North Carolina woman sentenced to prison for Medicare fraud
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina woman has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison for conspiring with others to defraud North Carolina’s Medicaid system by turning in more than $4 million in fake claims for behavioral health services. U.S. Attorney Michael Easley says in a news release that Sharita Mathis Richardson of Greensboro was also sentenced on Wednesday to three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit health care fraud. She pleaded guilty to the charge in March 2021. As part of sentencing, Richardson was also ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution to the North Carolina Fund for Medical Assistance.
BIGGEST CITIES-POPULATION DECLINE
Goodbye NYC; Estimates show big city losses, Sunbelt gains
Eight of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. lost population during the first year of the pandemic. New estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau show only Phoenix and San Antonio gained new residents from 2020 to 2021. New York led the way, losing more than 305,000 residents, or about 3.5% of its 2020 population. Among the nation’s 10 largest cities, it was followed by Chicago and Los Angeles. Smaller big cities primarily in the Sunbelt gained news residents. Those cities include Austin and Fort Worth in Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Columbus, Ohio.
PARENTS’ RIGHTS-NORTH CAROLINA
NC parents’ bill that bars K-3 LGBTQ curriculum clears panel
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A Republican measure that supporters say would empower North Carolina parents to better monitor their children’s public school education has cleared a state Senate committee. But the measure approved Wednesday also bars K-3 class curriculum from addressing LGBTQ matters and wades into other contentious issues around pronouns for children and their medical treatment. Bill critics point to the prohibition of instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in lower grades as reminiscent of a new Florida law. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper called the measure “another Republican political ploy” like the 2016 “bathroom bill.” Republicans say the curriculum provision differs from the Florida law.
Settlement awards $3M to family of man who died in custody
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — The family of a Black man who yelled that he couldn’t breathe before he died in a North Carolina jail in 2019 has reached a $3 million settlement in its wrongful-death lawsuit. That’s according to court documents filed Wednesday. The Winston-Salem Journal reports John Neville’s family reached the settlement with all five former jailers who were initially charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death as well as with Forsyth County government and Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. The family said in the lawsuit that Neville’s civil rights were violated in December 2019 when detention officers and a nurse ignored his medical distress and pinned him on a mattress as he yelled that he couldn’t breathe.
NC Attorney General Stein out of hospital following stroke
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has left a Raleigh hospital after being treated earlier this week for what he called a “minor stroke.” Stein’s office confirmed his release Wednesday. He said Tuesday that doctors had removed a small blood clot and that he had no lingering effects. The 55-year-old Democrat wrote that he had stroke-like symptoms Monday night after he and his wife walked the family dog. Stein tweeted out the couple celebrating their anniversary Wednesday at a Raleigh restaurant.
NC Medicaid expansion stakes rise with Senate leader support
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina government’s most powerful Republican elected official has thrown his weight fully behind Medicaid expansion. Senate leader Phil Berger unveiled on Wednesday a package of health care access and insurance changes that include expansion — something he opposed for a decade. Berger revealed last fall he was willing to consider expanding Medicaid as part of budget negotiations. Wednesday marked his strongest public stance for the concept. Still, the odds that the bill will reach Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk before this year’s budget-adjustment session ends appear long. House Republicans are skeptical that there’s time to negotiate, and could be unhappy with other items in the package.
DOWNED AIRCRAFT-NORTH CAROLINA
Lawsuit filed over plane crash that killed 8 off of NC coast
The families of four people – including three teens – who died in a February plane crash off of North Carolina’s coast are suing the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot. The suit claims the pilot failed to properly fly the single-engine plane in weather conditions with limited visibility, making the firms liable. All eight people aboard the Pilatus PC-12/47 died when it descended into the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks. Four teenagers and two adults on the plane were returning from a hunting trip. The two others were the pilot and his adult son, who was a student pilot. The wrongful death suit was filed Tuesday in Carteret County court.
Workers’ advocates turned away at Dollar General meeting
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A civil rights advocate says he and two Dollar General store workers were denied access to the company’s shareholder meeting in Tennessee where they had been outside protesting for better pay and workplace safety improvements. The Rev. William Barber II told The Associated Press he and the two workers sought to enter the meeting Wednesday inside Goodlettsville City Hall with their proxy paperwork, but were told they could not go in after the meeting’s start time. In a statement, Tennessee-based Dollar General said the meeting began “promptly” at its start time and no one was denied who showed up early or at the start time. Barber said he saw nothing ahead of time that made entering late unallowable.