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KFDM obtains copy of BISD's request for review of TEA takeover decision

BEAUMONT -  by Scott Lawrence


KFDM News has obtained a copy of the Beaumont ISD official request for a formal and informal review of Education Commissioner Michael Williams' decision to replace the BISD school board with a board of managers, replace the superintendent, put a conservator in place, and lower the district's accreditation.


Click here to read the official BISD request for a formal and informal review of the TEA takeover decision.    


In its request for a review, Christopher Tritico, the attorney representing BISD, states the district challenges each and every finding, statement, legal conclusion, and/or action contained or recommended within the Commissioner's letter of April 14, 2014. The district is requesting a hearing to formalize its challenge.


The notice of appeal states "Beaumont ISD further objects that the Commissioner is acting without legal authority and has exceeded his statutory authority. Beaumont ISD further objects that the procedures adopted and implemented by the Texas Education Agency in matters of this nature violate the separation of powers clause, the due course of law provisions, and the open courts provisions."


If the district loses the appeal, the new board of managers and superintendent will be in place by June 15, according to the Commissioner, and remain in place for up to two years.


Former cheerleaders sue over 'jiggle test'

Associated Press


Five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders on Tuesday sued the team over a pay system they say had them working hundreds of hours for free at games and at mandatory public appearances at which they were subjected to groping and sexual comments, and one said they had to take a jiggle test so their boss could see how firm their bodies were.


The state Supreme Court lawsuit is the third filed this year against a National Football League team by cheerleaders. The Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals also have pending wage battles.


The case against the Bills says its cheerleaders, the Buffalo Jills, are wrongly classified as independent contractors and are subjected to policies that violate the state's $8 per hour minimum wage law and other workplace rules. Two members of the Jills squad held a news conference Tuesday with their attorney, Frank Dolce.


"We are Bills fans," Dolce said. "We definitely want our organization and other organizations in the NFL to respect the rights of these cheerleaders."


The Bills' cheerleaders aren't paid for games or practices and have to make 20-35 appearances, most of which are unpaid, at community and charity events each season, the lawsuit said. On top of that, they have to pay $650 for their uniforms and are not reimbursed for travel or other expenses, the cheerleaders said.


The time and expense, as well as rules governing their personal lives, far exceeded what they signed on for, the women said.


The civil action, which seeks unspecified back pay and legal fees, names Stejon Productions Corp., which assumed management of the Jills in 2011, along with former manager Citadel Communications Co. and the Buffalo Bills.


Stejon President Stephanie Mateczun said she could not comment on the claims. Buffalo Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said the team's policy is not to discuss pending litigation. A Citadel spokesman could not be reached for comment.


The cheerleaders are identified only by their first names and last initials in the lawsuit, which cites a provision that allows plaintiffs to remain anonymous "where identification poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm."


Their complaint describes "demeaning and degrading treatment," including being required to wear bikinis at various events such as an annual golf tournament at which cheerleaders were "auctioned off like prizes" and subjected to "degrading sexual comments and inappropriate touching."


Mateczun, the cheerleaders said, controlled everything from their hair and nail polish color to what they could post on Facebook.


"Everything from standing in front of us with a clipboard having us do a jiggle test to see what parts of our body were jiggling," cheerleader Alyssa U. said, "and if that was something that she saw, you were getting benched."


Alyssa U. estimated she was paid a total of $420 during the 2012-13 football season. Another cheerleader, Maria P., said she received $105.


The cheerleaders and their attorney said they hope their legal action leads to policy changes within the Bills' organization that ensure future cheerleaders are paid and treated better.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Conversation with the Commissioner

HOUSTON - KFDM News is in Houston for a conversation with Michael Williams, the Texas Commissioner of Education.


Williams is visiting the Region Four Education Service Center there and his office offered the opportunity to interview Williams on Wednesday about BISD and other matters related to education in Texas.


Watch for Justin Hinton's report at 6 and 10.

