Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
College coaches, others indicted in admissions bribery case
BOSTON (AP) – College coaches and others have been charged in a sweeping admissions bribery case unsealed in federal court.
The racketeering conspiracy charges unveiled Tuesday were brought against the coaches at schools including Wake Forest University, Georgetown and the University of Southern California.
Authorities say the coaches accepted bribes in exchange for admitting students as athletes, regardless of their ability.
Prosecutors say parents paid an admissions consultant $25 million from 2011 through Feb. 2019 to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes to boost their chances of getting into schools.
Prosecutors allege that fake athletic profiles were also made to make students look like strong high school athletes when they actually weren’t.
Authorities say the consulting company also bribed administrators of college entrance exams to allow a Florida man to take the tests on behalf of students or replace their answers with his.
$25 million gift will improve medication decisions for vets
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota philanthropist Denny Sanford is donating $25 million to help veterans determine which medications are most effective for them.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Sanford Health announced the gift Tuesday. Veterans Affairs will administer what will be the nation’s largest pharmacogenetic testing effort. It’s expected to reach up to 250,000 veterans at 125 sites by 2022.
The testing program, at no cost to veterans, will launch this year at a pilot site in Durham, North Carolina and will initially enroll cancer survivors.
Pharmacogenetic testing helps doctors make decisions on what to prescribe for pain management, diseases and mental health issues. The $25 million gift will be paired with a matching fundraising effort by Sanford Health.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT-NORTH CAROLINA
Confederate statue being removed in North Carolina city
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A construction crew is preparing to take down a Confederate statue in a North Carolina city, a rare move in a state where such monuments are largely protected by law.
Two cranes were set up on either side of the statue in Winston-Salem and traffic is blocked on a main downtown thoroughfare Tuesday morning.
At one point, a worker on a cherry picker was raised up to the top of the statue and appeared to be looking at how to attach a chain or harness.
Winston-Salem argued it had more leeway than other North Carolina cities because the old courthouse property had passed into private hands. A 2015 North Carolina law all but prohibits the permanent removal of Confederate statues from public land.
Voter ID measure would delay requirement until 2020
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Surfacing legislation would essentially delay requiring photo identification to vote in North Carolina until the 2020 elections, because of concerns about the deadlines to finalize ID rules and as previously unscheduled congressional elections approach.
Senate Republicans filed a measure to slow the required use of voter ID to vote in person that a legislative committee planned to debate on Tuesday.
A December law implementing voter ID suggested voters could have to show qualifying cards for elections held as early as this spring.
Congressional elections for the 3rd and 9th districts also are creating unplanned work for election officials. While 9th District elections were already exempt from voter ID, 3rd District primary voting begins later this week with mail-in absentee requests that also must soon meet new standards.
NC school’s slavery role-playing game prompts investigation
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A slavery-themed game played at a North Carolina elementary school during Black History Month has prompted an investigation.
News outlets report the New Hanover County Board of Education released a statement Monday saying using a game to teach about slavery was inappropriate. A fourth-grade teacher had students at Codington Elementary play a role-playing game called “Escaping Slavery,” revolving around the Underground Railroad.
According to WECT-TV , the game included a “Freedom Punch Card” that would send teams that had accrued too many penalties “back to the plantation to work as a slave.”
The statement says the board understand the lesson’s purpose, and that teachers didn’t intend to “downplay or trivialize slavery.” Schools spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum says no personnel have been penalized.
Nonetheless, the board has requested a report from the superintendent.
VILLAGE CHRISTIAN-RECRUITING VIOLATIONS
Recruiting violations strip school of football championship
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina private school found guilty of football recruiting violations has been stripped of its 2018 state championship title.
The Fayetteville Observer reports that the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association ruled Monday that Village Christian had recruited students to play football and offered them benefits during the 2017 and 2018 football seasons.
The ruling means the Knights’ football program will forfeit its 19 wins, state runner-up finish and NCISAA Division III championship from that timeframe. The school is also on probation for the next two academic years, making it ineligible for playoffs. It was also subject to an undisclosed fine.
The head coach during those two seasons, Emerson Martin, was removed Thursday. The former Carolina Panthers lineman told the newspaper the association had “done the school an injustice.”
72-year-old inmate struck, killed at North Carolina prison
HOOKERTON, N.C. (AP) – State prison officials say a 72-year-old North Carolina inmate died during an altercation with another inmate.
News outlets cite a release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety that says William Walls was struck Monday evening at Maury Correctional Institution. He was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead a little over an hour later, following CPR from correctional officers, medical staff and local paramedics.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Department and the State Bureau of Investigation are handling the probe. DPS says it “will seek criminal prosecution against any offender involved in the altercation.” No further details were provided.
Walls was serving a life sentence on a 1979 second-degree murder conviction.
North Carolina agencies pay millions with scant transparency
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Government officials in North Carolina are shelling out millions of insurance and taxpayer dollars to quell risks of lawsuits, whether by an employee alleging discrimination or a driver hit by a local school bus.
A collaborative investigation released Monday by nine newsrooms across the state has found little uniformity in how these settlement agreements are tracked and shared with the public. The project was timed to coincide with Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of open government and the public’s right to know.
Despite sometimes large price tags, these agreements aim to save money by protecting public agencies from prolonged court battles or expensive judgments.
The media coalition’s review found some agreements contain confidentiality provisions that may run contrary to state law. Some agreements also impose gag orders on plaintiffs.