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Notes from the cops and courts beat

By By Suzanne Monk
Jan. 20, 2002
It makes me tired to think about it and I'm not sure anyone at the Meridian Police Department has the energy even to roll their eyes but I need to put a check mark on my list beside "police chief vacancy" just to prove I'm still awake.
You've probably heard the "consolidation" rumors.
The first is that the mayor is going to create a combined fire and police department, create a "safety commissioner" position to oversee both and then appoint current Fire Chief Bunky Partridge. As a rumor, I like this one. It does a better job of justifying Partridge's $8,000 pay raise than either explanation offered by city officials.
The second is that the police and sheriff's departments are going to be combined and led by Sheriff Billy Sollie. This one has the virtue of drawing on the truth. Talk of "metro government" is enjoying a revival right now, and the city and county consolidated E-911 dispatching a couple years ago.
Either could be true.
Neither would surprise me.
I don't know how much closer the mayor is to making a decision, but the quality of the rumors is definitely improving.
Comcast development
A Jan. 28 sentencing date has been set in U.S. District Court for Comcast defendants C.D. "Bubba" Newell and Kim Gianakos. Nashville attorney Richard Crane has been successful in reducing Newell's possible sentence from 78-97 months to 63-78 months but he is not yet satisfied.
Crane said there is a "gross disparity" in the possible sentences for Newell and David Van Colvin who will serve somewhere between 33 and 41 months even though he was the acknowledged "man in the middle" of a scheme to defraud Comcast of $2.6 million.
Colvin pleaded guilty in 1999, and agreed to testify against four alleged co-conspirators in exchange for a 25 percent reduction in his sentence. The other mitigating factor is that the U.S. Attorney's Office did not require Colvin to plead guilty to money-laundering, which carries the harshest sentence of any of the charges listed in the Comcast indictments. Newell, on the other hand, was convicted of 12 money-laundering counts.
Quick takes
New partners: I mentioned in my last column that Henry Palmer, Newell's trial attorney, had left the law firm of Palmer, Wright and Williamson. His new law partner is Robbie Jones; the two have opened an office on Poplar Springs Drive.
Retirement: Fellow police officers threw Steve Clark a retirement party Friday in the Municipal Courtroom. The senior police officer was a member of the MPD for more than 27 years.
More delays: Former police officer Rita Jack's public hearing before the Meridian Civil Service Commission, set for Jan. 24, has been delayed at the city's request. Jack was fired amid allegations that she stole money and checks from the MPD's front desk, but a Lauderdale County grand jury declined to indict her.
Some people never learn: After barely escaping a prison sentence last year in Mississippi for Medicaid fraud, Dr. Walter Ocampo Anderson has been indicted in Indiana for the same thing. The Associated Press reports he could face up to 150 years in jail, and a fine of $9.5 million, if convicted this time around.

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