Fire destroys a garage in Laughlin

 LAUGHLIN– A fire this morning in the Bilbray Ranch subdivision in Laughlin destroyed a garage and its contents. No one was injured when the fire broke out shortly after 10 a.m. (PST).

Emergency crews with Clark County Fire Stations 76 and 85 were dispatched to the residential structure fire in the 2200 block of Dillons Cove Dr. When they arrived, they found heavy smoke pouring out of the garage. They quickly knocked down the flames and began to search the rest of the house to ensure the fire did not spread.

Neighbors reported hearing loud popping noises coming from the garage just before the smoke started to show. The homeowner had reportedly been doing some work on one of his vehicles that required a welding torch, but fire investigators have not determined whether the work had anything to do with the fire. A Jeep that was on jack-stands was one of the items destroyed in the garage.

Emergency crews remain on scene at this time.

We’ll have more on this story as the information becomes available. Be sure to tune in to The Morning Show on Friday when tv2′s Julie Norton will have the complete story on this fire.

Two BHC residents caught trying to cash a forged check

     BULLHEAD CITY– Two Bullhead City residents have been charged with stealing a checkbook from a relative and trying to cash a forged check at a local bank. It was the bank employees that actually stopped the alleged fraud from taking place.

Bullhead City police say that officials with the bank contacted dispatchers after Kenneth Earl Conrick, 39, presented them with what they said was an obviously forged check Monday afternoon. The employees compared the signature on the check with what they have at the bank and determined the two signatures did not match. They then called the owner of the account and were advised that it was a fraudulent check.

Once police arrived at the bank, the employees pointed out Conrick’s vehicle and identified him as the person who had presented the check to them.

After questioning Conrick and conducting their investigation, police identified a second suspect, Annette Rinehart, 56, who is the daughter of the victim. She allegedly supplied Conrick with the stolen check that he took to the bank. Police later confirmed that Rinehart was in possession of her mother’s checkbook.

Police took both Rinehart and Conrick into custody. The officers found another torn-up check in Rinehart’s jacket pocket. Another stolen and altered check was found inside her purse, along with several drug paraphernalia items, including syringes, a plastic bindle with heroin residue and metal spoons with a usable quantity of heroin.

Rinehart has been charged with completing a forged instrument, two counts of possession of a forged instrument, eight counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a narcotic drug and theft.

Conrick was charged with possession of a forged instrument, presenting a forged instrument, possession of stolen property and false reporting to law enforcement.

Both suspects were booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman.

Las Vegas man treated for a bullet wound, MCSO says it was an accidental shooting

     GOLDEN VALLEY, ARIZ.- A Las Vegas man was taken to Kingman Regional Medical Center over the weekend after shooting himself in the leg. At first, the victim denied shooting himself, but eventually confessed.

Travis Neil Cook, 33, had been stopped on Interstate 40 in Golden Valley Saturday night by an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer for a traffic violation. The officer called for paramedics and Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies after noticing the driver had a bullet wound to his right calf.

There were no other occupants in the vehicle, but Cook denied any accidental shooting.
Deputies located a .357 magnum revolver next to Cook’s seat with a spent casing. Cook was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, where he was treated and later released.

Fort Mohave man arrested on aggravated assault charges

     FT. MOHAVE — A bizarre incident last Friday afternoon caught the attention of motorists on Camp Mohave Road, prompting them to call the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Friday, sheriff’s dispatchers started receiving reports of a male subject acting oddly on the streets in a residential neighborhood of Fort Mohave. Some of the calls described the man as cursing and humping a stop sign at Camp Mohave Road and Calle Del Media. Others said the man was ‘freaking out’ and was carrying a baseball bat.

Deputies responded to the area and found a man matching the description, but he started running as they approached. A sheriff’s office spokesperson said, the deputies had to wrestle him to the ground to get control of him. He sustained some abrasions to his face, and was treated at the scene by Fort Mojave Mesa Fire Department paramedics. Once medically cleared, he was taken into custody.

While paramedics were tending to the suspect, a 64-year old Fort Mohave woman approached the deputies and identified the suspect as her brother, Danny Michael Gallentine, 56, of Fort Mohave. She claimed that Gallentine was a methamphetamine user and had been acting crazy for the past 10 days. The sister also told deputies that he had assaulted her earlier in the afternoon and at one point started swinging the baseball bat at her. He escaped by locking herself in a bedroom.

