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State briefs for June 17

23 alleged gang members arrested in three states

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In what federal prosecutors characterized as an effort to dismantle a far-reaching outlaw biker gang with roots in Nevada and California, officials said Friday that 23 Vagos motorcycle club leaders, members or associates were arrested in three states on charges including racketeering, murder, kidnapping, robbery and assault.

Acting U.S. Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco characterized an indictment filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nevada as a coordinated takedown of the leadership of a biker organization he blamed for “drug addiction, death and mayhem in … California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon and Nevada.”

A Justice Department statement identified eight of the people charged as being responsible for the September 2011 killing of a top boss of the rival Hells Angels Motorcycle Club at a northern Nevada casino.

Officials said all 23 men were in custody after arrests were made in and around Las Vegas, Reno, Los Angeles, San Jose and Kailua, Oahu.

Prosecutors said they had help in California from authorities in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties. At least nine arrests were made in northern and southern Nevada, and one defendant lives in Kailua.

The 12-count indictment alleges the club is a racketeering enterprise with nearly 90 chapters in at least seven countries.

Suit seeks review of agribusiness operations

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — A lawsuit alleges an agribusiness company broke state law by failing to conduct an environmental review before starting operations.

Community group Ke Kauhulu o Mana, Surfrider Foundation, Kohola Leo and the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action filed the suit Tuesday against Syngenta Corporation, a Switzerland-based agribusiness that produces agrochemicals and seeds.

According to a Ke Kauhulu o Mana news release, the groups also list the state Department of Land and Natural Resources as a defendant because it’s the state’s responsibility to ensure those leasing public lands abide by state regulations.

Syngenta works about 4,000 acres in Hawaii. The company announced in May it was selling its Hawaii operations to Wisconsin-based seed company Hartung Brothers Inc., with an anticipated closing date by the end of this month.

The legal action rests on the allegation Syngenta is doing industrial research, not conventional farming, and the law requires the public to be informed if there are any environmental impacts from their operations, according to a news release from Kohola Leo.

DLNR and Syngenta have until July 3 to respond to the complaint.

New schools chief immersed in Ariz. controversy

HONOLULU (AP) — The woman selected to lead Hawaii’s public schools is at the center of a nearly $1 million controversy with her current school district in Arizona.

Auditors found Gilbert Public Schools overcounted enrollment figures under Christina Kishimoto’s leadership. Because Arizona schools get state funding based on student attendance, the state overpaid the district $962,767.

The state now wants its money back.

The overcounting started before Kishimoto took over leadership of Gilbert’s schools and continued the two years she was there, former Gilbert Public Schools Board Member Julie Smith said.

“I don’t believe it was intentional,” Smith said.

Kishimoto’s first day as superintendent of the state Department of Education is Aug. 1.


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