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Pima College racks up $150k-plus post-Jan. 8 bill

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Pima College racks up $150k-plus post-Jan. 8 bill

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Dealing with requests for public records relating to accused gunman Jared Loughner and other fallout from the Jan. 8 shooting has cost Pima Community College over $150,000, a spokesman said.

Pima has paid about $110,000 in "direct legal fees as a result of the shooting by former student Jared Loughner," said college spokesman Paul Schwalbach.

The fees include the cost of responding to dozens of public records requests, review and redaction of over 19,000 pages of emails, addressing issues related to the criminal investigation of Loughner, and responding to the grand jury subpoena, he said.

The college has paid about $8-9,000 to the Caliber Group, a local marketing and public relations firm, "for PCC public information needs related to the Jan. 8 shootings," Schwalbach said.

In addition to the direct costs, PCC's insurance company has paid about $35,000 in legal fees incurred in the litigation over Pima's refusal to turn over records sought by Phoenix Newspapers.

Last week, a judge ordered those records released. The college did so the following day, and also released about 8,500 PCC emails related to the shooting or Loughner.

"It is difficult to put an exact figure" on staff costs related to the shooting, Schwalbach said.

"Examples of costs include the creation and maintenance of the FTP site for fulfilling public records requests from the media. Additionally, the College is working to improve its procedures related to threat assessment. In June, the College hired Dr. James Sanchez to be staff psychologist, a position that typically does not exist at a community college," he said.

Sanchez is being paid $95,000 annually to head PCC's "Student Behavioral Assessment Committee" and educate staff and students about mental illness.

Schwalbach detailed the costs in a series of emails over the past few days.

Loughner was suspended from Pima in fall 2010 because of a pattern of erratic behavior.

He was asked to leave the school on Sept. 30, after an instructor called campus police on Sept. 23 because Loughner was causing a disturbance in her class. School officials also discovered a disturbing YouTube video posted by Loughner calling Pima a "genocide school."

6 killed, 13 wounded

Loughner, 22, is accused of killing six, including a nine-year-old girl, and shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt.

He also is charged with wounding 12 others at the "Congress On Your Corner" meet and greet with constituents at a Northwest Side grocery store on the morning of Jan. 8.

He was found incompetent to stand trial in May, and was sent to a federal facility in Missouri for treatment to restore his ability to understand the charges against him and participate in his defense.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that prison officials can't force Loughner to take psychotropic drugs until the court hears further arguments.

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals maintains an earlier order that temporarily halted the forced medication of Loughner.

The court said that because Loughner has not been convicted, he is entitled to greater constitutional protections than a convicted inmate. The order, by a three-judge panel, rejected claims by the government that Loughner is a danger to himself.

In March, Loughner was charged with 49 federal counts in the attack. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf by the court.

Fourteen of the charges Loughner faces could result in the death penalty, if the prosecution seeks it. No decision of whether to ask for capital punishment has been made, authorities have said.

Loughner likely will face local charges in the shooting incident, authorities have said, but only after the federal case is resolved.

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