Police investigating shooting that wounds man in buttocks
Officers responded to reports of a shooting around noon Wednesday in the 1100 block of Avenue A in Beaumont.

After arriving at the scene officers detained several people at a residence and a male victim was later located a block away in the 1200 block of Orange Street with a wound to the buttocks, police stated.

The wounded man was transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital by Beaumont EMS and detectives are speaking with witnesses and are currently conducting an investigation.

No names have been released at this time and the victim's condition is currently unknown.

Three relatives of murder suspect charged with hiding him from investigators

SOUTHEAST TEXAS - Law enforcement officers have charged three relatives of murder suspect Cody Lewis with helping to hide Lewis from investigators who were searching for him.


According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the relatives knew that Lewis was wanted on an outstanding warrant for murder. Those charged with Hindering Apprehension of a Fugitive are cousins of Lewis. They include Hope Pennington, 27, of Groveton, and Cedric Edwards, 31, of Groveton. Both were booked into the Trinity County Jail. Their bonds are $15,000 each. Terrance Edwards, 33, of Crockett, was booked into the Houston County Jail. His bond is $7,500.  The Jefferson County Warrant Division executed the arrest warrants.


Cody Lewis was taken into custody at about 7 p.m. April 17 in Pennington, near Lufkin, following a Crime Stoppers tip.  Deputies say Lewis ran from a home into a wooded area. After a short search, Lewis was taken into custody.


Lewis, 27, is charged with murder in the death of Kevin Moyer, 53, of Dallas. Moyer's body was found April 5. He was naked, wrapped in a sheet in the back seat of his car on South China Road in rural Jefferson County. Investigators say he died from traumatic injuries.

Christopher Harmon, 21, of Beaumont, and Yiannis Mihail, 31, of Beaumont, are also behind bars in the Jefferson County Jail, each charged with Moyer's murder.



(Previous story) JEFFERSON COUNTY- by Haley Bull

A probable cause affidavit obtained by KFDM News is revealing new information about the circumstances surrounding a man's killing after deputies found his body in rural Jefferson County.


21-year-old Arthur Christopher Harmon and 31-year-old Yiannis Mihail are both charged with the man's murder and are in the Jefferson County Jail on $1 million bonds each.


Investigators are looking for 27-year-old Cody Jamar Lewis. He had been facing charges of tampering with physical evidence. Investigators have now filed a probable cause affidavit seeking a murder charge against Lewis.


The probable cause affidavit shows the murder started with a robbery.


The investigation began April 5 with a 911 call, leading sheriff's deputies to a field off South China Road in rural Jefferson County. They found a man's body naked, wrapped in a sheet in the backseat of his Volkswagen Jetta.


Investigators said 53-year old Kevin Moyer of Dallas died of traumatic injuries.


According to the probable cause affidavit, one of the suspects called a deputy while investigators were still at the scene.


The affidavit states 21-year-old Arthur Christopher Harmon told the deputy he and 31-year-old Yiannis Mihail had information about the death. The pair met with investigators at the Sheriff's Office and told them Moyer wasn't killed on South China Road but at their house at 2565 Buchanan Street in Beaumont.


According to the affidavit, Mihail "admitted that he, Harmon and Cody Lewis lured 'John Doe' to the residence on Buchanan to rob him. During the robbery the 'John Doe' was killed. Mihail, Harmon and Lewis took 'John Doe's' body put it in his car and took it to South China Road and dumped it. After dumping the body and the vehicle they drove away."


John Doe was later identified by a medical examiner as Moyer.


According to the court document, a deputy pulled the suspects over for speeding after the suspects left the scene. The document states "prior to the officer stopping them Lewis threw out a trash bag on the side of the road which contained blood soaked sheets and clothing of the victim."


Moyer was the greater Houston representative for Doris-Sanders Ltd., a wholesale showroom in Dallas for textiles and home decor. The company president told KFDM News Moyer began working for them in late February or early March. She said Moyer was kind and customers adored him. She said the Wednesday evening before his murder, Moyer traveled from Houston to Beaumont for appointments the next day.


