STAR SCIENTIFIC-TAX DISPUTE
Virginia, Star Scientific settle tax dispute
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Dietary supplement maker Star Scientific Inc. has agreed to pay $975,000 to settle a dispute with the Virginia Department of Taxation.
Court documents show the Henrico-based company reached a final settlement with state officials last month.
Star Scientific sued the tax department in Mecklenberg Circuit Court in 2011 challenging the assessment of retail sales and use tax on its purchase of tobacco curing barns.
The settlement covers the more than $707,000 bill plus interest and penalties.
Star Scientific previously marketed tobacco products but exited that business last year to focus on dietary supplements, including its Antabloc anti-inflammatory support product.
State and federal authorities are investigating its CEO's relationship with Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Both received thousands of dollars in gifts from Star Scientific and its CEO.
Va. man sentenced in bottle assault of reggae star
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to throwing a bottle that hit and injured reggae star Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert during a concert.
Media outlets report that 20-year-old William Connor Lewis of Henrico County pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery on Thursday in Richmond Circuit Court. He also apologized for the incident.
Judge Margaret P. Spencer sentenced Lewis to 12 months in jail, and then suspended six months of the term.
Lewis had been scheduled to stand trial Thursday on a felony malicious wounding charge
Hibbert is the leader of Toots & the Maytals. He was hit in the head by a vodka bottle while performing at a concert in Richmond in May.
Hibbert filed a $20 million lawsuit in August against several organizations alleging inadequate security at the concert.
O'Malley named chairman of Chesapeake Bay council
WASHINGTON (AP) - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has been named the chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council.
O'Malley pledged Thursday to lead the Chesapeake Bay Program into a new era of progress.
The governor says he hopes to have a new Chesapeake Bay Watershed agreement signed. The agreement is now in its draft form. It will be the fourth of its kind. It will set a series of goals to guide restoration efforts across the watershed.
O'Malley served two consecutive terms as chair in 2007 and 2008.
The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership that directs bay preservation and restoration.
Martinsville shelves town reversion proposal
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) - Martinsville's City Council has shelved a proposal to revert the city to a town within Henry County.
Media outlets report that the council voted 3-2 this week to table the proposal. The council tabled a similar proposal in 2005.
A study by accounting firm Robinson Farmer Cox Associates found that Martinsville could save up to $28 million annually by reverting to a town. The savings would come from the county taking over some government functions.
The city has balanced its yearly budgets with reserve funds for several years. The study says the city's general fund could be depleted in three years.
Mayor Kim Adkins says the city isn't broke. She says city finances have improved over the past 10 years.
Stafford Co. man convicted of 2nd-degree murder
STAFFORD, Va. (AP) - A Stafford County man has been convicted of second-degree murder in the 2007 slaying of another man.
The Free Lance-Star reports that 49-year-old Stuart Lee Sullivan Jr. entered an Alford plea on Wednesday in Stafford County Circuit Court. Sentencing is set for March 21, 2014.
An Alford plea means the defendant doesn't admit guilt but agrees that evidence is strong enough to convict them.
Stuart was charged in connection with the June 2007 fatal shooting of Jason Shane Plaster. Plaster's remains were found buried in March on property owned by Dennis Paul Benzie in White Oak.
A co-defendant, 44-year-old William Joseph Hughes, is charged with first-degree murder. His trial is set for Feb. 5, 2014.
Benzie is awaiting trial on drug-related charges.
NATIONAL ZOO-ANIMAL CARE
Animal care questioned at National Zoo amid cuts
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Smithsonian's National Zoo has released two internal reports detailing concerns about animal care for various creatures housed in the zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station area over the past year.
In one report released late Wednesday, a zoo committee found that animal care, accountability and organization are "severely lacking" in the conservation station. The committee investigated after a zoo volunteer raised concerns last July.
The panel examined the death of a Red River hog after significant weight loss and possible malnutrition.
Zoo Director Dennis Kelly says the animal keeper staff is stretched thin due to budget cuts over the past three years. Going forward, he is looking at ways for staff to focus more on animal care. That may mean reducing some animal talks and programs with the public.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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