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News Roundup

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As the News Roundup previously has noted, former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene is facing federal fraud and embezzlement charges related to allegations that she misused county funds for personal purposes.  The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that Greene’s criminal exposure increased significantly this week with the filing of a new 23-count indictment charging her with various additional frauds and money laundering.  Keep reading for more information about the case and other news.

Greene.  According to the Citizen-Times, the new indictment accuses Greene of using public money set aside for settlements in wrongful conviction lawsuits to buy life insurance policies for herself and other county employees as part of a complicated scheme for her own financial gain.  County commissioners announced this week that that they will file a civil lawsuit against Greene and her son Michael, a former county employee who also is alleged to have participated in the schemes.

Wife Swap.  Trial began this week in Wake County for Wallace Bradsher, the former District Attorney for Person and Caswell counties who is accused of conspiring with former Rockingham District Attorney Craig Blitzer to improperly hire each other’s wives for state jobs.  Bradsher is facing felony and misdemeanor charges in the case and is representing himself.  News outlets across the state are livestreaming the proceedings, which were ongoing at the time of writing.

Redistricting.  As WRAL reports, there has been some preliminary movement this week in the General Assembly with regard to judicial redistricting.  Current legislative proposals do not involve statewide redistricting and instead focus on certain counties including Wake and Mecklenburg.

Stingrays.  The Washington Post reported late last week the Department of Homeland Security has discovered potentially widespread deployment of IMSI catchers, also known as Stingrays, near the White House and in other sensitive locations in Washington.  Folks who read this blog almost certainly are proud owners of Jeff Welty’s book on digital evidence and know that Stingrays are devices used to monitor and intercept cellphone signals.  The Post report suggests that some of the Stingrays likely were deployed by foreign governments.

Persky.  Two years ago, California Judge Aaron Persky was at the center of a national controversy over what many viewed as a lenient sentence he gave to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault.  As USA Today reports, Persky was recalled from office by California voters this week, becoming the first judge in that state to be recalled from the bench in 86 years.

Commutation.  On Wednesday, President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year old woman with no other criminal record who was serving a life sentence for drug offenses.  Johnson had served more than two decades in prison after being convicted of charges relating to cocaine trafficking.  Kim Kardashian West had recently advocated for Johnson during a visit with Trump at the White House.  As the News Roundup noted throughout last year, President Barack Obama frequently used his clemency power to commute the sentences of drug offenders.

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