News Roundup

As the News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer report, dozens of people across North Carolina have been arrested this week by federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers.  In Sanford, 27 people were arrested in a raid of Bear Creek Arsenal, a firearms manufacturer.  Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said that the investigation at Bear Creek was focused on identity theft and fraud.  A few hours after the Sanford raid, undercover ICE agents arrested several people in a series of traffic stops in Charlotte.  ICE spokespersons said that the incidents were not part of a coordinated effort.  At the end of last year, ICE said that it planned to increase its presence in the Raleigh area in response to Wake Sheriff Gerald Baker’s decision to end the county’s cooperation with ICE detainer requests.

Warren Resigns.  Judge Marrion R. Warren announced this week that he will resign as director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts after serving in the North Carolina Judicial Branch for 26 years.  Warren will become senior associate dean of Regent University School of Law, joining Chief Justice Mark Martin at the school.  Martin appointed McKinley Wooten to serve as interim director of the AOC effective February 28.

Forsyth to End ICE Contract.  The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. announced on Tuesday that his office will end a contract with ICE that permits the federal agency to detain suspected undocumented immigrants in the county jail.  The contract is set to expire on April 30, at which point the jail will no longer accept people detained by ICE for civil violations of federal immigration law.

Cold Case Break.  The News & Observer reports that an Orange County cold case has been solved after 20 years thanks to DNA evidence.  In September of 1998, a boy’s remains were discovered near a billboard on Interstate 40 in Hillsborough.  The boy’s identity was unknown until DNA evidence allowed Orange County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Tim Horne, with the help of others, to determine that he was Robert “Bobby” Adam Whitt.  Last week, Whitt’s father, who is serving a federal sentence or armed robbery, confessed to the killing.

Fentanyl Bust.  Late last month U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced the agency’s biggest fentanyl seizure in history, finding 254 pounds of the drug in a secret compartment in a load of produce carried in a tractor-trailer bound for Arizona.  The previous largest fentanyl seizure was in August of 2017 when 154 pounds were found in a New York city apartment linked to a Mexican drug cartel.

Buncombe Receives Settlement Payments.  WLOS reports that Buncombe County has received nearly $1 million from Wanda Greene and Jon Creighton, payments that are part of a civil settlement arising from the former county officials’ corrupt actions while in office.  Greene paid the county $750,000 and Creighton paid $189,000.  The county still is pursuing a civil suit against former county manager Mandy Stone and former county contractor Joseph Wiseman.

Actor Targeted in Hate Attack.  The Associated Press reports that Jussie Smollett, an actor in the television show “Empire,” was the target of an apparent hate crime last week when he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two masked men who punched him while shouting racial and homophobic insults.  The attackers also threw an unknown liquid onto Smollett and put a rope around his neck.  No suspects had been apprehended at the time of writing.  Smollett has been helping raise funds for Bennett College in Greensboro, one of only two all-women HBCUs in the country, as the school tries to maintain its accreditation in the face of financial difficulties.

Murderer Turned Attorney.  The New York Times has an interesting story this week of a man who pleaded guilty to murder, spent two decades in prison, and earned a law degree from Tulane after being paroled.  Though he has not passed the bar because it is unlikely that he could pass the character and fitness portion of the process, Bruce Reilly now works as the deputy director of a New Orleans organization that advocates for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Jeff Talks About the Blog.  Earlier this week Jeff was interviewed on a WCHL 97.9 radio segment entitled “Focus Carolina,” a program that explores the work of UNC faculty members.  Jeff talks about the early days of this blog – back when reaching 50 readers a day was a milestone.  He also discusses the development of the North Carolina Prosecutors’ Resource Online (NC PRO), which you really should check out if you haven’t already.  In the interview Jeff says that, contrary to his expectations, the transition from private attorney to university professor hasn’t involved him wearing tweed jackets.  We’ve got a team fact checking that claim.

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