Central Maine News: January 15, 2016
These are some of the stories central Maine is talking about today.
(AP) — Maine Gov. Paul LePage says an attempt to launch an impeachment investigation amounted to a "nonsense" and "foolishness." The Republican issued the statement after critics failed to muster enough support to require a vote on an independent investigation that could have led to impeachment over his alleged abuse of power. The governor was accused of using influence to pressure a charter school operator into rescinding a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.LePage said the effort was a "political witch hunt that had absolutely no merit."
(AP) -- The state Fire Marshal's Office says a two-story house under renovation in Union has been destroyed by an explosion and fire. No one was at home; the occupants were staying elsewhere while the house was being worked on. Authorities say the house was being heated with portable propane heaters and was leveled in the explosion, which happened at about 3 a.m. Thursday. Investigators have on the scene for hours and are looking through the rubble.
(AP) -- A Maine fraud unit has released data regarding welfare benefits theft in 2015. DHHS Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit said it uncovered the theft of more than $1.2 million in welfare benefits last year. The release stated that a record 105 welfare fraud cases were brought by investigators to the Attorney General's Office. In 2014, a total of 81 cases were prosecuted. The number of prosecuted cases has climbed each year since there were none in 2009. If you want to report potential fraud, call the state's Fraud Hotline at 1-888-348-1129 or report it online.
(WABI) -- A Chelsea man has been arrested after police say he conned people out of money through Craigslist. According to WABI, police have been looking for Ervin Morrison, 23, since last summer. They received complaints he had never delivered services or products as promised in his posts on the online selling site. Morrison faces theft charges and arrest warrants from Massachusetts. Police ask that anyone who might have been a victim to these schemes call 624-8947.
(WABI) -- The push to increase Maine’s minimum wage continues. Mainers for Fair Wages submitted 75,000 signatures to the Secretary of State Thursday. That surpasses the amount of signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot next November. The proposal would increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2017, then by a dollar a year until it reaches $12 in 2020. The office of the Secretary of State has 30 days to review and verify the petitions before passing it on to lawmakers. If they don’t approve it, the issue would go to a statewide ballot.
(AP) — Police in Maine say a woman was shot to death by her husband inside their home in Windham. Authorities identified the victim as 34-year-old Alicia Gaston. Police say her husband, 33-year-old Noah Gaston, is cooperating in the investigation. Police said the shooting happened at about 6:15 a.m. Thursday and there three young kids were home at the time. Officials say evidence has been gathered from the home and an autopsy is being conducted.
(AP) — Maine police say they have arrested the same man for the second time in a month on heroin trafficking charges.27-year-old Kenneth Gray of Deer Isle was out on bail after his arrest last month when they say they found 30 grams of heroin and $4,000 in cash in his car Wednesday afternoon. Agents say they suspect the cash came from drug sales. They say the heroin has a street value of about $10,000.
(AP) — Taxpayers nationwide will get a few days' grace this year to file their returns thanks to a little-known holiday in the nation's capital. And the head of the IRS promises 1,000 more customer services representative will be available to ease waiting times on information lines. IRS Commissioner says taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their taxes. That's because Friday, April 15 is Emancipation Day, a public holiday in Washington D.C. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts will have an additional day because of Patriot's Day.
(AP) — The gloves have come off for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. After months of civility between the two Republican presidential candidates, on Thursday night they clashed in several heated exchanges. Trump said Cruz has a "big question mark" hanging over his candidacy given his birth in Canada to an American mother. Cruz questioned Trump's conservatism, saying he has "New York values."
(AP) — Michigan's governor is asking President Barack Obama to issue an emergency and major disaster declaration because of the Flint water crisis. Gov. Rick Snyder's office says it's asking for additional federal aid for both individuals and public agencies involved in the effort to provide Flint residents with clean drinking water. Flint's tap water became contaminated with too much lead after the city switched its water supply in 2014 to save money.