Stabbing suspects sought by Laughlin authorities

LAUGHLIN, NV.—Police are looking for suspects in a stabbing that took place early Sunday morning on the Riverwalk. It happened shortly before 1:30 a.m. when a photo opportunity went bad.

Las Vegas Metro police in Laughlin believe a family was stopped on the Riverwalk to take a picture when the male victim and his friends started to approach the family. The victim and his friends reportedly stopped as a courtesy to not disrupt the family’s picture, however, another couple who was not with the group, apparently didn’t stop and walked right through the photo op.

According to Metro, the Hispanic male and female walked another 15 yards when the female turned back around and began yelling, “what did you say” back at the family whose picture had been interrupted. Metro Lt. John Healy, commander of the Laughlin substation, described the woman as being extremely rude and abusive. She reportedly egged her boyfriend to do something.

The male victim, who was with his group of friends that had stopped so the family could take the picture, reportedly tried to deescalate the situation, however, it only made matter worse. The girlfriend turned her attention to him and began yelling and called her boyfriend over. At that point, eyewitnesses told investigators that the boyfriend pulled out a folding knife with what is believed to be a three-inch blade, and stabbed the victim once in the upper left abdomen area.

After the attack, the boyfriend and his girlfriend fled southbound on the Riverwalk with the victims chasing the suspects. The suspects managed to escape and are now being sought by police.

Healy said his officers are reviewing surveillance video from the different hotel properties to assist in identifying the suspects.

The victim’s injuries were said to be non-life threatening.

BHC doctor to pay $208,000 to Uncle Sam to settle lawsuit

PHOENIX, ARIZ.—A Bullhead City urologist has agreed to settle claims that he falsified invoices to Medicare for more than eight years. Dr. Bashir Azher, M.D. will pay $207,988 to the United States as part of an agreement to resolve civil allegations that he violated the federal False Claims Act.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona announced the settlement today while filing the formal documentation in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

“This settlement is the latest of our office’s longstanding and ongoing efforts to protect taxpayer dollars and recoup them when misappropriated,” said John S. Leonardo, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

“When physicians fail to meet professionally recognized standards of care while providing medically unnecessary procedures, taxpayers’ dollars are wasted and the public’s trust in the medical profession is at risk,” said Timothy B. DeFrancesca, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “Our agents will continue to hold health care providers accountable for improper claims.”

Investigators started taking a closer look at Azher’s billing practices after a competing urologist filed a whistleblower lawsuit last summer. Special Agents believed that Azher’s medical practice was submitting potentially false bills to Medicare for prostate laser ablation procedures, which are more commonly known as Green Light prostatectomies. According to the lawsuit, the urologist performed ‘Green Light’ procedures, which removes portions of the prostate gland, with incredible speed.

While the procedure can last upwards of an hour, the lawsuit alleges that not only did Dr. Azher knowingly perform some of these medical procedures in less than five minutes, but also suggests that such procedures were too short to generate much in the way of therapeutic benefit to the patient. As such, the lawsuit contends Azher ‘submitted materially false claims’ to Medicare for reimbursement for several prostate laser ablation procedures between Feb. 2006 and Jul. 2014.

Although agreeing to settle the lawsuit, Dr. Azher is not admitting guilt or responsibility for the billing or the procedures. According to Leonardo, the settlement is neither an admission of liability by Dr. Azher nor a concession by the United States that its claims are unfounded.

Today’s settlement filing allowed the judge in the case to unseal the whistleblower lawsuit which was filed in Jun. 2014. Once it was opened to the public it was discovered that the competing urologist that filed the lawsuit was former Fort Mohave urologist Dr. Arnaldo Trabucco, M.D., under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. This provision of the act allows private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery obtained, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Dr. Trabucco will receive a share of the settlement payment from Dr. Azher that formally resolves the lawsuit the former Fort Mohave urologist filed, which started the investigation.

Dr. Trabucco, who now resides in Florida, recently made headlines in the Tri-State area when his girlfriend and her son, both former Laughlin residents, were arrested in connection with a murder conspiracy they had allegedly planned to carry out against the attorney representing Dr. Trabucco’s ex-wife in an Indianapolis suburb. When the two alleged conspirators were originally caught in Indiana, it was Dr. Trabucco that bailed them out of jail. They absconded but were later arrested by U.S. Marshals in California and Montana. No charges have been filed against Dr. Trabucco in the case, but authorities say they are investigating his involvement.

