Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
North Carolina lawyer accused of threatening to kill judges
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina say a lawyer with a suspended license has been arrested on charges he threatened to kill county judges.
News outlets report Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies arrested 48-year-old Dee Wayne Bray Jr. Tuesday on a felony charge of threatening an executive, legislative or court officer.
The Fayetteville Observer says records show the North Carolina State Bar suspended the defense attorney’s license in 2017, because he couldn’t represent his clients due to health reasons. A state bar fund reimbursed his clients more than $165,000.
The newspaper reports court documents say Bray’s acquaintances notified law enforcement after he told them a week ago that he wanted to kill judges in the Cumberland County Courthouse.
Bray is in county custody with a $100,000 bail awaiting a first appearance this week.
Lawsuit: Deputy fired for not training woman due to faith
(Information from: The Sanford Herald, http://www.sanfordherald.com)
SANFORD, N.C. (AP) – A former sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina is suing over his firing, saying he lost his job because his religious beliefs prevented him from training a woman.
The Sanford Herald reports that Lee County Deputy Manuel Torres is claiming religious discrimination in the lawsuit he filed July 31 in U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit says the 51-year-old Torres believes the Bible prohibits him from being alone with a woman who’s not his wife for extended periods of time. It says he requested a religious accommodation in July 2017 when he was told to train a female deputy.
It says he was fired about two months later.
The newspaper reports Sheriff Tracy Carter declined comment. Torres is seeking reinstatement to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, along with compensatory and punitive damages.
SMALL BUSINESS INSURANCE
Small biz insurance strategy nearing legislative finish line
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A method designed to help North Carolina small businesses offer more affordable health insurance is one vote away from final legislative approval.
The measure developing the rules for “Association Health Plans” will return to the Senate after clearing the House this week.
The plans could be formed by trade groups and organizations with common interests so small companies, sole proprietorships and independent contractors could obtain insurance. State insurance regulators would subject plans to financial and coverage standards, such as treating pre-existing conditions.
The idea has been pushed by groups such as the NC Realtors and the state Retail Merchants Association.
Almost 20 House Democrats joined all Republicans in voting Wednesday for the legislation. If the Senate agrees to changes, the measure would head next to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.
VIRTUAL SCHOOL LAYOFFS
NC virtual school teachers no longer face temporary layoffs
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A payroll change has saved roughly 220 North Carolina Virtual Public School teachers from being temporarily laid off this fall.
The Office of State Human Resources tells news outlets that officials met Tuesday to find a solution and ultimately decided to change who handles the teachers’ payroll. The payroll has been handled by Temporary Solutions, which requires teachers take a 31-day break in service to satisfy state laws for temporary workers.
It will now be managed by the Department of Public Instruction and paid directly through the state’s payroll system. The Office of State Human Resources communications director, Jill Warren Lucas, says in a statement that none of the teachers will miss a paycheck.
The layoffs would have prevented nearly 7,300 students from using state-run online program.
NC town awarded for promoting monarch butterfly population
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina town is being recognized for its commitment to preserving monarch butterflies.
Wake Forest announced Wednesday that it the recognition was awarded by Monarch City USA, a nonprofit organization that promotes the species and recognizes areas that work on recovering butterfly populations.
The nonprofit group says that the butterflies rely on milkweed and nectar plants. The butterfly’s population has declined as the plants have dwindled.
Wake Forest, which is northeast of Raleigh, features the plants that attract the butterflies at E. Carroll Joyner Park.
The town has installed signs that identify the butterfly habitat and one noting Wake Forest’s designation as a “Monarch Town USA.” The nonprofit says it’s the first in the state to receive the designation.
Woman gets a year behind bars for Medicaid fraud
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – A former Connecticut woman convicted of her role in two separate schemes to defraud Medicaid of millions of dollars has been sentenced to a year in prison.
Federal prosecutors say 50-year-old Juliet Jacob was also sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered to pay more than $2.7 million in restitution.
Jacob and an accomplice operated two social and psychotherapy businesses in Bridgeport. Prosecutors say they billed Medicaid for services that were never provided from as early as January 2012. Prosecutors say they used the Medicaid provider numbers of two licensed health care providers who had neither rendered nor supervised any of the services that Jacob and her accomplice billed to Medicaid.
Jacob pleaded guilty in October.
Jacob, formerly of Bridgeport, currently lives in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Former unaffiliated voter back on election board as Democrat
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has picked a nonprofit’s executive to rejoin North Carolina’s Board of Elections days after the chairman resigned following criticism about a sex joke he made at a training conference for election officials.
Cooper said Wednesday that Damon Circosta of Raleigh will fill the vacancy created by Bob Cordle’s departure.
Circosta runs the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and served on the board last year when it had nine members. That board was struck down as unconstitutional and replaced with a five-member board.
Circosta was a registered unaffiliated voter while serving last year. He’s now one of three registered Democrats – like Cooper – on the five-member board.
The board picks the next chairman. It next meets later this month to consider which elections equipment can be used by counties.
North Carolina governor seeks weigh-in after remapping trial
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein have formally asked North Carolina judges to quickly strike down dozens of legislative districts drawn by Republicans that are at the center of a partisan gerrymandering lawsuit.
The top elected Democratic leaders on Wednesday requested that the judges accept their legal briefs in litigation filed by Common Cause, the state Democratic Party and voters against Republican legislators. The judges heard two weeks of testimony but haven’t yet ruled.
Cooper and Stein say the judges have the authority to declare the maps unconstitutional for favoring Republicans excessively and insulating them from changes in voting behavior.
Four former governors – Democrats Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue, and Republican Jim Martin – also filed a brief Wednesday asking that the districts be nullified.