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VOTING RECORDS-NORTH CAROLINA
Investigators seek massive North Carolina voting records
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Federal investigators in North Carolina are seeking an enormous number of voting records from dozens of state and local election offices weeks before the midterm elections.
Documents and the state elections board confirmed the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh issued subpoenas recently on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the state board and local boards in more than 40 counties. Their requests – which the state elections board estimates would cover well over 20 million documents – may signal their expanded efforts to prosecute illegal voting by non-U.S. citizens.
The same federal prosecutor, Bobby Higdon, announced two weeks ago that 19 foreign nationals were charged with registering to vote or casting ballots illegally because they weren’t citizens. His office had no comment Wednesday.
Bloods gang leader gets 20 years for racketeering conspiracy
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A man who prosecutors describe as a Bloods gang leader has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy.
The Charlotte Observer reports U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney told Pedro Gutierrez that he wished he could have imposed a longer sentence Tuesday. Whitney recommended sending Gutierrez to Colorado’s federal Supermax prison, ADX Florence.
Prosecutors said the 45-year-old spent rose to the top of the United Blood Nation Gang and directed crime all over the East Coast while imprisoned in New York. Gutierrez was accused of ordering the 2011 gang war in North Carolina that led to the six-month lockdown of five prisons.
Gutierrez maintained his innocence while addressing the court after sentencing. He told the clerk of court he wanted to file an appeal request immediately.
CEMETERY-BODY FOUND-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina couple visiting grave find shooting victim
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a husband and wife visiting their granddaughter’s grave found a man’s body lying nearby.
High Point police said in a news release a caller told a 911 dispatcher the body was lying next to a mausoleum just inside the cemetery Tuesday.
Authorities identified the victim as 28-year-old Xavier D. Luckey of Thomasville, adding that he had been shot at least once. The caller said Luckey had no pulse when they found his body, and emergency personnel pronounced him dead at the scene.
Investigators declined to provide additional information, including a motive behind the shooting. So far, there have been no arrests in the case.
After court ruling, amendments panel has more work to do
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Now that North Carolina courts have ruled six constitutional amendments will be on the November ballot, a special panel must meet again to finish writing explanations for the public.
The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission is scheduled to meet Thursday. Comprised of the North Carolina secretary of state, attorney general and Legislative Building’s top administrator, the commission already has approved summaries for four amendments submitted to voters by the General Assembly.
Now the panel must explain two more amendments because the state Supreme Court this week upheld ballot questions reworked by lawmakers. Those amendments would alter how judicial vacancies are filled and how the state elections board is composed.
The explanations will appear in a statewide voters’ guide and go to local elections boards and media outlets.
Upcoming redistricting is a backstory of 2018 midterms
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – The task of drawing new boundaries for thousands of federal and state legislative districts is still about three years away, yet the political battle over redistricting is playing out in this year’s midterm elections.
A lawsuit challenging the current districts recently threw uncertainty into North Carolina’s congressional races. Another suit resulted in a redrawn map in Pennsylvania. And ballot initiatives seeking to make the redistricting process less partisan are headed to voters in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah.
At the same time, Democratic and Republican groups are pouring millions of dollars into state races seeking to ensure they have officeholders in position to influence the next round of redistricting.
The results from the 2020 census will be delivered to states in spring 2021. That will trigger a mandatory once-a-decade redistricting for U.S. House and state legislative seats.
PLANT CLOSING-SMITHFIELD FOODS
Smithfield Foods closing meat distribution center
CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) – Smithfield Foods is closing a North Carolina meat distribution center and laying off about 100 employees.
The state Commerce Department posted a notice Wednesday in which Smithfield Foods said it will close the operation in the Johnston County town of Clayton by the end of next month.
Most of the workers being laid off are warehouse operators and supervisors.
Smithfield Foods’ extensive pork-raising operations in North Carolina have made news this summer. The world’s largest pork processor has lost three federal lawsuits and jurors decided it should pay more than $500 million in damages to neighbors who complained of intense nuisances from odors, flies and rumbling trucks at industrial-scale hog operations.
SCHOOL TEST SCORES
Annual North Carolina schools report shows limited progress
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Fewer North Carolina public school students are attending problem schools, but the annual snapshot of how classrooms are doing shows few significant changes in recent years.
The annual update released Wednesday showing how public schools are doing celebrates that there are nearly three dozen fewer schools in the more than 400 statewide that year after year fail to show results in teaching children.
Many other measures are status quo.
Once again, fewer than half the elementary and middle school students tested last spring were ready to tackle both reading and math in the next grade.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson says schools are increasingly using technology to help the state’s 1.5 million public school students learn at their own pace, cutting back time for test preparation and having teachers teach more.
Soldier accused of child abuse, starving dog to death
RAEFORD, N.C. (AP) – A Fort Bragg soldier is accused of starving dogs and allowing a child to live in “extremely unsanitary conditions.”
Citing a statement from the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office, news outlets report deputies responding to a report of animal cruelty at 32-year-old Benjamin James Neuman’s house found a dead dog, a malnourished dog and a 6-year-old girl who wasn’t being fed properly last month.
The release didn’t elaborate on the home’s living conditions. The child is in the custody of social services.
Neuman was charged Wednesday with animal cruelty, killing an animal by starvation, misdemeanor child abuse and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. He was turned over to the Fort Bragg Provost Marshal.
Reports didn’t describe Neuman’s role at the Army base or include comment from him.