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Bookkeeper accused of $125,700 fraud

HAMMOND, La. (AP) - State police say a 70-year-old bookkeeper for a logging company is accused of cashing fraudulent checks worth over $125,700.

In February, Master Trooper Greg Marchand says Barbara Dantone's employer started noticing several discrepancies in the businesses' tax returns and bank accounts, but the owner did not notify state police until May, allowing time for an accountant to confirm the discrepancies.

Marchand says it was unclear when the fraudulent check cashing began, but Dantone was hired in 2005.

The Advocate reports Dantone of Robert was booked into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail in Amite Tuesday on more than 250 counts of forgery as well as more than 250 counts of bank fraud.

It was unclear whether Dantone has an attorney.


Judge rejects Renee Gill Pratt's bid for new trial

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge has rejected former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt's bid for a new trial.

The New Orleans Advocate reports U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled Wednesday that that jurors who convicted her in a 2011 racketeering trial were not "tainted in any way" by a former federal prosecutor who posted inflammatory comments about the proceedings under online news articles.

Gill Pratt's attorney, Mike Fawer, said Lemelle's ruling was "disappointing but not unexpected." He said he plans to appeal the ruling.

The ruling paves the way for Gill Pratt to begin serving a federal prison sentence she has managed to put off for several years.

Lemelle had ordered Gill Pratt to surrender Sept. 2 to begin serving 50 months behind bars.


LSU offering single-game tickets

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A limited number of tickets are currently on sale to the general public for six LSU home games in 2014

Associate athletic director for ticket operations Brian Broussard says the tickets are returns from the visiting teams.

Broussard said that the Alabama game is sold out but tickets for all other homes games can be purchased online at

For the first time, LSU is implementing a tiered pricing plan as well as a dynamic pricing system for games in Tiger Stadium in 2014. The tiered pricing plan will be based upon ticket location in the stadium, while the dynamic pricing system will take into account demand and availability.


Barge company moving to Gibson

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Inland and river barge company Settoon Towing has started construction on a $2.5 million operations center in Gibson.

The Courier reports the office and warehouse will replace the company's longtime operation center on Dunn Street in Houma.

Settoon employs about 500 people. Its primary business is the transport of liquids for the oil and gas industry in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway system and Mississippi River.

Officials say the company's corporate offices will remain in Pierre Part. Settoon said the proximity of Gibson to the corporate office was one reason for the new construction.

The new construction will include a 9,375-square-foot warehouse and a 15,000-square-foot, two-story office building.


Walker police seek Jack-in-the-Box robber

WALKER, La. (AP) - Walker police are looking for a man who robbed a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru at gunpoint while in his mini-van.

Captain John Sharp tells The Advocate the man even popped the mini-van's lift gate so that the license plate was out of the view of security cameras before taking cash and speeding off.

Sharp said no one was hurt during the robbery Tuesday night.


Grand jury indicts man in 2 Tigerland rapes

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury has indicted a 22-year-old Baton Rouge man accused of raping two women authorities believe he picked up a year apart in the Tigerland area.

Police have said DNA results from the State Police Crime Lab linked Isai Efrain Garcia-Vasquez to crimes.

His bail remains at $100,000.

The Advocate reports Garcia-Vasquez was indicted Wednesday on two counts of forcible rape and second-degree kidnapping.

His case has been assigned to state District Judge Lou Daniel.

It was unclear whether Garcia-Vasquez has an attorney.


La. groundwater program may need $900,000

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Members of the state Water Resources Commission have been told the state will need to find up to $900,000 a year to extend its groundwater monitoring program past 2015.

The monitoring program is a result of a 2011 report calling for better information about the condition of the state's groundwater resources. About $2.7 million from federal sources funded the initial three-year ramp up of the groundwater monitoring conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

John Lovelace, with the USGS Louisiana Water Science Center, tells The Advocate the program almost doubled the number of wells that could be monitored across the state from 279 to 473.

While water levels are measured four times a year at most of the wells, he says hourly readings are being conducted at 32 wells representing 19 aquifers.


City bus services to expand to Louisiana-Lafayette

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Officials say University of Louisiana at Lafayette students may soon ride to and from campus on Lafayette city buses.

The Advocate reports the Lafayette City-Parish Council is set to vote Aug. 19 on an agreement with the university that could add up to five city buses to ferry students between campus and the parking lot at Cajun Field, adding to the university's fleet of 11 buses and three shuttles.

The enhanced transit service could be in place by Aug. 25 and start carrying students during the fall semester. The deal also would allow students, faculty and staff to ride city buses anywhere in Lafayette for free by presenting their university ID card.

Officials say the university will lease the buses and use drivers from their Office of Transportation Services.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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