Deputies later determined that Gallentine was also wanted on an outstanding warrant out of Bullhead City Justice Court for failing to pay fines. He was booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman on the warrant and was also charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

MHS boys soccer team reinstated, Ranked #3

    BULLHEAD CITY– The Mohave Thunderbirds boys’ soccer team is once again eligible to participate in post-season play. The Arizona Interscholastic Association reversed course on Wednesday and voted to remove the disciplinary action it had taken just one week earlier.

The T-Birds were placed on probation by the AIA Executive Board last week after determining the school’s response to an incident during a match last month in Avondale, Ariz. was insufficient. The incident centered around a player that had pushed the arms of an official during a tournament game against Estrella Foothills on Dec. 14. The AIA was told that Mohave administrators held a team meeting and admonished the players and coaches about the necessity of good sportsmanship.

Through some sort of clerical error, the AIA was never told that the player who committed the foul was suspended for the remainder of the tournament– a total of three games. That fact came to light during Mohave’s appeal earlier this week.

“The AIA didn’t get all of the information on what we at Mohave did after that incident,” said principal Steve Lawrence. “They didn’t know that we suspended him for the rest of the tournament.”

Although shocked by the original decision to place his schools boys’ soccer team on probation, Lawrence was optimistic the AIA would listen to the school’s appeal because of a history of being proactive in extra-curricular offenses.

“We’ve been very pro-active at Mohave when it comes to issues with our different sports,” Lawrence said. “We self-report incidents, we take action when necessary and we always stress what we expect from our student athletes.”

“We take this very seriously,” he added. “We demand that our players play with class and represent our community with good sportsmanship and we’re not afraid to administer discipline whenever it’s appropriate.”

As of Thursday (1/28) morning, the Mohave boys varsity team is ranked No. 3 in Division III with a 9-2 record. The boys lost a 5-0 decision Tuesday afternoon to No. 1 ranked Yuma Catholic in a game played in Yuma, Ariz. The boys travel to Surprise, Ariz. Thursday night for a section match against Willow Canyon. It’s the last game of the regular season.

The final brackets for the Arizona Division III state tournament will be announced on Friday.

Traffic accident claims the life of Kingman man

     BULLHEAD CITY– The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) believes one of the cars involved in a fatal traffic accident Tuesday east of Bullhead City was broken down when it was struck from behind. The collision killed a passenger in the disabled car, who has been identified as Michael Scott Coulter, 22, of Kingman.

DPS investigators say the disabled vehicle was partially blocking one of the eastbound traffic lanes when another vehicle struck it from behind. The impact pushed the disabled car into the median. Although he was wearing his seat belt, Coulter was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the disabled car, Amber Dawn Jackson, 22, of Kingman, and the driver of the rear-ending vehicle, Dores Cleveland Trilby, Sr., 83, of Kingman, were both transported to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City. Their current conditions are unknown at this time.

DPS is continuing their investigation.

MHS appealing AIA decision on boys soccer team

     BULLHEAD CITY– An “aggressive” appeal is how Mohave High School principal Steve Lawrence described his school’s efforts to reverse a decision last week that could keep the T-Bird boys varsity soccer team out of the playoffs this year.

The executive board of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) voted last week to place the Mohave boys soccer team on probation for a year for an incident that took place last month in Avondale, Ariz. If the decision is allowed to remain in effect, it will disallow the boys from participating in post-season play, which they were almost assured of securing because of their 9-1 record and No. 3 ranking in Div. III.

“We are aggressively pursuing an appeal,” said principal Steve Lawrence. “We are hoping to get this resolved quickly because the playoff start next week.”

The AIA is scheduled to release its brackets for the post-season on Friday.

It was back on Dec. 14 at a game against Estrella Foothills that one of the Mohave T-Bird players allegedly pushed an official. Lawrence said, the school took corrective measures and disciplined the player, but the AIA didn’t feel the school went far enough.

“We took our own disciplinary action against the player like we always do,” Lawrence said. He did not disclose the nature of the action taken, but suggested it was the same action they take in these types of situations, which he and his administrative staff take very seriously.

At this time, it’s unknown when the AIA executive board will consider Mohave’s appeal. Lawrence notified the AIA on Monday that the school was appealing the decision. The formal appeal was faxed this afternoon and a copy was sent overnight to the AIA offices in Phoenix.