Laughlin boating accident victim was a Lake Havasu City resident

    LAUGHLIN, NV.— Investigators with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) now say that it was a Lake Havasu City woman that was killed Monday afternoon in a boating accident on the Nevada-side of the Colorado River. Her name and age have not been released pending notification of next of kin. The victim was transferred to the Clark County Coroner’s Office to determine an exact cause of death.

Preliminary reports indicate that the woman was all alone on the boat when it crashed into a moored water taxi at around 4 p.m. The impact caused extensive damage to the victim’s vessel, causing it to partially sink. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

There were no other occupants on the damaged boat, nor any passengers on the water taxi.

NDOW spokesman Ed Lyngar said, investigators are still trying to determine what caused the accident and suggested their investigation will likely continue into tomorrow.

Be sure to follow this story on The Morning Show Facebook page, as well as on tv2/NEWS during Tuesday’s edition of The Morning Show with Bruce Clark.

Vehicle bursts into flames after striking a light pole in Laughlin

The driver managed to safely escape after a fire consumed his vehicle shortly after colliding with a light pole on Needles Highway, south of State Route 163 in Laughlin.

A California man was fortunate to walk away from his burning vehicle early this morning after colliding with a light pole in Laughlin. Las Vegas Metro police and Clark County Fire Department crews were dispatched to the single-vehicle traffic accident on Needles Highway, just south of State Route 163 interchange at 4:40 a.m.

The driver was travelling north on Needles Highway and was attempting to light a cigarette when he burned himself, according to Metro Lt. John Healy, the commander of the Laughlin substation. The driver dropped everything and in the process allowed his vehicle to drift to the right and into one the light poles near the intersection.

“It distracted him enough to lose sight of where he was going,” Healy said.

Investigators say that the driver, whose name was not released by authorities, was jarred by the collision, but managed to stay conscious, allowing him to exit just seconds before a fire broke out and consumed the entire front end of the vehicle.

He was not injured.

Metro cited the driver for failing to maintain his travel lane.

Crews with the Nevada Department of Transportation arrived on scene to safely remove the light pole. One crewman said, the light pole was designed to fall down immediately when struck by an object with that amount of force and suggested the incident will be investigated to determine why that did not happen.

Four teens hospitalized after accident in Golden Valley

GOLDEN VALLEY,ARIZ.–Four teenagers were hospitalized with critical injuries last night following a rollover accident on Teddy Roosevelt Road. Paramedics with the Golden Valley Fire Department (GVFD) were dispatched to the accident near Mancos Drive shortly after 6 p.m.

GVFD Chief Thomas O’Donnell says that his crews reported two occupants that had been riding in the back seat of the vehicle were not wearing their seatbelts as required byArizonastate law. Both were ejected from the vehicle as it rolled. He said, their injuries were thought to be life-threatening. There were two other passengers who were not ejected, but required medical attention.

The driver reported that he was wearing his seatbelt and paramedics said he sustained only moderate injuries. He was reportedly southbound on Teddy Roosevelt Road and left the roadway, rolling his car on the east side of the road.

**** UPDATE ****

Investigators with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office believe the driver of the vehicle that rolled yesterday in Golden Valley was purposefully causing the car to ‘fishtail’ right before he lost control of the vehicle. The driver has been identified as Jacob Hultenschmidt, 18, of Golden Valley.

The three passengers that were not wearing their seat belts and ejected from the vehicle: Jacob Lucero, 18, of Kingman, Cassandra Emery, 19, of Kingman and Shania Riordan, 19, of Golden Valley, all suffered fractures and/or lacerations. All four occupants were transported to Kingman Regional Medical Center. Emery and Lucero were subsequently airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas. Their conditions are unknown at this time.

The accident is under investigation by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

 

California man arrested after trying to use stolen credit card at LHC resort

LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZ.– A California man is accused of making room reservations at a resort using a stolen credit card from New Jersey. Lake Havasu City police say that William Taylor, 25, of Rialto, Calif., booked five rooms at a local hotel back on Jul. 24. The reservations were for this past weekend.

Unbeknownst to Taylor, the owner of the credit cards that were used in the transaction became aware of the scheme, cancelled the cards and called police. The resort was also notified.

Investigators didn’t notify Taylor in the hopes of catching him in Lake Havasu City if he decided to follow through with the reservation. Police obtained search warrants for Taylor and his vehicle before he ever arrived.

Taylor arrived on schedule and was arrested once he tried to check into the hotel using the stolen credit cards. Detectives found a total of three credit cards that were determined to be stolen or fraudulent.

