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December 24, 2018
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December 24, 2018
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST



Documents detail how absentee ballots gathered in NC vote
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Newly released affidavits allege absentee ballots were collected from North Carolina voters by the man at the center of vote fraud allegations or those working for him.
The latest documents were released by the state elections board Sunday and focus on last month’s 9th Congressional District race.
One voter alleges he gave his signed but otherwise blank mail-in absentee ballot directly to McCrae Dowless, who had been hired by the chief strategist for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign. It’s illegal for anyone other than a close relative or guardian to take a person’s ballot.
Dowless is a “person of interest” in an ongoing criminal investigation into irregularities in the 9th District race.
Another document from a Harvard University professor determined rates of unreturned absentee ballots in two 9th District counties were “extreme statistical outliers.”



Police: NC bank robbery suspect turns himself in
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in Durham say a suspect wanted in connection with a bank robbery has turned himself in.
Durham police announced Saturday they were looking for Ira Desmond Jackson on charges of robbing a Wells Fargo bank earlier in the week. They say the Chapel Hill man’s 2001 Saturn was used as the getaway car during the robbery.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Durham Police Department said Jackson had turned himself in.
The bank robbery suspect has been placed in the Durham County jail under a $250,000 bond.
Police have alleged that Jackson implied that he had a gun when he reached a teller at the Wells Fargo bank on Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t clear how much money was stolen.



Wounded NC veteran gets hero’s return for Christmas
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A wounded Army veteran was welcomed back to his North Carolina home for Christmas by a crowd including a high school marching band, local cheer team, and neighbors holding banners.
The celebratory return for 82nd Airborne veteran Mike Verardo took place Friday evening as he returned to his Waxhaw home from his latest visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The 33-year-old with three young daughters faces his 120th surgery in May.
His wife tells the Charlotte Observer this was his first real homecoming celebration since being wounded in southern Afghanistan in 2010. He has a prosthetic leg after an armored vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device.
Verardo told the newspaper the gathering before Christmas made him feel “just happy on so many levels.”



NC groups to support in-state tuition for all immigrants
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Groups that support in-state tuition rates for students who are undocumented or with DACA will hold a protest where actors portraying Mary and Joseph are turned away by innkeepers who are North Carolina politicians.
The event will be held Sunday in front of the State Board of Education building in Raleigh. The groups say North Carolina isn’t among the 18 states that allow undocumented students and those who are among the deferred action for childhood arrivals to pay in-state tuition for public universities and community colleges.
They want Gov. Roy Cooper and legislators to have North Carolina join those 18 states.
The participating groups include the state chapter of the NAACP; the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign; Student Action with Farmworkers; El Pueblo and North Carolina Asian Americans Together.



Cape Lookout’s beaches open to public during gov’t shutdown
HARKERS ISLAND, N.C. (AP) – The Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina will remain as accessible as possible during the government shutdown.
As U.S. lawmakers plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown, administrators at the North Carolina park said trails, beaches, roads, and parking lots would remain open to the public.
In a Saturday statement, park rangers stressed there would be no services such as trash collection, public restrooms and road maintenance. There will also be no programs for visitors during the shutdown.
The park is made up roughly 28,000 acres of land and water and extends for some 55 miles along North Carolina’s coast. Cape Lookout is on the southernmost point of the Core Banks and is accessible only by ferry or private boat.



Gentrification talk scrapped in Raleigh following complaints
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Objections about a poster advertising a planned talk on gentrification prompted the event’s cancellation in Raleigh.
The discussion was meant to focus on the “promises and realities of gentrification” and was slated to be led by the Planning Department’s new engagement coordinator. A poster advertising the talk described gentrification as an “increasingly popular redevelopment strategy in the urban core.”
But the News & Observer reports that critical comments on social media and objections of City Council members led to the discussion’s cancellation.
The newspaper says Raleigh City Council member Corey Branch was among those who complained, arguing that the city could not be the only voice talking about the issue.
Council member Nicole Steward described the wording on the poster as “inflammatory.”



Bomb threat leads to evacuation of Target store
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Christmas shopping briefly turned into unease after a bomb threat was called into a Target store in Raleigh.
News outlets report that the big box store near Triangle Town Center was evacuated of shoppers Saturday at roughly 1:30 p.m.
The business was reopened about an hour later after officials determined there was no danger.
Police have made no immediate arrest from the phone-in bomb scare.



North Carolina official had asked feds to act in voting case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A letter obtained by The Associated Press shows that North Carolina’s top elections official issued an urgent plea nearly two years ago for the Justice Department to file criminal charges against those at the center of 2018 ballot fraud allegations.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned in the January 2017 letter that if those involved in illegally gathering absentee ballots in Bladen County weren’t prosecuted the violations would likely recur in future elections. Elections officials say the memo was followed less than a month later with an in-person meeting where state investigators gave federal prosecutors evidence against those accused of fraud.
Allegations of fraud have thrown a 2018 North Carolina Congressional race into turmoil.
The office of U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon has declined to comment.



AP-WF-12-24-18 1120GMT