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Texas News Briefs 08.02.15

US oil and natural gas rig count 

down 2 to 874 

HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by two this week to 874.

Houston-based Baker Hughes said Friday 664 rigs were seeking oil and 209 explored for natural gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, 1,889 rigs were active.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, New Mexico gained three rigs, Louisiana gained two and North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming each gained one.

Kansas lost four rigs, Utah declined by three, Alaska and Pennsylvania each lost two and Colorado and West Virginia each declined by one.

Arkansas, California and Oklahoma were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.


Charges filed against ex-surgeon accused in deaths of 2 

DALLAS (AP) — A former neurosurgeon whose medical license was revoked after two patients died now faces potential prison time.

Dr. Christopher Duntsch was being held Friday in Dallas County Jail on bond exceeding $600,000. He was indicted last week on charges that include five counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury.

Officials say the 44-year-old Duntsch in 2012 botched two surgeries that resulted in significant blood loss and ultimately the deaths of the patients. They say four others he operated on suffered disabling injuries.

His attorney, Mario Herrera, says his client has not entered a plea but will fight the charges.

Duntsch's medical license was revoked by the state in 2013.


Texas company asks Missouri to rethink power line rejection 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Houston-based company is asking Missouri utility regulators to reconsider their rejection of a proposed high-voltage power line that was planned for a multistate wind energy project.

Clean Line Energy Partners wants the Missouri Public Service Commission to rehear its application to build a $2.2 billion transmission line to carry Kansas wind power across Missouri to eastern power grids, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1fOxjC2 ) reported.

The company says Missouri officials made multiple errors and did not act in an "even-handed" way when the commission on July 1 denied the request to build the Grain Belt Express.

"The project is too important to Missouri's energy future not to pursue," Clean Line Energy officials told the Star, adding that the state's ruling also deprived the rest of country of low-cost, clean energy.

Three of the panel's five members voted that Clean Line Energy failed to prove a need for the project, and they questioned whether the project was economically feasible and whether it would have promoted public interests. Commissioners also wondered whether the project was needed to meet state renewable energy standards requiring that utilities get 15 percent of energy from renewable resources by 2021. Three of four Missouri public utility companies already are set to meet that mark.

The project was backed by business groups, labor unions and environmentalists but opposed by farmers in the path that stretched from western Missouri's Buchanan County to Ralls County on the east side of the state. Landowners opposed to the project warned it would hurt farming and reduce property values where the power line was planned to be constructed.


South Texas sheriff's deputy faces jail drug-smuggling case 

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A South Texas jailer has been accused of smuggling drugs to inmates.

Bexar (bayr) County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau says 22-year-old Deputy Termaine  Elliott was arrested Friday at work in San Antonio.

Pamerleau says undercover investigators believe Elliott was transporting drugs and other contraband to inmates. She declined to identify what drugs were involved, including some confiscated from Elliott when he was arrested.

Elliott joined the sheriff's department in February and was assigned to the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. He's charged with bribery and possession of controlled substances in a correctional facility.

The sheriff did not immediately release bond or custody details for Elliott, or information on an attorney to speak on his behalf.

If convicted, Elliott faces up to 20 years in each felony count.


Lufkin teen guilty of assault in shooting of postal worker

LUFKIN, Texas (AP) — An East Texas teenager faces up to 10 years in prison for shooting a postal worker in the leg as she delivered mail last fall.

The Lufkin News  reports 17-year-old Jaylon Carroll Wortham of Lufkin pleaded guilty Thursday to assault in a plea deal.

Lufkin police say Lindsey Guthery was wearing a U.S. Postal Service uniform when she was shot last November while walking her route. She was treated for a wound to her left leg.

Wortham initially denied targeting the carrier and told police he used an air rifle to shoot at a bird or a squirrel.

Wortham, who was tried as an adult in the felony case, pleaded guilty to assault against a government employee and awaits sentencing.


Woman charged in Oklahoma with 

Medicaid fraud 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed Medicaid fraud and identity theft charges against a Texas woman.

Pruitt said Friday 37-year-old Melody Lewis of Dallas fraudulently billed the Oklahoma HealthCare Authority for nearly $75,000 from October 2011 through September 2014.

Court records do not list an attorney for Lewis.

Pruitt says Lewis worked for several behavioral counseling agencies in the Oklahoma City area when she used the identities of 65 different Medicaid recipients to file more than 1,000 claims for face-to-face services. Pruitt says investigators found that Lewis was traveling out of state when she claimed to have provided the face-to-face services.


Texas News Briefs 07.31.15

 Businessman finds cellphone that fell from plane 

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) — A Texas businessman used an app to find his iPhone in a rural pasture after it fell about 9,300 feet during a flight from Houston.


Pastor shoots burglary suspect at church in Baytown

BAYTOWN, Texas (AP) — Police say a pastor at a Houston-area church has shot a burglary suspect.


Austin doctor gets 10 years in prison for Medicare fraud

HOUSTON (AP) — An Austin physician has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and must repay $1.2 million for Medicare fraud.


Wichita Falls issues warning over missing 6-foot snake

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) — A public safety alert in one North Texas city has nothing to do with traffic or weather but instead involves a 6-foot creature that slithers.

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