Defunct funeral home employee charged over ‘pre-need’ funds

Updated 10:12 am, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 HOBART, Ind. (AP) — The former treasurer of a defunct northern Indiana funeral home faces felony charges for allegedly misusing funds set aside for customers' funerals. A Lake County judge entered a not guilty plea Monday on 67-year-old Jacqueline Kraft's behalf. She faces theft, corrupt business influence and other charges. Prosecutors allege that between 2003 and 2015 customers paid Kraft Funeral Home funds intended for their funerals or cremations when they died. But court documents say customers' money was in multiple cases never deposited into a "pre-need" fund. Latest Houston & Texas News Now Playing: Now Playing Dad Pranks Daughter With Fake High School Acceptance Letter Storyful Houston-area students involved in bus crash on Interstate 10 in Alabama Jesus Tejeda/Facebook Bus carrying high school students crashes into ravine Fox 13 Tampa Bus carrying Houston students plunges into Alabama ravine Fox5DC John Cena And Nikki Bella Nail It At 'Blockers' SXSW Premiere CelebWire Leslie Mann Just Wants To Laugh At SXSW CelebWire Emily Blunt At SXSW Premiere For 'A Quiet Place' CelebWire U-God releasing biography, new album Fox 26 Houston LIfetime terms for U.S. presidents Fox 26 Houston 2018 SXSW Red Carpet And Behind The Scenes Of 'Blockers' CelebWire Michael Bay Experiences 'A Quiet Place' At SXSW CelebWire Picking your March Madness brackets Fox 26 Houston Girl thrown to the ground Fox 26 Houston Houston City Councilman Larry Green laid to rest Fox 26 Houston Limiting spring break screen time Fox 26 Houston The Debrief - Austin package explosions Fox 26 Houston Kraft allegedly told investigators she intended to put the money into that fund. A message seeking comment was left Tuesday for her attorney. The Post-Tribune reports the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency has received 16 requests for more than $86,000 in restitution from the business' Continue Reading

Successful businesses need proactive leadership – and so does Congress

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.) Thomas Bateman, University of Virginia and Mike Crant, University of Notre Dame (THE CONVERSATION) Imagine you’re speeding along on a highway. Suddenly, the traffic ahead of you slows, forcing you to hit the breaks. Eventually you arrive at the source of the bottleneck: a mattress lying in the right lane. One by one, your fellow motorists simply crept around it. No one stopped to move it off the road to relieve the congestion. Why would so many people fail to take action and (easily) fix the problem that slowed traffic to a crawl? People – whether motorists, business leaders or lawmakers – are simply not very proactive. By that we mean humans have a tendency to keep doing what they’ve been doing, maintaining the status quo rather than breaking the flow and creating a better future. In the mattress example, it means driving around the obstruction rather than removing it, allowing the problem to continue indefinitely. As researchers of organization behavior and leadership, we have long studied the nature of proactive behavior and how it helps people perform better at their jobs. Failing to behave proactively can be consequential as well, often negatively. For an apt illustration, look no further than the three-day federal shutdown that resulted from Congress’ failure to pass a budget. What it really means to be proactive People commonly think being proactive means simply starting sooner rather than later, not procrastinating, or taking initiative to get work done. But it is far more than that. Your behavior is proactive when: - you choose it yourself rather than comply with external demands - you execute strategically more than mindlessly - you are future-focused rather than anchored in the present or past - your intention is to change something for the better, thus to create a better future. Continue Reading

