September 2, 2014

Former Mamtek CEO pleads guilty to fraud, theft for sweetener plant scam

The former CEO of Mamtek, Bruce Cole, will serve between five and seven years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts for convincing investors to purchase $39-million in bonds for a sweetener factory in Moberly that was never completed.

Bruce Cole's booking photo from his arrest on 09/18/2012.

Bruce Cole’s booking photo from his arrest on 09/18/2012.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Cole pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of securities fraud and one count of theft. He avoids the trial that was set to begin in December. He will be sentenced November 3.

With the Mamtek project, Cole promised to bring up to 600 jobs to Moberly. City officials agreed to issue $39-million in bonds and the state promised more than $17-million in tax credits and other incentives. Governor Jay Nixon and former governor Bob Holden, now chairman of the Midwest U.S.-China Association, appeared in Moberly when the project was announced.

Cole claimed Mamtek already had a factory in China, as well as private capital of $8-million and the ability to have the factory in production within six months. It also claimed to have a patented process for making sucralose.

Mamtek actually owned no patents and owned interest in a factory in China that never produced sucralose on a commercial scale.

Construction on the factory halted in August, 2011 when the bond funds ran out. Mamtek went into bankruptcy in December 2011.

Sen. McCaskill: body cams inevitable (AUDIO)

Senator McCaskill starts hearings on the militarization of police departments a week from today.

One issue she expects the committee to discuss is whether federal law should require all police officers to wear body cams.

Use of body cams by police departments has gained momentum since the Michael Brown shooting three weeks ago in Ferguson. The officer involved ws not wearing a body cam nor did his car have a dash cam. Senator McCaskill says it’s only a matter of time before all officers have body cams, though. She says it hasn’t been that long ago that the dash cams began to proliferate in police cars. She recalls what she calls a “brutal” hit and run case involving a Highway Patrolman recorded by a dash cam in the trooper’s car. She says the recording was instrumental in catching the motorist who hit the trooper.
McCaskill thinks the cams would help curtail racial profiling, an issue that emerged in the Ferguson.
She also thinks the use of the cams would avoid a lot of misinformation and avoid mob mentalities taking over in certain situations. McCaskill says she’d like to see uniform use of the cameras sooner rather than later.
She expects body cams to be only one of a series of issued the committee will hear about.
AUDIO: McCaskill interview 3;18


Man charged in shooting death of central Missouri boy, 6

A former Columbia man has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the death of a six-year-old Fulton boy.

Scottie Willet

Scottie Willet

27-year-old Scottie Willet is being held on $1 million bond in Callaway County. Police say he admitted to shooting the six-year-old boy with a handgun.

In a separate filing Willet is also charged with stealing a firearm.

The boy had been reported missing early this morning from a Callaway County home. His body was later found hidden inside the residence with multiple gunshot wounds.

Willet was found about two hours later in a Sedalia trailer park and was placed under arrest for failing to appear in court for a littering charge.  On court documents he has a Sedalia address.

Two who posed with corpse arrested after photos posted to Facebook

Two southwest Missouri residents have now been arrested for taking pictures with a corpse – pictures that were later posted to Facebook.

Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland says 24-year-old Chelsie Berry of Carl Junction and 28-year-old Jared Prier of Joplin are charged with abandonment of a corpse. Copeland tells KZRG he made the arrests after getting a tip that the pair were seen in the pictures posing with the body of 30-year-old Dennis Meyer of Joplin, which was found on a rural driveway last week.

The Joplin Globe reports Copeland believes the three had been partying together last week and that Meyer had overdosed and died. He says Berry told authorities she knew Meyer was dead when the photos were taken and the body abandoned.

Authorities don’t yet know how Meyer died but a drug overdose has been referenced as a possible cause.

Prosecutors’ and law enforcement groups back proposed child sex abuse amendment (VIDEO)

Judges would be allowed to decide whether juries would hear evidence of previous criminal acts in cases of sex crimes against minors, if voters approve Amendment 2 on the November ballot. Proponents say that would bring Missouri law in line with the standard used by federal courts and other states.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd is the Co-Chairman of the campaign supporting Amendment 2. He says decisions by the Missouri Supreme Court have created what he calls the most restrictive law in the United States about the admission of such evidence, known as propensity evidence, in those cases.

“The federal government and other states specifically allow this information to be provided to juries,” Zahnd says.

Missouri uses a two-phase trial system that has a guilt phase and a sentencing phase. Zahnd says current law allows juries to hear propensity evidence when considering a sentence, but not while considering whether the accused is guilty of a crime or crimes.

Passage of Amendment 2 could result in juries being presented with information including about crimes a person was only accused of, or even acquitted of. Zahnd says that’s when the judge comes in.

“It’s much more likely that a judge is going to say, ‘If that person’s been found innocent of a crime then that’s going to be much more likely to be unduly prejudicial and not probative on this issue, so I’m not going to allow that evidence to be presented,” says Zahnd.

“This doesn’t necessarily allow any single piece of evidence to ever be admitted at trial,” Zahnd adds. “Instead it gives prosecutors the chance to advocate before a judge.”

Zahnd says he believes there are people on the streets today that might not be if propensity evidence had been allowed in their trials.

“I also believe this: There are countless numbers of trials that happen, children who have to go and testify against their abusers, that if that abuser knew that his past crimes were going to be presented to the jury, would never be tried because that person would then plead guilty,” says Zahnd. “We would spare countless numbers of children the pain and the trauma of going to trial.”

Zahnd says most or all other states have not had to ask voters whether such evidence should be allowed. He thinks the biggest challenge will be making sure voters understand the issue.

“We’ve got to educate people about what this constitutional amendment does and why it’s important,” says Zahnd.

The American Civil Liberties Union declined to comment on Amendment 2. The Missouri State Public Defender’s office has not responded to a request for comment.