AP top news in Iowa at 3:58 p.m. CDT

Iowa radio station protests denial of court accessIOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Coralville radio station is protesting a judge’s decision to bar it from covering a trial that would have been open to newspaper and television cameramen.

KCJJ owner Steve Soboroff said his station planned to broadcast Wednesday’s trial of Jeff Waite on a misdemeanor assault charge in Johnson County.

He says court staff told its reporter that Magistrate Judge Lynn Rose wouldn’t allow him to use a microphone or other audio equipment.

KCJJ had applied for permission to cover the case last month under Iowa’s expanded media coverage rules. Rose entered an order Tuesday limiting courtroom coverage to one still camera and one video camera with a microphone — but no radio equipment.

Soboroff says he believes that’s illegal, and he’ll pursue legal action. Rose didn’t immediately return a message.


Iowa agrees with EPA to boost farm inspectionsDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials will inspect more livestock farms and strictly enforce penalties when manure leaks into rivers or streams under a federal agreement signed Wednesday stemming from a years-long dispute about enforcing the Clean Water Act.

The agreement comes about a year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threatened to take over enforcement of the federal law if state officials didn’t do a better job. The dispute stemmed back years and centered on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ refusal to regularly inspect the state’s thousands of large cattle and hog farms.

“Iowa is one of the world’s most productive centers for the meat that feeds this nation and the world, and it also happens to be in the middle of the two great river basins in North America,” said Karl Brooks, the EPA regional administrator. “That’s why it’s really important that Iowa get a first-class water permit program that really matches its role in the center of the United States and this gets Iowa there.”

The agreement requires on-site inspections of large livestock farms with more than 1,000 cows or 2,500 hogs. That would include about 3,200 farms in Iowa.

Some smaller farms with at least 300 cows or 750 hogs also may be inspected if they’ve had recent manure spills or are located near streams or rivers. The plan also requires the DNR to evaluate all other medium-sized livestock operations — about 4,800 in Iowa — to be sure they’re meeting regulations.

“This work plan agreement clarifies program implementation and is a reflection of Iowans working together on a commonsense solution that will encourage best practices and promote open communication between affected Iowans and the DNR,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp.

Under the agreement, the state also must adopt new regulations that comply with the federal Clean Water Act within a year. That includes rules requiring new farms to be set specific distances from rivers and streams as outlined in the federal law and tougher enforcement that broadens the number of farms subject to fines and penalties for failure to comply with regulations.


Man convicted in death pleads guilty to vandalismWATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A 21-year-old northern Iowa man in prison for vehicular homicide has pleaded guilty to vandalizing vehicles.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports (http://bit.ly/17qOgdchttp://bit.ly/17qOgdc ) Alex Pothast pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal mischief in Black Hawk County District Court and was given a 10-year-suspended sentence.

In July, Pothast was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty of homicide by vehicle while drunk and vehicular homicide by reckless driving.

Pothast, of Clarksville, crashed a car in 2010, killing 18-year-old passenger Joshua Young, of Waverly.

On Monday, Pothast admitted destroying property with two friends. He was out on bond on the more serious charges at the time.

The sentence will run concurrent with the other prison term.

Pothast also was fined $1,000 and ordered to make restitution for the damages.


Officials: Mass. man tried to get Iowa man’s moneyDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Treasurer’s Office says a Massachusetts man attempted to claim a deceased Iowa man’s money as his own.

State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald said in a news release Wednesday that Kevin Upshaw was sentenced in July to two years in Massachusetts state prison for trying to pass himself off as the trustee of an Iowa man’s estate in 2011.

Officials say Upshaw presented forged documents to the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt program in connection with the trust, which was valued at more than $135,800. Additional information was not released.

The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt helps people find unclaimed property, usually through savings and checking accounts, stocks and life insurance policies. The program has returned more $166 million in unclaimed property since it began in 1983.


Man appeals HIV notification law convictionDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa man with HIV sentenced to 25 years in prison for not telling a sex partner that he carried the virus appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Nick Rhoades, 39, met and had sex with a man he had chatted with on the Internet in 2008. He was convicted in 2009 and is currently on probation after his sentence was reduced a year later. He is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life unless the conviction is overturned.

Rhoades’ attorneys say the conviction should be thrown out because his defense attorney did not fully understand the law and should have never advised him to plead guilty. Rhoades claims he was not properly questioned by the district court judge about whether he understood the law when he pleaded guilty. His attorneys also argued Rhoades did not violate the specific definition of the state’s law.

“Even though Rhoades used a condom in the sexual encounter and even though he never intended to expose, and in fact did not expose, infectious bodily fluids to his partner he was advised to plead guilty,” said Christopher Clark, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a national organization that fights for civil rights for lesbians, gay men, transgender people and those with HIV.

Iowa passed a law in 1998 that makes it a felony for someone with HIV to engage in intimate contact with another person. That is defined as the intentional exposure of the body of one person to a bodily fluid of another person in a manner that could result in the transmission of HIV. The law does not require that the other party become infected.

Clark argued that Rhoades, who lived in Plainfield when he was charged and now lives near Des Moines, did not intentionally expose the other man to bodily fluids in a way that could have transmitted HIV because he practiced safe sex by using a condom.

“This was a wildly inappropriate prosecution by the state and that’s why we’re here making our arguments today and challenging it,” he said in an interview after Wednesday’s hearing.

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