“We just hope this can be handled and addressed in a timely manner,” Lawrence said. “We know how serious this is and hope the boys will be allowed to participate in the playoffs.”

Laughlin man returned to Nevada, charged with Sexual Assault Against a Child

     LAUGHLIN– A sexual assault suspect has been extradited back to Nevada and will be arraigned this week in Laughlin Justice Court.

Matthew R. Heck has been charged with five counts of Sexual Assault Against a Child in connection with an incident that dates back to 2014.

Heck was recently returned to Nevada after spending nearly two years in an Arizona state prison for a 2014 conviction in Mohave County Superior Court for an unrelated incident that took place in Bullhead City. The 25-year old Laughlin man plead guilty to a single count of Theft of a credit card in exchange for the two year sentence.

The circumstances behind the charges in Nevada are unknown. Because the case involves a minor, details of the alleged criminal activity have not been released. Heck was booked into the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas and went before Judge Tim Atkins Monday morning for his initial appearance via video conference from the jail.
Judge Atkins scheduled Heck’s arraignment for Thursday.

We’ll have more on this story as the information becomes available. Be sure to watch the tv2 Morning News with Julie Norton on Tuesday with any new developments in this case.

Confrontation after MALC/LHS basketball game leads to arrest

     LAUGHLIN—After the Mohave Accelerated Patriots defeated the Laughlin Cougars Friday night, a confrontation between fans led to the arrest of a Bullhead City man. Las Vegas Metro Police arrested Cody K. Betzer, 21, on charges of disorderly conduct at resisting a police officer.

Lt. John Healy says it all started after Betzer and two of his friends tore up a poster inside the Laughlin High School gymnasium after MALC beat Cougars, 53-35. In response to their actions, numerous people reportedly told the group to leave the gym.

Betzer is reported to have responded by swearing at those asking him to leave. Healy said, the confrontation escalated to the point where Betzer started challenging a senior citizen in an apparent attempt to get physical. That’s when the Metro officers, who were already at the game, asked Betzer to leave the school grounds. Healy said, Betzer continued his tirade and used a vulgarity in response to the officer’s request that he leave.

When officers attempted to take Betzer into custody for the disturbance, Healy said, the Bullhead City man told them they couldn’t touch him. He reportedly continued to resist by trying to pull away from the officers. One officer did remove his Taser from his holster, but did not need to deploy it.

Betzer was eventually take into custody and booked into the Tucker Holding Facility in Laughlin.

Former Kingman city employee indicted, arrested

     KINGMAN, ARIZ.– The former interim finance director for the City of Kingman has been indicted on 23 felony counts related to her alleged theft of more than a million dollars from city coffers.

Diane Maxine Richards is being held at the Mohave County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. She was arrested this morning after being indicted by a State Grand Jury on 18 counts of theft, three counts of forgery and two counts of misuse of public monies. Special Agents with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office working jointly with Immigration & Customs Homeland Security Investigations made the arrest in Kingman.

“Protecting the hardworking taxpayers of Arizona is a top priority,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Taxpayers are the real victims in cases involving theft and misuse of public monies.”

“Our office will continue to work with HSI and all law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute these cases,” he added.

In September 2015, Special Agents with the Attorney General’s Office and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched an investigation after financial institutions reported unusual activity involving Richards bank accounts.

Investigators found Richards allegedly misused a City of Kingman credit card to pay for her personal expenses from July 2007 through January 2015. Those personal expenses include payments to Richards’ personal cell phone, utility, and car insurance bills. Richards is alleged to have submitted falsified invoices to account for the charges. She also is alleged to have used the City of Kingman credit card to pay off cash advances taken out at various casinos in Laughlin. The total amount Richards allegedly spent on this City of Kingman credit card without authorization is $121,862.11.

From September 2008 to November 2015, Richards allegedly misappropriated money from a bank account used by the City of Kingman to fund its Employee Benefits Trust. The indictment alleges Richards misused her position as Security Manager on the account to alter the access settings and granted herself sole authority to both initiate and approve transactions. Richards is also alleged to have transferred money out of the account to pay off 17 personal lines of credit. A large portion of the money was used to allegedly cover cash advances taken out on Richards’ credit cards at casinos in Laughlin. This conduct continued until Richards was terminated in November 2015 following the execution of search warrants at her home and Kingman City Hall. Richards is accused of misappropriating $991,727.74 from the Employee Benefits Trust account.

The total amount Richards is alleged to have taken is $1,113,589.85.