North Carolina News – August 27, 2020

North Carolina News – August 27, 2020

Feds: Man lied on paperwork to get $400K in CARES Act loans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Federal authorities say a North Carolina man lied on some paperwork to get $400,000 in U.S. government loans that are for businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The Charlotte Observer reports that David Christopher Redfern was charged Tuesday with wire and bank fraud. Federal prosecutors said that Redfern applied for loans available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. It was passed by Congress earlier this year. The loans were for a construction business based in Trinity, which is about an hour northeast of Charlotte, the U.S. government said. The company was formed in January 2020, court filings show.


Lawyer: Ronnie Long, convicted of 1976 rape, will be freed

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — The attorney for a North Carolina man who has spent 44 years in prison for a rape he says he didn’t commit will be freed. The Charlotte Observer reported that Ronnie Long’s attorney shared the news via Twitter on Wednesday. Attorney Jamie Lau wrote that the state will ask a district court to enter a writ vacating Ronnie’s conviction. Long was a 20-year-old Black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping a white woman. Earlier this week, a federal appeals court had granted a new hearing for Long. A judge had criticized North Carolina for defending Long’s conviction despite the possibility that investigators withheld evidence.


Roy Cooper, Dan Forest agree to Oct. 14 debate

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is looking to fend off a challenge from Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in one of the few closely watched gubernatorial races in the country this election season. Both campaigns have confirmed they’ll participate in a debate on Oct. 14 organized by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters. Forest is pushing for Cooper to agree to two more debates. Cooper has no plans to do any in-person campaign, as he consistently leads Forest in public opinion polls by double digits. Forest is active on the campaign trail, often holding large, maskless gatherings.


Cooper’s budget proposal includes Medicaid expansion, bonds

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is recommending to legislators how to spend nearly $1 billion in COVID-19 federal relief dollars, mainly for public health, K-12 schools and local governments. But he asked separately on Wednesday that legislators reconvening in Raleigh next week spend more state tax dollars on disaster relief, at-risk students and teacher bonuses. The Democrat also tacked on other policy and spending prescriptions that will likely be idled by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. They include Medicaid expansion and more than $5 billion in debt for capital projects and infrastructure. Senate Republicans are wary of spending more state tax dollars during an uncertain economy.


Plea agreement of ex-NC state Rep. David Lewis accepted

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge has accepted the guilty plea of a longtime North Carolina state lawmaker who acknowledged conducting a scheme to funnel campaign dollars to his ailing farm. David Lewis was a chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee until he resigned last week. The Harnett County Republican appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer on Wednesday to carry out the plea he reached with federal prosecutors. Lewis pleaded guilty to making false statements to a bank and for failing to file a 2018 federal tax return. He’ll be sentenced later, but prosecutors have said they won’t seek active prison time.


Homeless essential workers face greater risk of COVID-19

Many homeless people work low-wage essential jobs on the front lines of the pandemic, putting them at higher risk of catching and possibly transmitting the virus. Many who work with these communities are reluctant to speak about this risk for fear of further stigmatizing homeless people, even though they do the front-line jobs others can avoid. Experts say between 25% to 50% of homeless people work. The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism found that in the era of COVID-19 that means many homeless employees are working low-wage essential jobs under conditions that put them at risk of catching the coronavirus.


NC State tells students staying on campus to go home

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State University is telling students remaining in university housing to go home, acknowledging a rising number of COVID-19 clusters occurring in both on-campus and off-campus housing. Chancellor Randy Woodson said in an email Wednesday that, beginning on Thursday, students in university housing should schedule a time to move out of on-campus residences. To ensure physical distancing, the school is establishing an 11-day window for students to move out, beginning Thursday. N.C. State has reported 21 COVID-19 clusters since classes began Aug 10, for a total of 546 positive cases. Four of the clusters are in residence halls.


North Carolina sues over federal decision on seismic testing

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has sued the federal government to block an attempt at seismic testing off the state’s Atlantic coast to measure for oil and gas deposits. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court by Attorney General Josh Stein’s office says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was wrong in overriding the state’s objections to the tests. The lawsuit says the bursts of sounds from airguns would adversely affect sea life, tourism and fishing. Stein and fellow Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper oppose offshore drilling. Many Republican state legislators support offshore exploration, citing jobs and energy independence.