the building after the library had closed.

Brian Tanner, 21, was sitting in his car Feb. 17 outside the Palmer Library playing online games. A police officer asked what he was doing, learned he was using the library's wireless Internet connection and told him to leave.

A day later, police spotted him there again.

"It was kind of like, 'Well gee whiz, come on,"' police Lt. Tom Remaley said.

The officer confiscated Tanner's laptop to inspect what he may have been downloading, Remaley said.

Alaska State Troopers had chased Tanner off a few times at other locations, Remaley said.

Tanner said he used to park in his neighborhood and hop on unsecured wireless networks, but troopers told him to park in a public place. He found the network at the library, which was unprotected by a password.

Tanner said he was upset that he has not gotten his computer back yet.

"They said I'd be getting the laptop back tomorrow," he said Thursday.

But the library director is out of town, so, "I'm going to be waiting another week."

Jeanne Novosad, the library system manager, said the wireless connection is normally shut off when the library is closed. The library was waiting for a technician to install a timer and the connection was left on for several days, she said.

Tanner said he does not think the case will go to court. Remaley said he's not sure either. He has to talk to library officials, find out what their rules are, and make a determination.

He has not seen a lot of these cases, but he doesn't think the case against Tanner is going away.

"In this particular case you know he's feeding off something that we know the city of Palmer pays for and there are requirements to use it," Remaley said.

Either way, Tanner's Internet usage has been curtailed. He's got a home computer, but his parents do not let him on the Web after 9 p.m.

He's a moderator on an online gaming site,, where he plays a game similar to the board game Risk.

"It's pretty addicting," he said.

Hydroelectric project in Hatcher Pass could provide new power

WASILLA - An Anchorage engineering firm wants to build a small, run-of-the-river hydroelectric project on Fishhook Creek, in a ravine below the road to Hatcher Pass.

The project could create enough electricity to power at least 600 homes, said project manager Joel Groves. It will do so using relatively "clean" power even as several local entities look to coal to replace Southcentral's dwindling natural gas reserves.

Fishhook Renewable Energy LLC is the project developer, a corporation created by a group of engineers affiliated with Polarconsult Alaska Inc., an Anchorage engineering consultant.

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