"That's our understanding that he was in the area on business. Again, that's part of the investigation, that's ongoing," Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Rod Carroll said.


Carroll said investigators believe Harmon and Mihail were in a relationship. Investigators are trying to determine what connection, if any, Moyer had to the men.


"Be aware of who you associate with. I think that's the key to any crime, especially in an incident such as this, is be aware of who you're with. Be aware of who you associate with and realize there's always that potential of people that you don't know," Carroll said.


Investigators are still looking for 27-year-old Cody Jamar Lewis and consider him dangerous. Again, he'd been charged with tampering with physical evidence but investigators have now filed a probable cause affidavit seeking a murder charge against him as well. They also warn that anyone helping hide him can be charged with harboring a fugitive.


If you have any information about Lewis' location or the crime you can leave an anonymous tip through Crimestoppers at 833-TIPS. You could earn up to a $1,000 reward.


PAPD looking for attackers in 3 home invasions in less than an hour

PORT ARTHUR - The Port Arthur Police Department is trying to determine if there's a link between three home invasions that took place in less than one hour early Wednesday morning. Police say in each case the attackers had guns. Officers haven't made any arrests.


Watch KFDM News and stay with for updates. 


The home invasions were between 1:13 a.m. and 1:59 a.m. Tuesday. The first one was reported at 1:13 a.m. in the 5100 block of 4th Street.


At 1:31 a.m. officers were called to another home invasion in the 2900 block of 19th Street.


The third home invasion was reported at 1:59 a.m. in the 3700 block of 5th Street.


Police say in each case the attackers forced their way into the homes and used guns in the robberies. No one was hurt.



Roommates found dead at Houston nursing home

HOUSTON - by Andrew Horansky/KHOU 11 News and


Houston police are investigating the deaths of two men at a nursing home on the northside.

Police said it wasn't clear what took place at the residence, but the men apparently died from blunt force trauma.

It was reported around 3 a.m. Wednesday at Lexington Nursing and Rehabilitation along the North Loop near Ella. The victims were roommates at the facility, police said.

Police said the men had two other roommates. One of those men told police he woke up to find the men dead. The other man was detained by police for questioning.

Officers said all of the roommates range between 50 and 70 years old.


This story comes to us through KFDM's media partnership with KHOU 11 News in Houston.

Seminar for parents of special needs children

JEFFERSON COUNTY - The Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association is hosting a free seminar Thursday for parents of special needs children.

The legal workshop for parents of autistic and special needs children will be held at the Shorkey Center, 855 S. Eighth Street, from 6-8 p.m.

You can RSVP at (409) 838-6568.

This workshop is open to the public and free babysitting services will be provided.

Organizers say the seminar is expected to have a significant impact on the community by benefiting the parents, family members, educators and others who work with special needs children. The seminar will inform parents, educators and others with information to ensure that their children are receiving a "free and appropriate" education in the public schools. Also, the workshop will help parents of special needs children make appropriate estate planning decisions.

Home invasions in Port Arthur
The Port Arthur Police Department responded to three separate home invasion robberies between the hours of 1:13 am and 1:59 am.  The first report was at 1:13 am in the 5100 block of 4th St. At 1:31am, officers were dispatched to the 2900 block of 19th St in reference to another. At 1:59am, officers were sent to the 3700 block of 5th St to another home invasion.  In all occurrences, the suspects forced entry into the homes and used firearms.  No victims were injured.  It is unknown if the crimes were connected.  No suspects have been taken into custody.

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Sales of new US homes plunge 14.5 percent in March

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans buying new homes plummeted in March to the slowest pace in seven months, a sign that real estate's spring buying season is off to a weak start.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Some customers are still a little leery about swiping their credit cards after the massive theft of credit card numbers from Target this past holiday season.

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