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Former Indiana Elections Chief To Face Sentencing

Sentencing will be held tomorrow for former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White.

White was found guilty early this month of six felony counts, including voter fraud and theft, related to his voter registration for the 2010 Republican primary. Each count carries up to three years in prison.

Prosecutors say White lied about his residence in order to keep his seat on the Fishers City Council, when he had actually moved out of his council district.

White was forced to step down as Secretary of State because of the felony convictions, but has said he will ask the judge to reduce them to misdemeanors so he can be reinstated.

If the request is denied, it’s unclear who would take over as permanent Secretary of State. Gov. Mitch Daniels says it should be his appointee, but state Democrats argue the job should go to White’s Democratic opponent in 2010.

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in the dispute next week.

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Proposal to Trim Prison Population: Change Felony Law

Like other agencies, Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet must trim four percent from its budget.  The agency oversees the state’s prisons, which have seen the largest growth in population in the country.  Cabinet Secretary Michael Brown is proposing changes in the law which might help slow that growth.  Brown says one option is to set the bar higher for felony thefts.  Right now, stealing something worth $300 dollars can send you to prison.  Brown would like to see that raised to $500, or higher.

“If you don’t reach the felony threshold then you’re treated as a misdemeanor, which means you don’t come into the prison system.  You’re more likely to be in  program at the local level, where the focus is most likely to be on restitution,” says Brown.

The state legislature will have to consider this and other proposals.  Brown is also recommending streamlining the sentencing process and reducing drug conviction sentences.

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Jefferson County Alert to Tornado Siren Vandalization

Metro government officials say they have been alert to the dangers of vandalism to tornado sirens, especially after the recent discovery of sirens being tampered with in Elizabethtown.

During a recent test of tornado sirens in Elizabethtown, officials there found copper wiring had been stolen from six devices, requiring $10,000 in repairs.

Jim McKinney works for the Metro Emergency Management Agency. He says most of the 200 tornado sirens in Jefferson County are located in high traffic areas, including fire departments and schools. McKinney says they also are protected to deter thefts.

“Most of our sirens, we install them with vandalism and things of that nature in mind,” McKinney says. “Our sirens are raised so the general public just can’t get to them at ground level. And then some of our sirens, we have them in fenced areas.”

McKinney says the city tests the sirens monthly and has maintenance crews check many of them periodically.

Copper prices have skyrocketed since January making the metal more valuable to thieves. Scrap copper currently sells for about $3 per pound.