News Roundup

Allegations of ballot fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District are major national news this week.  As the Associated Press reports, the state elections board has refused to certify the results of the race between Mark Harris and Dan McCready because of “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities” involving a woman who allegedly went to people’s homes to collect their absentee ballots, some of which were not signed or sealed.  The AP story says that Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman has been investigating voting irregularities in Bladen County, a portion of which is in the 9th District, since last January.  Keep reading for more news.

Armed Man at Greensboro High School.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that an employee and a school resource officer at Smith High School in Greensboro acted quickly to apprehend a man who entered the campus armed with two guns on Monday.  An employee who was in the school’s cafeteria around lunchtime saw that Steve Bradley Spence was armed and radioed for help.  The school went into lockdown and SRO D.K. Evans chased Spence through the campus, eventually apprehending him with the help of other officers.

Greensboro Police Custody Death.  The News & Record has another article this week that says that the Greensboro Police Department recently released footage of an arrest that led to the death of Marcus Deon Smith while in police custody earlier this year.  Officers used a “RIPP Hobble” device to restrain Smith after encountering him in a suicidal and disoriented condition running in and out of traffic in the early morning of September 8.  An autopsy said that the restraint was one factor contributing to Smith’s death.  The Greensboro Police Department is reviewing the protocols associated with use of that device.

Fentanyl.  The Charlotte Observer has an article this week discussing the complex problem of powerful opioids and the appropriate criminal consequences for dealers who sell drugs that cause a fatal overdose.  The article tells the story of Billy Bullabough, a Huntersville man who died from an overdose in 2017, and Amanda Leigh Allen, the woman who sold him heroin laced with fentanyl.  After selling Bullabough the heroin, Allen sent him a Facebook message explaining that he should be careful because she thought it may contain fentanyl and she had forgotten to cut it.  Bullabough’s mother discovered that message after he died.  Late last month Allen, who had been charged with murder, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

African American Sheriffs.  WUNC’s The State of Things recently ran a radio story discussing the substantial number of African Americans who were elected as sheriffs in North Carolina in the midterm election.  African Americans were elected in Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Pitt, and Wake Counties, and the story says that five of those counties have never had an African American in the position.  Paula Dance, the new sheriff of Pitt County, is the first African American female sheriff in the state.

Flynn.  Justice Department prosecutors filed a sentencing recommendation this week for Michael Flynn, the Army General who briefly served as national security advisor for President Donald Trump before pleading guilty last year to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a Russian ambassador.  Prosecutors recommended that Flynn serve little or no prison time for his crime because of his early acceptance of responsibility and the substantial assistance he provided in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  A New York Times story that includes links to the sentencing documents is available here.

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