US soldier in Afghanistan accused of raping Alabama student
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – U.S. Army criminal investigators have arrested a deployed soldier accused of raping an Alabama college student last year.
Auburn, Alabama, police Capt. Lorenza Dorsey said in a news release Tuesday that 27-year-old Ryan Charles Petro of North Carolina has been charged with five counts of first-degree rape.
Investigators say he sexually assaulted a 19-year-old Auburn University student, an acquaintance of his, at a hotel. He was identified through the analysis of forensic evidence. Authorities didn’t specify what type of evidence was tested.
Petro was arrested by military investigators while deployed in Afghanistan last month. He was later turned over to North Carolina authorities and then been booked into an Alabama jail.
Auburn police and U.S. Army agents are investigating.
FEMA denies Dorian individual assistance in 4 NC counties
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s governor says the federal government has denied individual assistance for residents in four counties hit by Hurricane Dorian.
Gov. Roy Cooper had sought the federal help for households in Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties. He said the assistance would have included funds for temporary housing, repairs and storm damage.
But his office released a letter from FEMA dated Tuesday denying the individual assistance request. The letter signed by FEMA Associate Administrator Jeff Byard said that joint federal and local assessments determined the impact to households didn’t warrant the individual assistance. The denial can be appealed.
The letter notes that other federal funds for public assistance and hazard mitigation were approved.
Cooper’s office issued a statement saying the decision is disappointing for families who still need help.
BIG DONOR-NORTH CAROLINA-LOAN
Powerful NC lawmaker borrowed money from man later indicted
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – An influential North Carolina Republican lawmaker says a man now facing federal charges in an alleged bribery scheme loaned him $500,000 last year, but never asked for anything from the General Assembly in return.
Citing documents and an interview, WRAL-TV reported on Wednesday that John Gray loaned House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis the money in June 2018. Lewis said this week his Harnett County farm had financial troubles, and Gray was a fellow farmer and friend. The loan’s not yet repaid.
Gray and three others were indicted in the spring, accused of trying to bribe state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. One of the four entered a plea agreement last week.
Lewis says the loan has a high interest rate so nobody “could question that it was a sweetheart deal.”
NC firefighter dies in off-duty fall from city building roof
ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s office says a firefighter has died after falling 15 feet (5 meters) from the roof of a water rescue building.
The Bladen County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a Facebook post Tuesday that 37-year-old Mildred Gray Williams was working her day job with a construction company to replace the Bladen County Water Rescue building’s roof when she fell. She was a volunteer with both the White Lake Fire Department and the water rescue team but wasn’t on duty at the time.
Sheriff Jim McVicker said that following procedure, the accident has been reported to the Labor Department for investigation.
The Charlotte Observer reports responders escorted Williams to the hospital, placing fire truck ladders over the road in an arch with a flag hanging down in between.
Appalachian Regional Commission announces $44.4M initiative
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The Appalachian Regional Commission has announced $44.4 million for 54 projects affecting coal-impacted communities in Appalachian states.
The commission said Tuesday that the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative aims to create or retain over 5,700 jobs. It said the initiative also seeks to leverage more than $39 million in private investment, create or retain 2,940 businesses and train thousands of workers and students.
More than $14.6 million will develop business incubators, increase access to capital and provide other services in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Over $13 million will support broadband development in New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
And more than $8.3 million will focus on strategies to strengthen recovery in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
FORMER CHURCH LEADER-INDICTMENT
Former church leader accused of stealing from church, family
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A former North Carolina church leader has been accused of stealing nearly $450,000 from the church and multiple retirement accounts.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports Forsyth Superior Court Judge William A. Wood set a $3 million bond Tuesday for 35-year-old Kenneth Ray Sullivan, Jr.
Grace Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem filed a lawsuit claiming Sullivan used his position of handling church finances to take the money. The indictment says he took nearly $270,000 between 2008 and 2019.
Sullivan is also accused of taking about $170,000 from four individual retirement accounts, including those belonging to his parents.
Sullivan was indicted Monday on two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and one count of securities fraud. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak for him.
HOUSE SPEAKER-DUKE ENERGY
House speaker sees no conflict between lawsuit, utility bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore is suing Duke Energy on behalf of the family of a farmer electrocuted in 2016.
The Republican says he sees no conflict of interest as the utility seeks passage of legislation that could alter how power rates and profits are set.
WRAL-TV reports Moore filed the negligence lawsuit last year in Cleveland County, where he lives. The lawsuit alleges a power line that the tractor’s sprayer boom touched was too low. Moore said this week the lawsuit could go to trial in February.
Duke Energy lobbyists have been working this year to pass a rate-setting bill, which could get a final vote as early as Thursday in the House. The company says the lawsuit is being treated like any other personal injury matter.
Rural broadband spending measure heading to NC governor
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Another spending proposal that contains another small portion of the North Carolina state budget bill idled since Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto is now heading to his desk.
The House gave final legislative approval on Tuesday to a measure which expands a recently created matching grant program to improve rural broadband access. It directs $15 million be set aside for the program annually for the next 10 years.
The bill is the latest “mini-budget” measure that Republicans have advanced by taking provisions from the vetoed budget and running them separately.
More spending measures addressing transportation and community college spending will be considered on Wednesday by the House. The full Senate is slated to debate bills that would fund a new juvenile justice initiative and enact several tax-related measures in the budget.