News Roundup

WRAL reports that the owner of a venomous zebra cobra has been charged with dozens of misdemeanors after the snake, which is capable of spitting blinding venom with tremendous accuracy, was roaming loose in a north Raleigh neighborhood in recent weeks.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

Snakes on a Porch.  Christopher Michael Gifford now faces 40 charges related to his keeping of venomous reptiles, many of which involve an alleged failure to keep the animals in locking containers as required by state law.  Raleigh City Council member David Knight has said that he is now working on a city ordinance that would ban possession of certain dangerous animals.

Greensboro.  There is controversy in Greensboro after the City Council held a closed door meeting last month to discuss matters related to the death of Marcus Smith, who died in police custody several years ago after being bound with his hands and legs behind his back while apparently experiencing a mental health crisis.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that an attorney for the North Carolina Press Association, Amanda Martin, wrote two letters to City Attorney Chuck Watts asserting that the closed door meeting violated North Carolina open meetings law.  Watts disagreed with Martin’s view on the legality of the procedure.  A spokesperson for the Greensboro Justice Coalition said that the closed meeting is another example of the City Council not being transparent regarding the Smith case.

Avenatti.  Michael Avenatti, who became nationally known in 2018 for representing Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against Donald Trump, was sentenced to 30 months in prison this week following his conviction last year for attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike.  Other criminal fraud charges against Avenatti are pending in New York and California.

Whistleblower Leaks.  The Seattle Times reports that a former member of the Treasury Department’s financial crimes division FinCEN has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for leaking sensitive government documents to BuzzFeed news in 2017.  Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards pleaded guilty in 2020 to leaking documents related to “suspicious activity reports” that banks file with the Treasury Department.  A collection of news stories based on the leaks were published by BizzFeed in a report called the FinCen Files.

Minneapolis.  There was a tragic story out of Minneapolis this week where an innocent motorist was killed after a police officer crashed into the man’s car while pursuing someone else suspected of robberies and carjacking.  The officer was treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries but Leneal Lamont Frazier died after being transported to the hospital.  As NBC News reports, Leneal was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the bystander who filmed the fatal encounter between George Floyd and Derek Chauvin on her cellphone and later testified at Chauvin’s murder trial.

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