NJ man pleads guilty to smuggling box turtles from Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to smuggling more than 1,000 box turtles that were illegally collected in Oklahoma.

Court records show 26-year-old William T. Gangemi of Freehold, New Jersey, was accused of violating a federal law against the sale or purchase of illegally collected wildlife with a market value over $350.

Gangemi was allegedly part of a syndicate of wildlife smugglers involved in the purchase and transportation of three-toed and western box turtles from Oklahoma to New Jersey. The collection of both types of turtles for commercial purposes is illegal in Oklahoma.

Prosecutors say Gangemi pleaded guilty Wednesday and will be sentenced on Jan. 27. Records show Gangemi was sentenced to two years' probation in June after pleading guilty to similar charges in South Carolina.

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Rating agency upgrades Oklahoma's economic outlook

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One of the nation's top rating agencies is upgrading the state's economic outlook from "stable" to "positive" due in large part to the 2018 passage of tax hikes that have resulted in budget surpluses and increased reserves.

Moody's Investors Service announced Wednesday it was also affirming the state's Aa2 rating, the agency's third highest rating.

The agency's positive outlook indicates it expects strong fiscal management and a commitment to increasing reserves. The agency also cited the state's relatively low state debt and pension burden.

Oklahoma's new Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he wants the state to set aside $2 billion in reserves to help better prepare the state for its next economic downturn.

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Oklahoma regent resigns after reelection as vice-chair

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents has resigned shortly after being reelected vice chairman of the panel overseeing the OU system that includes Cameron and Rogers State universities.

Renzi Stone posted his immediate resignation Tuesday on Twitter after the board elected Gary Pierson as chairman beginning in March. Stone, the president and CEO of a marketing firm, said he has "new opportunities" and is making changes for himself and his family.

Stone was appointed to the board in 2015 by then-Gov. Mary Fallin. Pierson was appointed in April by Gov. Kevin Stitt after the death of Regent Billy Burgess Jr.

Last week, Regent Andrew Lester resigned amid criticism over his role representing drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in its legal fight with Oklahoma over the opioid crisis.

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2 dead, 2 in custody following northeast Oklahoma shooting

OWASSO, Okla. (AP) — Authorities in northeastern Oklahoma say two people are dead and two others are in custody following a shooting in suburban Tulsa.

Rogers County deputies responded to reports of gunfire in an Owasso neighborhood about 10 p.m. Tuesday and found one man lying in a street and another in the driver's seat of a car. One was shot in the chest and the other was shot in the head.

Sheriff Scott Walton said Wednesday both victims were taken to area hospitals where they later died. Their names weren't immediately released.

Walton says deputies booked 47-year-old Manuel Quezada into the county jail on two complaints of first-degree murder. His wife, 45-year-old Angelica Quezada, was booked on a complaint of accessory to murder.

Details about what led to the shooting weren't immediately available.

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3.7 magnitude earthquake rumbles at Kansas-Oklahoma border

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — A 3.7 magnitude earthquake centered near the Kansas-Oklahoma border was felt as far as 75 miles away, but no injuries have been reported.

The Kansas City Star reports that the temblor happened just after 4 p.m. Tuesday and was centered in northern Oklahoma, about 15 miles south of Anthony, Kansas. The town of about 2,200 residents is 10 miles from the Oklahoma state line.

Light to moderate shaking was measured near the epicenter. People as far away as Wichita, 75 miles away, reported feeling the earthquake.

Dozens of small earthquakes have rattled the same area in recent days, but the earthquake on Tuesday was the strongest in the area in the last 30 days.

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9 tornadoes confirmed in Dallas area from Sunday's storms

DALLAS (AP) — The National Weather Service says nine tornadoes struck the Dallas area during Sunday's stretch of severe storms in Texas.

Forecasters confirmed the twisters Tuesday after surveying damage throughout North Texas. The strongest of the tornadoes hit the heavily populated north Dallas area, where the EF3 twister had peak winds of 140 mph (225 kph) and was on the ground for more than 15 miles (25 kilometers).

The other Texas tornadoes had wind speeds ranging from 80 mph to 135 mph (130 kph to 218 kph).

Four people died in Arkansas and Oklahoma as a result of the storms late Sunday and early Monday. The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes in far western Arkansas, as well as a pair of EF1 tornadoes that hit northeast Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.