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Small memorial adorns Sioux City site near where 2 teens were fatally stabbed

SIOUX CITY -- A makeshift street-corner memorial has been set up in a Morningside neighborhood to remember the two Sioux City teenagers fatally stabbed early Sunday morning. 

Felipe Negron Jr., 18, and Paiten Sullivan, 17, died from stab wounds sustained near the intersection of Jay Avenue and South Cecelia Street. Tran Walker, 18, also of Sioux City, is being held in the Woodbury County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder. 

The memorial, consisting of a few balloons, flowers and stuffed animals, was set up at the same intersection where the incident occurred. 

Services for Sullivan will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Concordia Lutheran Church. Arrangements are under the direction of Meyer Brothers Morningside Chapel. Funeral arrangements for Negron were pending. 

Go Fund Me accounts have been established to help defray the costs of Sullivan and Negron's funerals.

Negron and Sullivan were former East High School students, while Walker is a former West High School student, according to the Sioux City school district.

While the three rode together in a PT Cruiser Sunday night, Walker grew upset that Sullivan did not wish to continue their relationship, according to police. Walker told investigators he started stabbing Sullivan because he "wanted her to feel the pain he was feeling." When Negron tried to intervene, Walker stabbed him as well.

Both Negron and Sullivan were pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center from their injuries. 


Crime-and-courts
ATF raids 3 Ho-Chunk sites over tobacco records

WINNEBAGO, Nebraska | The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives swarmed three sites owned by Ho-Chunk Inc. Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into its tobacco operations.

Ho-Chunk, the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe, said the raid involved tobacco records and is the latest event in a "20-year state-tribal tax dispute." Federal officials declined comment on the investigation. 

ATF agents visited Ho-Chunk Inc.'s corporate office and the sites of HCI Distribution and Rock River Manufacturing early Tuesday morning.

More than 50 federal agents were observed outside a Ho-Chunk warehouse, and six semi-trucks were backed up to the loading dock, the Omaha World Herald reported, citing a witness.

The federal agents were seeking tobacco records, Ho-Chunk spokesman Sam Burrish confirmed. He said the company is "fully cooperating" with the activities. He said retail operations, which include Ho-Chunk's Pony Express convenience stores, remained open for regular business. 

Jerry Mennenga 

Burrish

A statement from Ho-Chunk said the corporation's ability to comment is limited since the investigation is ongoing but added that Ho-Chunk "is confident that in the end, tribal sovereignty will prevail."

An ATF spokesman did not return calls from The Journal requesting comment. A spokesman with the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Omaha said it is Department of Justice policy not to comment on ongoing investigations.

Established in 1994 as a way to generate greater economic opportunities for impoverished tribal members living on the northeast Nebraska reservation, Ho-Chunk has grown into a global venture with more than 1,000 employees and annual revenue exceeding $300 million from government contracting and diverse ventures in areas such as housing, construction, fuel, finance and human resources.

HCI Distribution, a Ho-Chunk subsidiary established in 1997, is currently the largest tribal cigarette and tobacco distributor in the U.S., according to its website. 

Morgan

Since 2014, Ho-Chunk has operated Rock River Manufacturing, a 15,000-square-foot factory that makes its own Fire Dance, One Spirit and Silver Cloud brands of cigarettes. Several lines of filtered cigars and pipe tobacco also are made there and marketed under the Fire Dance and One Spirit monikers. At its peak, Rock River Manufacturing produces 5,000 cigarettes a minute, or 1.1 billion per year.

The Rock River products are available in 26 other states and on most reservations nationwide. Ho-Chunk can't sell its locally-produced tobacco products off the reservation in Iowa, Nebraska or South Dakota. 

Ho-Chunk President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Morgan told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he had been advised not to comment publicly on Tuesday's raid due to the ongoing investigations, but he did say while there have been ongoing issues, the raid had come as a surprise. 

Ho-Chunk has been in conflict with government entities over whether certain record-keeping provisions of the Contraband Cigarettes Trafficking Act (CCTA) apply to tribal entities.

In August 2016, the corporation filed suit in federal court claiming that, due to the tribe's sovereignty, its inter-tribal records do not fall under the act and that the ATF cannot compel the tribe to produce them.

The suit followed a request by the ATF to inspect and copy the records. Ho-Chunk agreed to provide information for off-reservation transactions but not for inter-tribal trade transactions. 

A judge in May 2017 ruled the latter records do fall under the ATF's jurisdiction. Ho-Chunk filed an appeal in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. A judge has since denied a request by Ho-Chunk for an injunction that would have allowed the company to not produce the records during the appeal. 


Local
breaking
Convergys to shut down Sergeant Bluff call center, cut 178 jobs

Winkel

SERGEANT BLUFF | Sergeant Bluff will lose its largest employer when Convergys shuts down its Sergeant Bluff call center in April, eliminating nearly 180 jobs.

The affected employees were notified Tuesday of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company's decision.

“Well, I guess we’ll have to get busy and find somebody else for that building,” Sergeant Bluff Mayor Jon Winkel said Tuesday afternoon after hearing the news from a Journal reporter.

The contract work performed at the Sergeant Bluff site will be consolidated at other Convergys sites in the United States, company officials said.

“It’s a business decision that just took place,” spokesperson Brooke Beiting said. “We don’t take these things lightly, but it is something that is helping us serve our customers.”

Beiting said displaced workers are encouraged to apply for positions where they could work remotely from their homes or at other Convergys sites. By setting April 14 as the final day for the center, the company complies with a federal law that requiring employers to give at least 60 days notice of a major plant closing

Tuesday's announcement comes seven months after Convergys said it would add about 250 jobs at its offices in the Pioneer Mall, 102 Sergeant Square Drive. At the time, the company listed its local workforce at around 300. The new openings included health insurance agent positions.

The company provided contract services to several large firms, including some on the Fortune 500 list, but made it a practice not to identify them by name. Agents at the Sergeant Bluff center handled inbound customer service calls.

At its peak, Convergys expected employment in Sergeant Bluff exceeding 750.

As top executives at Long Lines in the 1980s, Winkel and Chuck Long built the 160,000-square-foot call center that Convergys now occupies. After signing the nation's first "equal access" agreement with MCI, Sergeant Bluff Long Lines became the first local phone company to enter the long-distance telephone business. The deal became the model for the nation in the aftermath of the breakup of AT&T's phone monopoly.

Long Lines later sold the Sergeant Bluff call center to MCI. The 600-employee center closed in 2006 after Verizon acquired MCI.

Local business leaders recruited Stream Global Services, a third-party contract services firm, to fill the vacated space in Sergeant Bluff.

Convergys acquired the center in 2014 as part of an $820 million acquisition of Stream. 

Journal staff writer Ty Rushing contributed to this story.

 

Morgan


Winkel