News Roundup

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Robert Aaron Long pleaded guilty this week to four counts of murder arising from a series of shootings he committed earlier this year in the Atlanta area.  The plea deal covered four killings in Woodstock, Georgia, which is north of Atlanta, and spared Long from the potential of being sentenced to death at a capital trial.  Long is accused of killing eight people, many of them Asian women, and additional murder charges still are pending against him in Fulton County, where part of the shooting rampage took place.  Keep reading for more news.

Raleigh.  A Raleigh police officer spoke anonymously to WRAL Investigates this week to bring attention to what the officer described as a dangerous shortage of patrol officers in the city.  The officer said that the vacancy rate for officers who are available to respond to calls for service is high, a claim that a Raleigh attorney who is a former officer said was consistent with anecdotes he had heard from other officers.  Interim Police Chief Todd Jordan noted that departments across the country had experienced staffing pressure and disagreed that the current vacancy level presented a danger to community safety.

Leaks.  The Associated Press reports that a former Air Force intelligence analyst who was involved with drone strikes in Afghanistan was sentenced to nearly four years in prison this week for leaking information about the drone program to a journalist.  Daniel Hale told a federal judge that he believed the drone strikes were indiscriminately killing Afghan civilians and felt compelled to bring that information to light.  Prosecutors said that regardless of Hale’s motivation, the leak of the documents endangered military personnel in the field.

License Plate Cameras.  WLOS reports that Polk County is in the process of installing license plate reading cameras across the county to provide surveillance on cars on the road.  The cameras apparently upload vehicle information into a national database that checks whether the car has been involved in a crime.  A Polk County Sheriff’s deputy told WLOS that the cameras will not monitor for traffic violations but rather will check whether vehicles are stolen or associated with an Amber Alert.

Embezzlement.  WRAL reports that a former Central Prison staff member was sentenced to more than four years in prison this week for embezzling roughly a quarter million dollars from the State over eight years.  Michael Scott Ragan worked as Central Prison’s business manager and used a portion of the money to fund an elaborate Christmas display at his home and other personal expenses.

Wu Tang.  It has been several years since we last had news related to Martin Shkreli, a former drug company executive best known for drastically raising the price of life saving drugs to increase profits and who was convicted of wire fraud in 2017.  In 2018, the federal government seized Shkreli’s copy of the Wu Tang Clan’s album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” which also is the only copy of the album in existence.  This week, the government sold the album, believed to be worth millions of dollars, for an undisclosed sum to an undisclosed buyer.

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