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RUSSIAN MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME
Prosecutors allege fraud, kickbacks and murder-for-hire plot
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Federal prosecutors say a couple living in North Carolina used a kickback scheme to defraud the Russian government and fund their lavish lifestyle.
And the man at the center of their enterprises, Leonid Teyf, is also accused of murder-for-hire. His wife and three others face charges ranging from money laundering to immigration fraud.
Court documents unsealed this week say Teyf once led a company that provided Russia’s military with equipment and services. He and others got millions in kickbacks from subcontractors, according to an indictment.
Prosecutors say he had a North Carolina mansion and set up U.S. businesses to launder money. Authorities accuse him of plotting to kill a man he suspected of having an affair with his wife. His lawyers didn’t respond to an email.
North Carolina fails to land Apple site, thousands of jobs
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina business recruiters and politicians are staying closed-mouthed as Apple announced that it is choosing Texas as the site for thousands of new technology jobs.
Apple said Thursday it will build a new campus in Austin with 5,000 jobs to start, and the potential to grow to 15,000 employees. The maker of iPhones and other gadgets also announced plans to establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City, California.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he expected to learn more about Apple’s decision soon.
The head of site selection for the business consulting firm BDO says Austin’s hip reputation likely makes it easier to recruit the tech-savvy workers Apple needs. Tom Stringer says his experience has been that Texas also offers more in financial incentives.
Judge: No Puerto Rico trip for convicted ex-county official
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A former North Carolina official guilty of conspiring to defraud the federal government cannot go on vacation to Puerto Rico this month.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports a federal judge on Tuesday denied the request by former Buncombe County assistant manager Jon Creighton, who is awaiting sentencing. Creighton pleaded guilty in October to accepting bribes in exchange for government contracts.
Former County manager Wanda Greene and assistant manager Mandy Stone are also charged in the scheme and have pleaded not guilty. A federal probe into county corruption also netted Greene’s son and former County Business Intelligence manager Michael Greene, who’s pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government.
Creighton’s attorney requested his client be allowed to go on the vacation as non-refundable airfare and lodging had already been purchased.
Legislature nears end of 2-year session, awaiting any vetoes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly is putting the finishing touches on its two-year session.
Legislators on Thursday approved a grab-bag “technical corrections” bill and a measure extending the time farmers can request state aid following Hurricane Florence until Dec. 20.
Cooper signed the Florence measure later Thursday. Five other bills await Cooper’s action in deadlines over 10 days. Cooper has until Sunday night to act on a measure implementing voter photo identification mandated in a constitutional referendum. Legislators could end the session, following any override votes as soon as next week.
The “technical corrections” bill in part would allow Wayne County school leaders to retain control of a low-performing school the State Board of Education voted last week to take from local control.
House speaker to push for $1.9B bond question for 2020
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The leader of the North Carolina House says he’ll urge colleagues next year to pass a $1.9 billion public education bond referendum that would go to voters in 2020.
House Speaker Tim Moore announced Thursday he would also travel the state to back his debt proposal, of which about two-thirds would benefit K-12 public schools. The remainder would be split between University of North Carolina campuses and community colleges.
A Moore news release quoted state schools Superintendent Mark Johnson as supporting the idea. Voters approved a $2 billion debt package in 2016, with proceeds largely going to UNC system schools.
Moore is in line to be re-elected speaker next month. House Republicans will retain a majority of seats next year. They picked him Wednesday to be their nominee.
Judge rules no punishing Smithfield Foods for hog complex
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge in North Carolina is shutting down a lawsuit against a Smithfield Foods hog feeding operation by some neighbors who complained of odors, flies and noises.
U.S. District Judge David Faber on Thursday declared there wasn’t enough evidence for those neighbors to pursue punitive damages.
Jurors in Raleigh determined Wednesday that eight neighbors of a Smithfield Foods animal feeding operation in Sampson County should be compensated with between $100 and $75,000 each. The neighbors had complained about Sholar Farm, which houses up to 7,000 swine.
Jurors in three related cases previously decided Smithfield Foods should pay nearly $550 million in penalties, which were reduced under a state law limiting punishment.
Smithfield Foods said it believes the lawsuits are an abuse of the legal system.
Deadline for Florence aid request in North Carolina extended
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Home and business owners suffering damages from Hurricane Florence are getting a little more time to request federal government aid.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday’s previous deadline to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants or for low-interest small business loans has been extended to Dec. 19. Cooper says he requested the extension, which a FEMA spokeswoman also confirmed.
More than 99,000 applications have been filed seeking help after the September storm’s record rains and flooding.
People can apply by calling 1-800-621-3362, going online , visiting a local disaster recovery center or using FEMA’s mobile app.
Cooper earlier this week also wrote President Donald Trump asking for federal disaster assistance in 21 counties that received damages from Hurricane Michael’s remnants in October.
Searchers scale back on effort to find missing truck driver
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
KINSTON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have scaled back the search for a truck driver who disappeared after his rig skidded off a highway in North Carolina and into the Neuse River.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the westbound tractor-trailer crashed through a concrete guardrail in the left lane of U.S. 70/258 early Sunday, falling between the two bridges that carry traffic over the river. Divers found the truck’s cab, but the windshield was smashed out and the driver was not inside.
N.C. Highway Patrol First Sgt. Mike Baker said the underwater search has been suspended, but crews will continue to look by boat, patrolling the river twice a day in hopes of finding the driver. He said the river’s swift current makes it hard to determine where the driver will be found.