Author: Jason Johnson

Zoo owner hit with 28 counts of animal cruelty

After repeated complaints from animal advocacy groups and scores of violations from federal and state agencies, the owner of the embattled Mobile Zoo, John Marks Hightower, was arrested Thursday on multiple charges of animal cruelty. The zoo, located on the roadside in Wilmer, has been the subject of numerous complaints and a pending lawsuit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over the conditions of the habitats its animals were kept in. The facility was also cited for a number of violations by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which culminated in a ruling from an...

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ADPH: Eight Mile residents “affected” by mercaptan leak

Nearly a year after 1,300 Eight Mile residents sent a list of medical complaints purportedly linked to a 2008 mercaptan spill to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the agency is saying the residents might be onto something. The complaints were compiled from a survey conducted of Eight Mile residents who reported a range of adverse health effects related to a persistent, noxious odor since a lightning strike caused an unknown amount of tertiary butyl mercaptan to spill at a processing facility owned by Mobile Gas. The chemical — added to odorless natural gas to detect leaks —...

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Witnesses in visa fraud case contacted in Mobile, Miami

A man accused of helping foreign nationals enter the country in exchange for cash narrowly avoided preparing for his upcoming trial behind bars after prosecutors found he’d tried to contact multiple government witnesses, including one who owns a business in Mobile. As Lagniappe previously reported, David J. Jimenez of Miami is one of the known defendants in a visa fraud conspiracy federal prosecutors believe led to dozens of Chinese individuals entering the United States on illegitimate visas set up by businesses in Alabama and Florida. Fairhope resident Christopher Allen Dean was also indicted in the conspiracy and pleaded guilty...

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Hastie pushes criminal appeal to 11th Circuit

Former Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie sent a gaggle of attorneys to Atlanta last month to continue a year-and-a-half-long appeal of her criminal conviction for improperly disseminating the email addresses of thousands of motorists. Adding litigators from Hand Arendall to the roster, the Hanley Law Firm representing Hastie appeared before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 24 to challenge her lone conviction from a 2015 trial that saw 16 other, more serious corruption allegations tossed out by a jury. Though there are multiple angles to Hastie’s appeal, it focuses on the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) she...

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Mobile County Commission halts raises for jail’s upper management

The Mobile County Commission voted Monday to shelve a proposal that would have passed recent pay hikes for law enforcement on to the upper management of Mobile Metro Jail — halting a potential $10,000 raise for warden Trey Oliver. The decision comes less than a month after commissioners approved a 7.5 percent raise for all Mobile County Sheriff’s Office deputies and corrections officers. However, Sheriff Sam Cochran asked the commission this week to extend the same pay increase to a handful of employees left out of the slate of raises in February, including some of the highest-grossing public safety...

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About The Author

Jason Johnson

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Jason Johnson originally hails from Elba, Alabama, and graduated summa cum laude from Troy University in 2011. He’s been a reporter for Lagniappe since 2014, where he covers an array of topics with a focus on county government, local courts and education. Previously, Jason worked for the Southeast Sun (Enterprise, Alabama), the Alexander City Outlook and 94.7 WTBF FM (Troy, Alabama). He’s also been recognized by the Alabama Press Association with designations in general excellence, photography and education reporting. In his spare time, Jason is a guitarist and drummer who enjoys the benefit of regularly playing with musicians better than himself.

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