Teens start business to fund Olympic dreams

Logan Witte (left) of Islip Terrace, and Adam Rotbart (right) of Central Islip, train at EGN International Karate in West Hempstead on Dec. 20, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara The path to the Olympic Games goes through Long Island craft fairs for teenagers Adam Rotbart and Logan Witte, who are hoping to gain spots on the first U.S. team to compete in karate. To make their dreams a reality, the teens have started a small woodworking business, creating gifts to sell and help fund their travel to national and international competitions — a requirement if they are to be ranked internationally and qualify for the 2020 games in Tokyo. Rotbart, 17, of Central Islip, and Witte, 16, of Islip Terrace, met 10 years ago in a karate class. The sport cemented their friendship, which has, in turn, fueled each boy’s talent and drive to succeed. “We’ve always pushed each other,” Rotbart said. “When one of us was down, the other one picked us up. If there was something heavy and I couldn’t lift it, there wouldn’t be a word said — he [Witte] would just help me.” The International Olympic Committee announced last year that it was adding karate to the 2020 program — a call to action for Rotbart and Witte, both members of the USA Karate Junior National Team. Officials have not yet finalized the process for selecting Olympic competitors, although international rankings probably will play some role in how athletes will quality, said Phil Hampel, chief executive of the USA National Karate-Do Federation in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which is affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee. “We’ve got to try to make it,” Witte said. Using their dads’ tools, the teens started cranking out holiday season gifts to sell, including wooden snowmen statues, reindeer, and a series of signs pointing the way to the North Pole. Their mothers had experience crafting and helped the Continue Reading

NYC needs funding for street redesign, an NYPD crackdown on traffic violations to prevent pedestrian deaths

Pedestrian, bicyclist and hit-and-run deaths were up in 2016. Overall traffic deaths, however, were down slightly in 2016. Still, the fact that some Vision Zero statistics are moving in the right direction provides no solace for the friends and families of the 229 people killed in the city last year. Adding to their pain is the fact that most of those deaths could have been prevented with better street design and enforcement. So far, 2017 is off to an even worse start with 11 New Yorkers killed in traffic in the first 13 days of the year. What's fueling these statistics is reckless driving on streets that are designed to encourage deadly speeding. To turn those numbers around, Mayor de Blasio must invest more to redesign known dangerous corridors and intersections and make traffic enforcement more equitable and effective across the five boroughs. The most reliable way to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries is by making physical street safety upgrades like pedestrian refuge islands, protected bike lanes and dedicated crossing signals to protect pedestrians from turning vehicles. There are hundreds of corridors and intersections around the five boroughs that the city identified as especially dangerous "Vision Zero priority locations" two years ago. These high-crash areas have been the site of most of the deaths we've seen in 2016 and so far this year. That's why the city must allocate more funding for redesigns during the upcoming budgeting process. This is particularly essential in light of a recent decision from the State's highest court, which ruled that the city can be held liable in connection with crashes on streets where officials have failed to adequately study and implement traffic calming measures. On Vision Zero enforcement, we are glad to hear that NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill is committed to deepening his department's work to change the culture of reckless driving. In Continue Reading

Flushing businesses need local small business development center, leaders say

Flushing business owners face a pressing need for advice in their own languages, said experts and lawmakers who held a Congressional hearing at Queens College on Tuesday. The federal Small Business Administration operates two centers in Queens to help businesses obtain loans and federal contracts, but the borough’s 68,000 Asian-American-owned businesses would be better served with a new facility in Flushing to replace the patchwork of existing Chinese-language programs, panelists said. “When these folks show up at the door of technical advisers, there must be culturally-competent advisers there,” said Joyce Moy, executive director of the Asian and Asian-American Research Institute at CUNY. Local business owners often struggle to fill out forms in English or figure out how to secure funding or loans available to them. “I’m really glad to hear that the government pays attention to us, especially the minorities, because it’s been neglected for very long,” said Lily Chang, a Flushing Allstate Insurance franchise owner who attended Tuesday’s session. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Bronx man needs funds to save basketball tournament to honor late grandmother

