Iowa News

December sentencing set for ex-Iowa trooper in drugs case
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A December sentencing is scheduled for a former Iowa State Patrol supervisor who admitted stealing prescription painkillers seized during criminal investigations. Court records say 32-year-old Michael Haugen has filed written pleas of guilty to misdemeanor charges of theft and tampering with records. His sentencing is set for Dec. 19. The records say Haugen has acknowledged removing pills from evidence bags about 18 times in up to eight different cases between late 2014 and April. An investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation found that he stole roughly 150 pills. Haugen acknowledged that he developed an addiction to painkillers while battling intestinal problems.

Ex-teacher facing more serious charge in student sex case
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Prosecutors have upgraded the charge against a former substitute teacher who went on television and discussed having sexual contact with a Cedar Rapids student. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says Mary Haglin's charge of sexual exploitation has been upgraded to a felony count from the lower level of serious misdemeanor. A court document says that in the interviews Haglin "admitted engaging in a pattern or practice of sexual conduct with a student while employed as a teacher at Washington High School, which supports the more serious felony offense." Haglin already has pleaded not guilty to the original charge. Authorities say she had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy who attended Washington High School. Her trial is set to begin Nov. 14.

Des Moines hospital says tech watered down pain meds
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines hospital says it's taking action after learning of accusations that a former pharmacy technician there watered down powerful pain prescriptions of hospital patients. Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines says the pharmacy tech is no longer employed there. Des Moines television station KCCI reports that from late August to early October, more than 730 patients were given watered-down drugs. In some cases, patients are believed to have received little more than saline solution. The hospital says the tech had access to portable medication carts where the powerful opioid fentanyl was stored. Officials believe he used a syringe to replace the drug with saline. The hospital says no charges have yet been filed but are expected.

Iowa to get federal grant for unemployment benefits program
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa department that processes unemployment checks will receive a $500,000 grant from the federal government to improve fraud detection and to modernize outdated computer systems. The U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday it is distributing more than $30 million in grants to 39 state agencies including Iowa. Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Portia Wu says the goal is to ensure system integrity and to improve efficiency. The money can be used by states to develop strategies to prevent and detect improper payments to individuals that continue to claim benefits after returning to work and to improve accessibility to the program. In addition, Iowa is in a three-state consortium with Idaho and Vermont that will receive $14.5 million for projects designed to improve overall quality, performance and integrity.

Church drops lawsuit on transgender bathroom issue
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa church is dropping its lawsuit against the state and the city of Des Moines over an antidiscrimination law that church officials believed could force them to abide by transgender bathroom rules. The Fort Des Moines Church of Christ filed a voluntarily dismissal Wednesday. The church sought an injunction to keep the city and state from applying the antidiscrimination law to churches, saying it violated free exercise of religious rights. The law prohibits discrimination in use of public facilities based on sexual orientation and gender identity. U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose denied the injunction Oct. 14 saying it's uncertain whether the law would be applied to the church. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission says it's never enforced the law against churches and made it clear churches are generally exempt.

U. Iowa lawsuit alleges defective work on iconic Old Capitol
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa is suing a contractor that it blames for defective construction work that damaged the historic Old Capitol building. UI hired Knutson Construction to restore and improve the campus icon after a 2001 fire destroyed parts of the building. The project involved reconstructing the famous gold dome, cupola and tower and replacing the roof. Knutson received $1.63 million for the work, which was completed in 2004. In a lawsuit this month, the university says it discovered construction deficiencies in 2011 that Knutson has since refused to correct. It says water leaks through the roof and the wood siding and trim deteriorated. Knutson said Wednesday it's cooperated with UI to investigate the defects and propose repairs, saying it looks forward to "getting this matter resolved fairly and promptly."

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