State Briefs 9/11/08

Police look for man who allegedly cooked bird

ROCKFORD – A man who allegedly placed his girlfriend’s live pet bird in the oven and cooked it Monday night or early Tuesday morning is still on the loose.

Frederick T. Ball, 25, is wanted on a warrant for aggravated cruelty to animals, police said. His bond is set at $200,000.

Police and fire investigators also want to question Ball in connection to his girlfriend’s apartment catching fire just hours later.

Firefighters have yet to determine the cause of the blaze. Damage was estimated at $40,000.

The Rockford Fire Department responded to the fire at 4:25 a.m.

The two-unit structure had one apartment above the other. The occupant in the lower apartment was displaced because of water and smoke damage from the upper apartment.

The American Red Cross assisted a mother and her three teenage children with housing, fire officials said.

Rockford Register Star

Foul play ruled out in woman’s death

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield woman found in her yard Aug. 15 died after falling and hitting her head on concrete, a detective told a coroner’s jury Wednesday.

The jury ruled accidental the death of Pamuela D. Stieren, 45, who was pronounced dead in her front.

The cause of death was a brain injury consistent with a fall, and Stieren had a history of drug and alcohol abuse that apparently contributed to her fall, according to authorities.

Police found no evidence of foul play or violence in connection with the death, said Springfield police detective Scott Kincaid. Stieren was last seen late the night before, when she was intoxicated, jittery and having trouble keeping her balance, witnesses said.

Detectives determined Stieren had been in the back yard at some point and fell on concrete landscaping, striking her head. They found a trail of blood from there to the northeast corner of the house, and then westward toward the front of the house. Stieren’s body was found at the northwest corner.

State Journal-Register

Rash of accidents involving school buses

ROCKFORD — Three accidents involving school buses have been reported in Rockford this week.

The driver of a school bus toting 51 children was cited for improper lane use Tuesday morning after a minor accident at Spring Creek Road and Hickory Avenue.

Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies say the driver, Denise Combs of Rockford, was stopped eastbound in the southernmost lane of Spring Creek to pick up a student when she pulled away from the curb. Police say Combs struck another eastbound vehicle, a 2002 Ford Taurus, about 10:36 a.m. No injuries were reported.

A school bus was involved in another accident Tuesday morning, this one at 7:04 a.m. at the intersection of Kilburn Avenue and North Meridian Road. Sheriff’s police said no one was injured and no one was ticketed when the bus and car proceeded into the intersection at the same time.

On Monday, three school children and a bus driver were sent to area hospitals to be checked out after a bus-car collision at Crosby Street and Skylark Drive. No serious injuries were reported.

Rockford Register Star

Man wins verdict against KPMG over tax dispute

PEORIA — A jury handed down a $17.6 million verdict against an accounting firm Wednesday for not giving better tax advice to a local philanthropist trading in government securities 20 years ago.

The award, however, was far less than the $61 million Gary Bielfeldt sought from KPMG, his former accounting firm.

The jury got an education in securities trading during the 2 1/2-week trial that focused on the mid-1980s, when Bielfeldt was moving millions of dollars worth of securities. The jury deliberated about four hours before returning its verdict.

Bielfeldt made huge profits through the late 1980s before running into a series of down years. In 1991, he tried to get nearly $90 million back from the Internal Revenue Service, saying the trades he made were dealer-based. The IRS balked, and the case went to court. A federal tax judge backed the IRS. Bielfeldt appealed but was again denied by an appellate justice.

The philanthropist blamed KPMG, accusing the firm of professional misconduct, and claiming they should have told him to change his status from a "trader" to a "dealer." It matters because a dealer is allowed to write off ordinary losses against his federal taxes, while a trader - which is an individual trading for his own personal gain - cannot.

Journal Star, Peoria