State Briefs | Remains found at Grand Canyon thought to be California hiker

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Grand Canyon National Park rangers say human remains have been located that are believed to be those of a California hiker who went missing in June.

The National Park Service announced Thursday that people on a private river rafting trip discovered remains while on a day hike. Rangers found evidence indicating the remains are those of 72-year-old Raafat "Ralph" Amin Nasser-Eddin of Los Angeles.

Nasser-Eddin was reported overdue on June 12 and matched the description of a person reported to park rangers as being disoriented at a canyon camping area the day before. A dayslong search was fruitless.

The remains were found Wednesday nearly three miles from his last known location near Hermit Camp. The Coconino County Medical Examiner will confirm the identity.

Judge calls Arizona prison health care system ‘corrupt’

PHOENIX (AP) – A federal judge incensed by recent news reports says he believes Arizona’s prison health care system may be so “corrupt” that it can no longer be trusted.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports United States Magistrate Judge David Duncan on Wednesday read from a report by Phoenix’s KJZZ detailing apparent efforts by health care contractor Corizon to subvert the monitoring system of various health care standards.

Duncan says he intends to find out for himself “how deep this evil goes.”

Duncan will hear testimony Feb. 9 on the credibility of the report, including from Dr. Jan Watson, a doctor who worked in the Arizona Department of Corrections-Eyman Complex in Florence.

The KJZZ report included an email from a Corizon representative instructing Watson to cancel one of her patient’s infectious disease consultations.

Trial set for former Arizona regulator charged with bribery

PHOENIX (AP) – A May 30 trial date has been set for former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce and three others charged in what prosecutors say was an influence-peddling scheme aimed at benefiting a water company owner.

Pierce, his wife Sherry, water company owner George Johnson and lobbyist Jim Norton pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges.

Prosecutors say Johnson funneled $31,000 through Norton to Pierce and his wife for favorable treatment in a rate case before the commission.

They also say Pierce also was the intended recipient of a $350,000 property that was supposed to be paid for by Johnson, though it’s unknown if the transaction was in fact completed.

Pierce left the commission in early 2015 because of term limits.

Game and Fish investigating another elk poaching in Arizona

WILLIAMS (AP) – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating another poaching of a bull elk.

Officials say the poaching occurred last Sunday morning.

The elk was shot and left to waste along a U.S. Forest Service road northwest of Williams.

Game and Fish officials say there was not a lawful bull elk season going on at the time and the elk was shot with a large caliber rifle behind the shoulder.

Investigating officers are seeking information to locate two persons who might have left the scene in a pickup truck.

There have been at least three other cases of elk poaching in Arizona since last month.

State Sen. Debbie Lesko seeking US House seat

PHOENIX (AP) – A second state senator has formally announced a run for the U.S. House seat left vacant when Republican Rep. Trent Franks resigned.

Sen. Debbie Lesko had been mulling a run and announced late Wednesday that she would be a candidate. The Republican told the Arizona Republic she would also resign from the Senate.

Former state Sen. Steve Montenegro has already resigned to focus on running in the Feb. 28 special election Republican primary to replace Franks. Other Republicans who have formally announced include former Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump and former state Rep. Phil Lovas, who ran President Donald Trump’s Arizona campaign committee last year.

Several other GOP politicians are considering jumping in.

Three Democrats have filed for the seat in the heavily Republican district in the suburbs west of Phoenix.