Oklahoma Archives:

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (BNO NEWS) — Police in Oklahoma City have arrested a 31-year-old woman on child neglect charges after a beaten and shockingly malnourished girl was found in a closet, officials said on Wednesday.

A police report released on Wednesday said officers responded to the home of Asusena Marie Gonzales on Monday after an investigation by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) which found that a 5-year-old girl in her care was made to stay in a closet and was given a cup to urinate and defecate in. The girl was also said to have been beaten and was extremely malnourished.

Responding officers described the girl as appearing ‘very malnourished and emaciated.’ “[The victim's] arms and legs were very thin and you could see the bones at her joints. She had very little muscle tissue on her bones,” one of the officers wrote in a report.

Police described Gonzales’ house as in relatively good order and five other young children at the home appeared to be healthy. “[The DHS worker] told me that [the victim] was the target of abuse because she allegedly looked the most like her father and [Gonzales] did not like the father,” the police report said. The closet in which the victim was forced to stay smelled like urine and feces.

Officers at the scene found that Gonzales had seven open city warrants for offenses such as disorderly conduct and failure to show insurance. She was then arrested and later charged with child neglect.

The victim was transported to an area hospital where she was found to weigh only 19.8 pounds (8.9 kilograms). “I noticed she had a couple of small cuts on her arms that had dried blood attached to them. When I spoke with her, she did not focus on my face and uttered words I could not comprehend,” the officer’s report said.

Gonzales told police that she had not taken the victim to a doctor since she was 4 years old and mentioned that the girl was born premature and weighed only four pounds (1.8 kilogram) when she was born. Gonzales remains in jail.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday remembered the more than 160 victims of the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Tuesday marked the 16th anniversary of the bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people and injuring more than 680 others.

“Sixteen years ago today, America witnessed a horrific attack in Oklahoma City, killing more than 160 men, women and children, and wounding hundreds of others,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families and friends who lost a loved one and suffered through this tragic event.”

Obama said the United States should take a moment to “recognize the courage and spirit” of first responders who rushed to the scene of the attack, as well as the “resilience and toughness” of the American people. “Our nation’s resolve to fight terror and combat violent extremism, in all its forms, will not waver,” he added.

The attack in Oklahoma City was the deadliest act of terrorism in the United States until the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (BNO NEWS) — Former Oklahoma Senate President Pro Term Mike Morgan on Thursday was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, extortion and bribery, prosecutors informed.

Morgan, 56, of Stillwater, Oklahoma was charged along attorney Martin Stringer, 70, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and lobbyist William Andrew Skeith, 52, of Edmond, Oklahoma.

The 63-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, extortion, bribery, and mail fraud. According to it, the individuals had businesses pay Senator Morgan for favorable treatment in the legislature and with state officials, disguised as fees for Morgan’s services as an attorney.

“It is unfortunate when some politicians choose to betray the trust of the very people who expect and deserve their elected officials to represent the constituents’ best interest and not the politicians’ self-serving financial interest,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Finch.

One scheme involved a business, identified as Company A, which was one of Stringer’s clients. In 2005, this business was trying to get state and local approval for a new landfill and when faced with opposition placed Senator Morgan on a legal retainer of a flat $50,000 per year.

In exchange, Morgan used his position as an elected official to keep harmful legislation from passing and to push for bills that would cut back the power of county commissioners to regulate landfills. Company A paid Senator Morgan $141,664.52 from 2005 until 2008, when he left the Senate.

Starting at the end of 2004, another business (Company B) began paying Senator Morgan at a rate of $5,000 per month as the business was hoping to build a power plant in northeastern Oklahoma with the Grand River Dam Authority.

By 2008, Company B had paid $250,000 supposedly for serving as one of its attorneys. However, Morgan was allegedly taking money in exchange for official acts and change state law to benefit the business.

The other scheme involved twelve $1,000 bribe payments made in 2006 and 2007 from a business (Company C) that owned assisted-living centers to Morgan. The Oklahoma Department of Health was attempting to impose regulations on assisted-living facilities which put Company B in difficulties.

According to the indictment, in exchange for payments disguised as legal fees, Senator Morgan authored Senate Bill 738, which became law in 2007 and helped Company C by lifting some of its regulatory burdens.

On each of the conspiracy, extortion, and wire fraud counts, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Morgan faces a sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from each of the defendants in the amount of the proceeds of the crimes.

“The crimes charged in this indictment go to the heart of our republic and how our system of government operates,” said U.S. Attorney Coats. “When elected officials decide public policy based on secret payments, they abandon this country’s core principle that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday released federal aid for recovery efforts in Oklahoma by declaring an emergency in the region, as the week’s winter storm continues to affect several parts of the country.

With the declaration, the President authorized the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the winter storm.

FEMA will be providing appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 77 counties in the State.

Furthermore, the agency is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.

Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (BNO NEWS) — A moderate earthquake shook central Oklahoma on early Wednesday morning, seismologists and residents said, but no serious damage or casualties were immediately reported.

The 4.3 to 5.1-magnitude earthquake at 9.06 a.m. CDT (1406 GMT) was centered approximately 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Norman, a city in Cleveland County, or 20 miles (35 kilometers) south-southeast of Oklahoma City. It struck about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) deep, making it a very shallow earthquake, according to seismologists.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the strength of the earthquake at 4.3 on the Richter scale, while the Oklahoma Geological Survey measured it as much stronger 5.1-magnitude earthquake.

The USGS estimated that approximately 99,000 people may have perceived moderate earthquake shaking, which could potentially result in light damage. Up to 2 million others may have felt weak to light shaking.