Instead of getting booked into the hotel, Taylor was booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, charged with aggravated identity theft and fraudulent schemes.

Evacuation orders for some Mohave Valley neighborhoods lifted at 11 a.m.

The Willow Fire in the south Mohave Valley has grown to 6,780-acres as of 6:15 a.m., Monday morning.

MOHAVE VALLEY, ARIZ.– Evacuation orders are being lifted for some neighborhoods effected by the Willow Fire. Commanders with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team say they will allow residents in the Marina Coves, Tangerine Terrance, Arizona Village, Aqua View, Delta City and Riverview Terrace neighborhood return to their homes today. The evacuation order was officially lifted at 11 a.m. That leaves only the Topock Rancheros neighborhood as the only area where the evacuation order remains in effect.

The Willow Fire was very active yesterday with intense fire behavior, according to Incident Commander Alan Sinclair. Most of the smoke seen around the Tri-State area yesterday was from the burning of pockets of fuel within the interior of the fire, which had grown to 6,780-acres by early this morning. Sinclair indicated that firefighters concentrated their efforts on suppression efforts to protect structures. No additional structures were lost last night.

While the evacuation orders are being lifted, Sinclair indicated there are still trouble spots and concerns for the management team. Particularly, commanders are concerned about the possible presence of ‘ash pits,’ dead standing trees and other hazardous materials that may have been caught up in the blaze.

“In the neighborhoods impacted by the fire we want to insure that damaged infrastructure does not pose a threat to public safety,” Sinclair said. “We’re working with cooperators to mitigate these issues.”

Firefighters are also concerned about the weather today. A rise in temperature and a decrease in humidity could create prime conditions to allow the fire to become active again.

Willow Fire grows to 5,000 acres, more evacuations orders, but schools will open tomorrow

A map shown during a community meeting at the Mohave Valley Fire Department outlines the area burned by the Willow Fire

MOHAVE VALLEY, ARIZ.—Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Moss has officially declared a state of emergency in connection with the Willow Fire, which has now grown to approximately 5,000 acres. Several structures have been lost in the south Mohave Valley, but no injuries have been reported. The declaration makes more money available from the state, which is sending firefighting crews to the Tri-State area to help battle the blaze.

At this time, firefighters are concentrating their efforts on getting the fire contained and keeping it from taking any more structures. Investigators have not been able to identify the fire’s point of origin nor have the determined how it started. It was first reported to local firefighters at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

A resident who attended a meeting this afternoon at the Mohave Valley Fire Department told tv2/NEWS afterward that they lost their home and had only minutes to evacuate as the fire encroached upon their property in the Topock Lake Ranchero subdivision.
More evacuations were ordered late this morning and early afternoon as the fire approached the eastern edge of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe’s Arizona Village, and the subdivision directly across Plantation Road. Evacuations remain in effect for the Topock Lake Rancheros and River Delta subdivisions, as well as those along Aqua View Drive, Tangerine Terrace, River View and Marina Coves.

Those effected by the evacuations are encouraged to go to the former Mohave Valley Elementary School on Willow Drive. The American Red Cross has opened up a shelter at the former school. School district officials have also opened up classrooms for animals in carriers. The River Fund—a local non-profit agency that assists those in need—has also made arrangements to assist those effected by the Willow Fire. River Fund officials are also assisting those that were unable to retrieve their medication prior to evacuation.

Mohave Valley Elementary School District superintendent Whitney Crow says that all schools will be open tomorrow. Students affected by evacuations can use any school bus stop to get to school and a bus will be made available from the shelter at Mohave Valley Elementary. Crow suggested sending your kids to school is probably one of the best ways to get their mind off the current situation. However, if parents choose not to send their kids to school, their absence will not be counted against them.

2015 River Regatta considered a success with almost 27,000 participants

City officials estimate 26,801 floaters from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii took part in today's 9th Annual Bullhead City River Regatta. (COURTESY: City of Bullhead City)

BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.— Nearly 27,000 people from 43 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, took part in today’s 9th Annual “River Round-up” Bullhead City River Regatta, a western-themed event. City officials say the annual event went off without a hitch.

Preliminary reports indicate that the world’s largest river float down the Colorado River drew 26,801 registered participants from around the country who drifted on tubes, floats and handcrafted vessels along the nine mile stretch of river.

Floaters began launching at 7 a.m. from Davis Camp, Bullhead City Community Park, on the Arizona side of the river, as well as from two locations on the Nevada side– at the Pioneer Hotel Casino & Harrah’s Resort beaches.

