News Roundup

Yesterday was the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol where American citizens violently assaulted law enforcement officers and injured government property while storming the building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election.  The NewsHour has been running a series of special reports about the attack this week which are available here.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that more than 725 people from across the country have been arrested for participating in the attack and has details about ongoing prosecutions of some North Carolinians.  Keep reading for more news.

Trooper Passes.  There was tragic news this week out of Rutherford County where Highway Patrol Trooper John S. Horton and detained driver Dusty Luke Beck were killed during a traffic stop when Trooper James Horton lost control of his vehicle as he approached the scene to provide assistance.  John and James Horton were brothers.  Funeral services for John Horton are scheduled for today at Isothermal Community College.  A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for Horton’s family and one has been set up for Beck’s family.

Jail Short-staffed.  WFAE reports that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently suggested that Mecklenburg County significantly reduce its jail population, from over 1,400 inmates to less than 1,000, because staffing shortages create safety concerns for both staff and inmates.  The Sheriff’s Office released a statement indicating that it is making efforts to reduce the population, and Sheriff Garry McFadden acknowledged the shortages and noted that jail staff had been working under difficult pandemic conditions for two years.  The DHHS report said that at the time of its December 21 inspection 81 staff members and more than one-fourth of the inmate population had COVID.

Officer Charged.  The Wilmington Star-News reports that an officer with the Carolina Beach Police Department has resigned and been charged with felony larceny and willful failure to discharge his duties.  In December, a citizen complained that former officer Christopher Wilkinson had stolen property during an encounter the citizen had with Wilkinson.  District Attorney Ben David said that his office is reviewing pending cases involving Wilkinson to determine whether any should be dismissed in light of the situation.

Holmes Convicted.  As the Associated Press reports, former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes was convicted on fraud charges this week by a federal jury in California.  For a time Holmes was regarded as a visionary CEO as she touted a Theranos device called the “Edison” which she said would be capable of running comprehensive blood tests using just a single drop of blood.  In fact, the machines never worked properly and Theranos ran blood tests using conventional equipment while raising money from investors.  Holmes’s partner at Theranos, Sunny Balwani, is scheduled for trial on fraud charges next year.

Maxwell Convicted.  Near the end of last month, a jury in New York convicted Ghislaine Maxwell on sex trafficking charges related to her involvement in recruiting teenagers into a sex abuse scheme she participated in with Jeffrey Epstein.  News reports this week say that the verdict now is in jeopardy after two jurors disclosed that they had been victims of sexual abuse and discussed the abuse during deliberations.  A jury screening process specifically inquired whether potential jurors had been victims of sexual abuse and the jurors’ responses to that inquiry now are the subject of investigation.