Some minor damage was reported by local media, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties. “There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage,” the USGS said.

Wednesday’s earthquake was unusually strong for the region, which is regularly rattled by minor earthquakes. According to the USGS, most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes from time to time.

Here and there earthquakes are more numerous, for example in the New Madrid seismic zone centered on southeastern Missouri, in the Charlevoix-Kamouraska seismic zone of eastern Quebec, in New England, in the New York – Philadelphia – Wilmington urban corridor, and elsewhere. However, most of the enormous region from the Rockies to the Atlantic can go years without an earthquake large enough to be felt, and several U.S. states have never reported a damaging earthquake. The earthquakes that do occur strike anywhere at irregular intervals.

Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 60 miles (100 kilometers) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles (500 kilometers) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 25 miles (40 kilometers), the USGS said.

This year already marks as a very active year for earthquakes in Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, the agency has recorded more than 200 earthquakes in Oklahoma, including nearly 60 which have been felt.

On April 9, 1952, a moderate 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck near El Reno in Oklahoma and caused moderate damage in El Reno, Oklahoma City, and Ponca City. Damage included toppled chimneys and smokestacks, cracked and loosened bricks on buildings, and broken windows and dishes.

One crack in the State Capitol at Oklahoma City was 15 meters (16 yards) long while slight damage was reported from many other towns in Oklahoma and from some towns in Kansas and Texas. The earthquake was caused by slippage along the Nemaha fault and was the largest earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma. It was felt over most of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas.

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LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — The Boeing Company on Monday announced it will relocate the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and B-1 Program from Long Beach to Oklahoma City.

In the first quarter of 2011, Boeing will begin moving the C-130 AMP, concluding by the end of 2012 with the move of the B-1 Program.

C-130 AMP brings commonality to the C-130 fleet by offering flexibility in assigning aircrew, regardless of the model design type, and reducing aircraft operating costs while addressing obsolescence and providing for future capability growth. The program recently was approved by the Air Force for low-rate initial production.

The Boeing B-1 Program is modernizing the B-1 Lancer bomber to further enhance its conventional munitions capability. Multiple upgrades are being tested this year to improve the bomber’s capabilities.

Both programs, which now employ approximately 800 people in Southern California, are part of the Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades (MM&U) division of the Global Services & Support business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

About 550 positions will be relocated to Oklahoma City, and the remaining positions will be reduced from the programs over the next two years as contracts are fulfilled.

“Making a decision like this is never easy, but as we reviewed our anticipated operating costs for the next several years, it became clear that Boeing needs to take major actions on these programs in order to remain affordable for our customers,” MM&U Vice President and General Manager Mark Bass said.

“We remain committed to maintaining the excellent record of performance that our employees deliver for our U.S. Air Force B-1 and C-130 AMP customers during this transition.”

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OKLAHOMA CITY (BNO NEWS) — At least two people were killed on Thursday night after a medical helicopter crashed in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, officials said.

The Eagle Med helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350, crashed at about 7:45 p.m. local time, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford. He said the helicopter was on its way from Integris Medical Center in Oklahoma City to pick up a patient.

“Another helicopter was dispatched to pick up somebody involved in the crash,” Lunsford added.

Further details were not immediately available.

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YUKON, OKLAHOMA (BNO NEWS) — A Yukon, Oklahoma man has been arrested for stealing 55 cents from a parked car at an apartment complex, police said on Thursday.

A police spokeswoman said Tyler Walker Challis was arrested after a woman saw Challis get into her car when she was leaving her apartment. When the woman approached the car, he told her that he was returning some CDs he had borrowed from a friend.

Challis fled the scene but was later identified by witnesses. Police said he lived in the same apartment complex as his victim.

When police arrested Challis, he told them he was returning CDs he had borrowed from a friend, but he subsequently admitted to taking two quarters and a nickel from the center console of the car.

Challis was booked into the Yukon city jail where he now faces a second-degree burglary charge.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (BNO NEWS) – A series of thunderstorms struck Oklahoma City on early Monday causing floods and evacuations in some neighborhoods, CNN reported.

More thunderstorms are heading towards the metropolitan area. Citizens are being evacuated as they are suffering from power outages in the area too. The National Weather Service reported that almost 10 inches of rain fell between Monday’s 2 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The National Weather Service also indicated that one or two inches of rain will likely fall on Monday night.

There are many rescue crews working in the area as many citizens were trapped inside their cars while many other homes were reported damaged. Portions of Interstate 35, Interstate 40 and Interstate 44 were flooded and subsequently closed.

The flooding has been labeled by local authorities as the worst in the last two decades at least. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported and approximately 30 people have been rescued from stranded vehicles, homes or businesses.

More information will be available soon as rescuing efforts are still ongoing.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (BNO NEWS) – A Haslet, Texas men was sentenced on Monday to over two years of imprisonment for filing a false personal income tax return, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

Beginning in 2001, Michael Lee Pena was employed at Pace Butler Corporation, an Edmond company in the business of buying and selling used cellular phones, which also collected old cellphones for fundraisers.

In 2004, while he was still employed at Pace Butler, he began operating a similar business called A-1 Transport Brokers. Pena admitted that he used A-1 Transport Brokers to sell cell phones that belonged to Pace Butler without any king of authorization from 2006 until 2008.

Pena failed to report his income from the sale of the stolen merchandise to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on his federal income tax return for 2007. His criminal conduct caused the IRS a loss of approximately $62,430, and a loss of nearly half a million to Pace Butler.

Pena pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false income tax return and was sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the IRS and to Pace Butler; including $322,881 for the stolen telephones and $50,000 to Pace Butler’s insurance carrier.

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