Participants came ashore at Rotary Park where they enjoyed hotdogs and cool beverages before boarding the shuttle bus back to their cars or Laughlin resorts.

More than 20 public safety agencies participated in this year’s event, including air, ground and river support, to help make the day safe and fun for everyone.

Winners of the Decorated Float and Most Spirited House contest will be announced tomorrow, Aug. 9, starting at 10 a.m. at the Harrah’s Laughlin banquet room.

Crews are already looking forward to next year’s River Regatta. The theme has already been established as the “Pirates of the Colorado,” River Regatta, which will take place on Aug. 13, 2016.

For more information, log on to www.BullheadRegatta.com.

Primary property tax increase approved, but supervisors approve decreases in two other tax rates to offset the impact.

KINGMAN, ARIZ.– In the end, most Mohave County property owners will not be paying more in taxes, but it was a wild day at Monday’s board of supervisors meeting to get to that point. The county’s primary property tax rate will go up, but secondary taxes for the Television Improvement District and the Library District were lowered. The 15-cent increase in the primary property tax rate will be offset by decreases in the tax rate for the two secondary districts. The surprise changes, which will result in no net increase for taxpayers, were unveiled at the end of Monday’s marathon meeting.

The deeply divided board first voted to increase the county’s primary property tax rate, but they turned down a proposal to send a letter to taxpayers that opponents said would do nothing but blame the state legislature for the tax increase.

The board voted 3-to-2 to increase the property tax by 4.3 percent. District 1 Supervisor Gary Watson, District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson and District 4 Supervisor Jean Bishop continued to stand in solidarity, approving the tax increase that they have steadfastly supported in two previous votes. County administrators indicated that the increase will result in the primary property taxes on a $100,000 home to increase from $188.88 to $196.96.

District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius and District 5 Supervisor and Board chairman Steve Moss continued their ardent opposition to the property tax increase. Both supervisors have long held that the county already has sufficient cash reserves to pay the estimated $2.5 million dollars in cost-shifts from the state and the other $1.3 million in budget shortfalls without raising any tax. Having lost two previous votes opposing the property tax increase, both Angius and Moss tried to revive the push for an increase in the county’s sales tax instead, but that also did not gain any traction with their colleagues.

Bishop mentioned that the sales tax increase was her preferred choice, but said that did not seem to resonate with Johnson, who was the only holdout on the sales tax discussion. Unlike the property tax increase, Arizona state law requires such an increase in the sales tax be approved by unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors. Johnson made it clear during the budget discussions that he would never support an increase in the sales tax, therefore killing the proposal.

Johnson defended his position on the sales tax issue by saying such an increased would impose more of a burden on the public than the property tax. Johnson indicated a quarter-cent sales tax would generate $7.5 million in revenues, compared to the $1.4 million that will be generated by the property tax increase.

Angius challenged Johnson’s position by saying it would spread the impact onto more people, including non-residents who don’t pay property tax. She also said it would offer the county an opportunity to give property owners a tax break.

In the end it was Johnson, however, that unveiled another proposal to offset the increase in the primary property tax rate. A suggestion to decrease the TV and Library Districts tax rates in an amount equal to the primary increase won support from all supervisors with the exception of Moss.

Moss was concerned about operational concerns with the county’s libraries in voting against the proposal.

Despite Moss’ ‘no’ vote, Angius called the last minute change a win for both supervisors, as well as the taxpayers in Mohave County. She said, the ongoing pressure from residents is to be credited for today’s last-minute change.

Although the property tax increase was approved, a proposal to send a letter to taxpayers explaining the need for the added revenues was not approved. Rather than joining Johnson and Watson, who supported the letter concept, Bishop instead joined Angius and Moss in opposition to it.

Johnson had offered the letter as a way to explain to property owners how the state’s costs shifts over the last decade have impacted Mohave County. He modeled his proposal after what is done in Pinal County. Tax bills in Pinal County include a separate line-item showing taxpayers what part of their taxes go to pay for the cost-shifts from the state.

Johnson referred to it as an ‘educational’ piece to inform taxpayers as to why property taxes are going up.

His proposal ran into opposition from Reps. Sonny Borrelli, (R-Lake Havasu City), and Regina Cobb, (R-Kingman), who also addressed the board during today’s meeting. Borrelli called the proposal an ‘electioneering’ effort to provide cover to the supervisors who were voting to increase taxes.

Watson was the only county supervisor to join Johnson in voting for the letter. As such, the proposal failed and letters will not be sent to taxpayers.