The tattoo that Gabriel McCabe had etched on his shoulder to honor his grandmother six years ago isn’t enough — now he’s asking for help to honor her on the basketball court. McCabe launched a Kickstarter campaign at the end of June to raise $1,100 for a 60-player, 8-team tournament at the Spuyten Duyvil playground basketball courts in August. If he reaches his goal, the spectacle this August would honor his grandmother, Iris Fazio, who died eight years ago from cancer at 83, and who introduced him to the sport. “She bought me and my friends a basketball when I was six or seven,” said McCabe, 26, who moved to the Bronx when he was 17. “My mom was a single mother and she worked all the time so my grandmother would take me to all the basketball games. She would come watch me shoot around and play.” Besides shooting hoops on the court next to his Bronx house, McCabe played at Churchill High School in Manhattan, then moved on to the Curry College Colonels in Boston, where he played point guard. Two years ago, McCabe organized a six-team basketball tournament in his grandmother’s name at the Spuyten Duyvil courts that drew spectators from across the neighborhood. “Last time, I just did it myself. I just randomly went to vendors last minute and tried to get the money, and I didn’t know how it was gonna turn out,” he said. “But now I want to have enough money to really do it right.” McCabe couldn’t organize the tournament last year because of his hectic schedule as a film production assistant, but now he’s circling back around to do it again. The money he raises will pay for jerseys, referees and trophies, all of which he couldn’t afford for the games two years ago. McCabe was already halfway to his Kickstarter goal a week after posting his project on June 24, and he has six teams of neighborhood boys who have Continue Reading

Small business loans are specialty for

A couple of years into operating Whisk Culinary, Zak Groh liked what was happening with his business.Sales were rising and major Milwaukee corporations were being added to the list of firms ordering in-flight fare from Whisk Culinary, a caterer that makes meals and snacks for private jet passengers who appreciate fresh food, presentation and eco-friendly packaging.Groh, a chef and founder of Whisk Culinary, didn’t need a huge loan — only $20,000 in working capital to add staff and expand his kitchen operation in West Allis. However, because the company is in the food industry and the loan amount was small, it wasn’t attractive to banks, which prefer financing less-risky businesses and making larger loans.“I had been doing my best to put something together with traditional lenders, but being a food business, pretty much no one wants to touch you because you fall into the category of a restaurant,” Groh said.An accountant suggested he try, a young Milwaukee-based financial technology company that works with banks by handling the smaller business loans banks typically avoid.Groh applied at the website for a loan and soon was talking with co-founder Michael Adam, a former M&I Bank and Associated Bank lender, who wanted to know more about Whisk Culinary and the private aviation in-flight cuisine business.“It was an interview in the sense of what you’re doing, where you’re at and a little bit of my background,” Groh said.Whisk Culinary got a $20,000 loan, and since then, the company has seen annual sales quadruple to about $800,000, Groh said.Although it was the kind of loan banks eschew, it was right in the wheelhouse of at the end of 2013 by Adam,'s goal is to be the No. 1 referral partner that banks turn to when an existing customer or potential new business borrower needs a small loan that doesn’t fit Continue Reading

What you need to know about Milwaukee Startup Week

If you're in the midst of launching a new business venture or just brainstorming, you can get advice from experts at the second annual Milwaukee Startup Week, which will run Nov. 6-12 with more than 40 events. Milwaukee is one of three U.S. cities to host a Startup Week program leading to the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India, Nov. 28-30. Along with events in Houston and Pittsburgh, Milwaukee Startup Week will be the "Road to GES."As part of the "Road to GES" partnership, Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will headline the opening day, Nov. 6, at 8 a.m. at Ward 4 (333 N. Plankinton Ave.).Here's a breakdown of some of the key events during Milwaukee Startup Week. The entire calendar can be viewed at Listen — they've done it beforeThese entrepreneurs and experts have been there and done that. Two longtime entrepreneurs with experience growing companies will share their experiences at "Trials, Tribulations and Lessons Learned in Funding and Growing Health Care/Tech Startups in Wisconsin." The session with Loren Peterson and Steven Visuri starts at noon Nov. 7 at Concordia University Wisconsin's Waukesha campus. Avoid any legal snafus with a new startup. The Marquette University Law School will host "Startup Law Essentials: Best Practices When Forming and Launching a New Venture" at noon Nov. 8 at Eckstein Hall. Learn how to keep books with U.S. Bank on Nov. 10. At "Financial Management for a Small Business," they'll cover the basics such as financial management for a small business, startup funding, financing working capital and other topics. The event begins at noon at the Hudson Business + Lounge in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. Turn a side hustle into a business as a software developer turned entrepreneur. Nick Gartmann from RokkinCat will host a question-and-answer session, "Practical Advice on Continue Reading

