Jun 11, 2013 The Associated Press

Odd suit filed in Earhart case

CHEYENNE -- A Delaware aircraft preservation group denies a Wyoming man's claim that it found pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart's missing plane in 2010 but sat on the news so it could solicit him to pay for a later search.

Mystery has surrounded Earhart's fate since her plane disappeared in 1937 in the South Pacific. Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, but many experts believe she crashed into the Pacific a few years later while trying to establish a record as the first woman to fly around the world.

Timothy Mellon, son of the late philanthropist Paul Mellon, filed a federal lawsuit in Wyoming last week against The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery and Richard E. Gillespie, the group's executive director. Mellon, who lives in Riverside, claims the group solicited $1 million from him last year without telling him it had found Earhart's plane in its underwater search two years earlier.

Mellon's lawsuit says the 2010 search in the waters around the Kiribati atoll of Nikumaroro, about 1,800 miles south of Hawaii, captured underwater images of the "wreckage of the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart when she disappeared in 1937."

The suit claims the aircraft recovery group intentionally misrepresented the status of its exploration to Mellon last year, telling him a discovery of Earhart's plane was yet possible if he supported the search. The lawsuit states Mellon contributed stock worth more than $1 million to the 2012 search and accuses the organization of engaging in a pattern of racketeering to defraud him.

Repeat offender gets prison term

LARAMIE -- A Cheyenne man with at least five driving under the influence arrests and convictions in the past decade is going to prison for at least four years for his latest drunken driving offense.

Matthew Gregory Melander was sentenced Monday in Laramie after asking Judge Jeffrey Donnell to keep him out of prison and instead give him a sentence that emphasized treatment.

"I would like to change my behavior," he said. "I would like the opportunity to go to treatment."

A doctor who is also a relative told Donnell that Melander had mental health problems that contributed to his drinking.

But Donnell told Melander that he was a "danger to the public" and feared he would drink and drive again.

"I am not going to trust the lives of the public to your word," Donnell said.

Under Wyoming law, a person with more than four DUIs in 10 years can be sent to prison for seven years and fined $10,000.

According to court documents, Melander has been DUI arrests and convictions in Albany County as well as in Fort Collins, Greenwood Village and Larimer County in Colorado.

Donnell said Melander's record and legislative priorities emphasizing prison time over treatment required stiffer punishment for him. The Legislature is "sick and tired of dealing with drunks on the highway," Donnell said.

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