Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
BIG DONOR-NORTH CAROLINA-INDICTMENTS
Former North Carolina GOP chair expected to plead guilty
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A former North Carolina Republican Party chairman is expected to admit in court that he lied to federal agents conducting a bribery investigation of a major political donor.
Documents filed in federal court last week show Robin Hayes is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte.
Prosecutors said in his indictment that Hayes agreed to use the party as a conduit of $250,000 to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey’s reelection campaign. Prosecutors said Hayes agreed to funnel the money to Causey at the request of insurance magnate Greg Lindberg and an associate.
Court documents say Hayes lied to FBI agents in August 2018 by denying speaking to Causey about replacing the state official examining Lindberg’s company.
PILL MILL DOCTOR
Virginia doctor faces up to life in prison in opioid case
ABINGDON, Va. (AP) – A Virginia doctor who was convicted of more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing opioids faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
Dr. Joel Smithers, of Greensboro, North Carolina, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon.
Smithers was convicted in May of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.
Authorities say Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from five states during the two years he ran a medical office in Martinsville, Virginia.
During his trial, Smithers testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients.
Smithers faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, but could get up to life.
Fire destroys North Carolina campground dating back to 1853
HICKORY, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a fire that destroyed a North Carolina campground dating back to 1853 is suspicious.
A Tuesday statement from Catawba County Emergency Management says the fire erupted last Sunday at Balls Creek Campground in Catawba, and officials say 40 cabins were destroyed and nine more were damaged.
Officials said that because of the historic and religious significance of the campground, the investigation is being handled by a joint task force of local, state and federal authorities.
The task force said it considers this fire to be suspicious and the cause is currently undetermined.
The Hickory Daily Record reports that the campground has served as the site of revival meetings since it was first established in 1853. The revival is a two week-long event held in August.
N Carolina police officer charged with assaulting woman
KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) – A police officer in North Carolina has been charged with assaulting a woman.
Dare County sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Duprey tells news outlets that Kill Devil Hills police Lt. Allen Holland surrendered to authorities Monday. The veteran police officer was later released from custody after posting bail.
WAVY-TV reports Dare County records say Holland threw his wife to the ground and tore off her clothes. The station says the 47-year-old has been ordered to not have any communication with his wife.
It’s unclear why there was a nearly eight-week gap between the reported assault and Holland’s arrest.
The Virginian-Pilot reports Kill Devil Hills police Chief Gary Britt had no comment.
WAVY-TV says Holland is on paid administrative leave and may appear in court next month.
2 Illinois men sentenced for transporting stolen firearms
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Two Illinois men have been sentenced to federal prison for transporting and possessing hundreds of stolen firearms.
U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant said in a news release Tuesday that 25-year-old Roland Jackson and 19-year-old Taveyan Turnbo, both of Chicago, were sentenced in connection with a September 2018 theft at a UPS in Memphis. Court documents said Jackson is to serve 7 1/2 years, and Turnbo was sentenced to 1 1/2 years.
The release said 322 Ruger .380 caliber pistols and 44 Ruger .22 caliber pistols were taken from a shipment of firearms. Almost all the firearms were recovered in the Chicago suburb of Midlothian a few hours later.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the guns were being shipped from a Ruger factory in North Carolina.
Republicans, Cooper aim again for favored budget resolutions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper are trying to bring renewed energy toward resolving a three-month budget stalemate to their respective likings.
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said on Tuesday his chamber will adjourn for the year by Oct. 31, with or without an enacted budget. He said he’d prefer working out a compromise with Senate Democrats to end the impasse.
Cooper vetoed the state budget in June. House GOP members overrode his veto last month during an unexpected vote, but the override motion now sits in the Senate. Cooper said earlier Tuesday he believes all 21 Senate Democrats would uphold his veto.
Cooper vetoed the budget largely because it lacked Medicaid expansion. Democratic legislators spent Tuesday holding a hearing to try to build momentum for expansion.
UNC BOARD CHAIRMAN
UNC governing board elects new chair, vice chair
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – The governing body of the University of North Carolina system has two new top officers.
UNC officials said in a news release that the Board of Governors elected Randy Ramsey to serve as chairman and Wendy Murphy as vice chairman. They were elected Tuesday at a specially called phone meeting of the board.
Ramsey is the board’s previous vice chair. An online biography says he co-founded Jarrett Bay Yacht Sales, which merged with Bluewater Yacht Sales in 2012. He’s also co-founder and president of Jarrett Bay Boatworks in Beaufort.
Their appointments are in effect until June 30.
The vacancies occurred when the previous chairman, Harry Smith, said on Sept. 24 that he was stepping down early and returning to the board as a member. His resignation was effective Tuesday.
Medicaid expansion subject of N Carolina Democrats’ hearing
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democrats at the legislature are trying to build momentum to expand Medicaid to more low-income residents now that some House Republicans recently revived the idea.
The House and Senate minority leaders scheduled a hearing for Tuesday at the Legislative Building on the need to offer Medicaid to more uninsured adults. Other expansion advocates planned a news conference earlier in the morning. The hearing isn’t an official committee meeting, so no bill can move through the legislative process there.
A state budget stalemate has gone on for three months, primarily because the budget bill lacks expansion. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper wants expansion and vetoed the budget.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore has allowed a stand-alone expansion bill to advance in the House, but Senate Republicans strongly oppose the idea.