CHINATOWN GETS LEFT IN THE DUST. So close to WTC, yet so far from needed funds

Only blocks from Ground Zero, Chinatown has been treated almost as an afterthought in the massive 9/11 recovery program for lower Manhattan. Despite its proximity to the fallen twin towers and its obvious need for assistance, Chinatown has received less grant money and loans than any other affected neighborhood, according to an ongoing Daily News investigation into how the $21. 4 billion federal aid package to New York was spent. Mom-and-pop shops and restaurants, the lifeblood of Chinatown's economy, continue to struggle to survive. Also, hundreds of small garment factories have closed since Sept. 11, 2001, and the garment industry, a major employer, has been left to fend for itself. The News has previously documented repeated examples of how small businesses were neglected or awarded small amounts of recovery aid while big businesses - some with less urgent needs and better political connections - garnered the lion's share of the disaster aid. Last week, more than four years after the terrorist attacks, the state designated Chinatown as an Empire Zone, allowing qualified businesses that add jobs to avoid most state and local taxes for up to 10 years. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents lower Manhattan, said the designation came "after four years of battling partisan politics" and said the long wait represented a "lack of leadership" by Gov. Pataki. Robert Weber, director of the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative, called the belated measure "the last great hope for the garment industry and light manufacturing" in the neighborhood. He added, however: "This is part of the solution but not a total answer. " Indeed, some local leaders expressed concern that Chinatown has had to wait too long for too little. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., charged with dispensing $2. 7 billion to redevelop Ground Zero and the surrounding neighborhood, has allocated $39. 6 million in federal Community Development Block Grant money for all of Continue Reading

To fund the subways, charge drivers more: And a vehicle-miles-traveled tax should be part of the equation

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs about $32 billion over the next five years to repair, replace and improve its facilities, notably the vast and essential mass transit system. It only has about $13 billion. The $19 billion hole requires a new way of thinking about how we fund mass transit — and specifically how much drivers of cars and trucks should pay. Advances in technology make it possible to take a new look at the issue. Drivers already pay about 11% of MTA mass transit costs through bridge and tunnel tolls, state license and registration fees, and gasoline taxes. The Citizens Budget Commission I lead recommends drivers cover 25%. Our funding model, known as “50-25-25,” would have transit fares cover half the cost, general tax subsidies another 25% and motor vehicle cross-subsidies 25%. The reason to raise the motor vehicle drivers’ portion is twofold: First, drivers benefit from mass transit, which reduces congestion by taking other drivers off the road; second, motor vehicles have harmful environmental consequences — air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions — that should be reduced through financial incentives. Vehicle emissions now constitute roughly one-third of all greenhouse gases. How might motor vehicle drivers pick up more of the tab? The best strategy is for the State of New York to create a new revenue stream to support borrowing that fills the gap in the capital plan and contributes 25% of the MTA’s operating costs as well. The total needed new revenue from this source is about $2.1 billion annually. A recent Citizens Budget Commission report analyzes four options for generating sufficient additional revenue from motor vehicle user fees: increased registration fees; a higher gasoline tax; new tolling policies, and a new “vehicle-miles-traveled” (VMT) tax. The first two options have limited potential to address a funding gap of this magnitude. Setting them at Continue Reading