State and local briefly

Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2000

Search for missing teen cut back

JUNEAU - Search efforts for the body of 16-year-old Travis Mason were scaled down to one Alaska State Trooper on Friday.

Sgt. Will Ellis of the Juneau trooper detachment used a skiff to make a circumnavigation of Spuhn Island and to survey the shoreline of Mendenhall Peninsula on Friday, said Greg Wilkinson, trooper spokesman in Anchorage.

The Juneau detachment could not be reached Saturday.

Mason fell off a personal watercraft just before midnight on April 21 near Spuhn Island and Smugglers Cove. The U.S. Coast Guard, SEADOGS, Juneau police and the National Guard searched for him from April 22 to 24. A 5-mile by 3-mile search area was gradually narrowed down to an area off Spuhn Island where trained dogs had alerted to human scent.

House OKs spill bill

JUNEAU - - A watered-down version of a bill aimed at bringing cruise ships and other large vessels under the state's oil-spill response laws was approved by the House on Saturday.

Senate President Drue Pearce's proposal also covers the Alaska Railroad.

The version that passed the Senate would have required the railroad and owners of large non-tanker vessels to provide the state Department of Environmental Conservation with a contingency plan to clean up 15 percent of their oil-carrying capacity within 48 hours of a spill.

The measure ran aground in the House, where Rep. Ramona Barnes held it in her committee over concerns that such planning would drive up shipping costs for Alaska fish, timber and minerals.

That prompted Pearce to accuse the cruise and shipping industries of trying to kill the bill. Barnes released it after the planning requirement was stripped out, along with a provision giving the department the power to board and inspect ships for compliance.

``I'm still disappointed that the industry chose to lock arms and work to emasculate the bill,'' said Pearce, an Anchorage Republican.

Under the House version, owners would still have to prove they could take financial responsibility for cleaning up a spill.

``I believe that this bill has turned out to be balanced and fair,'' said Rep. Bill Hudson, a Juneau Republican.

Experimental troll openings begin

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced additional information on openings for the spring commercial experimental and terminal hatchery troll fisheries.

Openings in Chatham Strait and Point Sophia started Saturday and will run through May 5.

There will openings Monday through Tuesday for Little Port Walter, Kingsmill Point, Tebenkof Bay, North Sumner Strait, South Sumner Strait, Snow Passage, South Passage, Homeshore, Middle Island and Salisbury Sound.

Stevens doubtful about missile system development

FAIRBANKS - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens isn't holding out much hope that the United States will develop a national missile defense system by 2005.

Virtually dooming the $30 billion system, which if approved would likely be built in Alaska, is the Clinton administration's desire to smooth out treaty disagreements with Russia, Stevens said last week.

But missile defense system opponents say technical problems remain the most likely reasons for any delays. They believe the system shouldn't be postponed, but rather scrapped.

``To blame Clinton is like blaming the weather forecasters for bad weather,'' said John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World, a pro-nuclear arms control organization.

Stevens, in a briefing with Alaska press Thursday, said that even if the administration persuades Russia to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, it would be difficult to approve the changes in the time remaining in this congressional session.

Man arrested in Anchorage for Lower 48 murder

DEADWOOD, S.D. - A man wanted for a March murder in South Dakota has been arrested in Anchorage.

Briley Piper, 20, was taken into custody Friday, according to Lawrence County Sheriff Rick Mowell.

Piper is one of three suspects in the slaying of a 19-year-old man in Spearfish, S.D.

An autopsy determined that Chester Allan Poage died of a beating from a blunt instrument or from drowning in a stream near where his body was found.

Piper and Elijah Page, 18, face charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping. Page was arrested Friday in Texas, Mowell said.

Darrell Hoadley, 20, was arrested earlier in the week in South Dakota. He has been charged with murder.

Poage was killed on or around March 14, Mowell said.

If convicted of first-degree murder, the suspects could face the death penalty.

Foot doctor sentenced for bilking patients

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage podiatrist was sentenced Friday to more than five years in federal prison for bilking his patients and insurance companies.

U.S. District Judge James Singleton ordered Steven Kaniadakis to begin serving his time immediately, despite his plans to appeal.

Kaniadakis was convicted last year of 58 counts of mail and billing fraud.

Kaniadakis told the jury that he did nothing wrong, and that his billing problems were honest differences of opinions that the insurance companies should have brought to his attention.

When all the arguing was done, Singleton said he had no doubt the jury made the right decision, that Kaniadakis ``set out on an intentional course of conduct intended to cheat both his patients and the insurance carriers.''

The judge also said Kaniadakis had lied on the witness stand, and for that reason, he would receive a longer sentence.

Kaniadakis was also ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be decided later.

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