State briefs: Local prosecutors dismissing long-delayed cases
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 8, 2019
RALEIGH — Hundreds of thousands of North Carolina criminal cases and infractions languishing for years or even decades without prosecution have been dismissed through a records cleanup facilitated by the court system.
NC Policy Watch reports the Administrative Office of the Courts is providing data to counties, where district attorneys can decide whether to use a new technology tool to perform mass dismissals. It’s part of a two-year AOC initiative to create a modern and integrated court information system.
Court system spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell says nearly 700,000 cases had been dismissed as of mid-April.
Local prosecutors decide which cases to dismiss. Some interviewed said they focused on misdemeanors and infractions, with many related to vehicle registrations and inspections or bad checks. The DAs said violent crimes or impaired-driving cases aren’t being dismissed.
Wealth manager guilty in $15M Ponzi scheme
RALEIGH — A North Carolina jury has found an investment adviser guilty of lying to clients, forging documents and swindling people out of more than $15 million in a Ponzi scheme.
News outlets report 46-year-old Stephen Peters was found guilty on 20 counts of fraud on Thursday. Authorities say Peters is the owner of VisionQuest Wealth Management. They say he offered his clients high returns on low-risk investments but instead funneled millions to his own account while using other funds to pay off earlier investors. WRAL reports some clients lost their life savings.
Peters testified in his own defense and disputed some of the allegations. The jury told him he must forfeit vacation homes and other assets to repay investors.
Peters is awaiting sentencing.
Homeowners: Empty lake decreases property value
BOILING SPRINGS LAKE — Homeowners in a North Carolina county are upset that the value of their property is slated to increase even though their homes no longer have a waterfront view, thanks to Hurricane Florence.
The value of homes in Boiling Spring Lakes in Brunswick County is expected to increase. County officials said base property rates have increased 10 percent.
Arvil Stephens’ home sits on a peninsula along Patricia Lake, which was drained after Florence’s floodwaters caused dams to breach last year. The county said the home is valued at $501,000 now, compared to $423,000 a few years ago when the lake was full.
The county tax office says the appraisals were conducted with the understanding that the lakes would be restored.
Coastal Land Trust buys more than 700 acres
WILMINGTON — The Coastal Land Trust has completed the purchase of one of its “Top 40” priority conservation projects at the North Carolina coast.
Trust officials say in a news release on Friday that the group purchased more than 700 acres along the banks of the Neuse River across from the city of New Bern. The trust then transferred the property to the state of North Carolina for management by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
They say the area’s significant natural resources made it a priority for the trust to save. The property’s resources include freshwater marsh, cypress-gum swamp and forests of bottomland hardwoods, loblolly pine and longleaf pine.
Funding for the purchase came from state and federal agencies and grants. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.
Bipartisan support on N.C. legislative remap
RALEIGH — Here’s a rare sight at the North Carolina legislature: Both parties back the same redistricting plan.
A proposal redrawing state House districts in Wake County should be on the floor next week after clearing two committees on Thursday after little debate.
State judges ordered new Wake lines by the end of June after ruling Republicans in 2017 impermissibly redrew four districts that hadn’t been struck down in previous litigation.
House Democratic and Republican leaders sponsored a new map identical to a third-party expert’s recommendations to federal judges in late 2017. Currently Democrats hold all 11 Wake seats, and incumbents seeking re-election wouldn’t be forced to run against each other under the proposal.
This map would only be used next year, since decennial redistricting begins in 2021.
Kay Jewelers splits with worker who banned deputy
STATESVILLE — Kay Jewelers has split with a North Carolina store manager who would not allow a deputy to pick up an engagement ring because the deputy was wearing his service weapon.
The Charlotte Observer reports the store said on Facebook Thursday that the Statesville worker no longer is employed by the company. Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell said on Wednesday that the deputy went to the store on his lunch break this week and left without the ring he had purchased.
Campbell said the manager met the deputy at the door and told him he couldn’t enter while armed with his service weapon. Campbell says it is against department policy to remove service weapons while in uniform.
The company says it’s now reinforcing store training regarding Customer First policies.
Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com