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News From Action News Jax

    At its homecoming game Friday with Ed White, Oakleaf High School held an emotional tribute for a young man gone too soon. Sixteen-year-old Keondre Moss’ family was there as the packed house donned purple -- his favorite color -- and held a moment of silence and prayer. TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  As Action News Jax has been telling you, Moss died in a crash Monday that sent two of his friends to the hospital. On Friday, we saw one of the other crash victims for the first time out of the hospital.  Brian Ransom attended with his family in a wheelchair. Action News Jax spoke with Moss’ grandfather, Donald Moss, Sr. “He was a prince of a guy,” Moss said. “In my eyes, he stands nine feet tall.” It was a sea of purple in the stands, and on the field, players passed out flowers to his sister. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories Keondre Moss was especially close with his 3-year-old niece, Carter. “I call her Ms. Carter,” Moss Sr. said.  “She’s our inspiration, so much power in that little girl.  And Keondre was so gentle with her.  It was just amazing to see the two of them.” It was a night this family will never forget and one much bigger than football. “It’s a blessing to be here and see so much support,” Moss Sr. said.  “We’re so appreciative.” LLK: “Long live Keondre.” pic.twitter.com/htxAg47kEh — Russell Colburn (@RussellANjax) September 20, 2019
  • After a three-day, multicounty search, the woman who police say was carjacked and kidnapped by her boyfriend has now been found safe. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said it's unclear if a crime even happened. Marsha Higgins and her boyfriend, Brad Chilton, were found safe in Volusia County. TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  JSO made the announcement on Twitter around 3 p.m. Friday with a short message that said the couple was safe and thanked the public for the 'abundance of tips' they received.  Action News Jax first reported at noon how a text from Higgins to someone in Tennessee started the investigation. According to the police report, the text said: 'Call the police. Tell them Brad has carjacked me with me in the car and is threatening to kill me.' STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories The couple was last seen in Jacksonville Beach, and then yesterday, JSO said they were spotted in Volusia County on Wednesday night. Action News Jax asked JSO if anyone was arrested or whether they believe the report of a carjacking and kidnapping was false.  But public information officer Melissa Bujeda wouldn't respond to our questions directly. Instead she said, 'Your answers are in the news release I just wrote. The investigation is active and ongoing.  It is undetermined at this time if a crime occurred.
  • Relief for the Bahamas continues, but this time it's for the animals that have nowhere else to go.  A local company out of St. Augustine called Mermaid Life made a special trip to Nassau Friday to rescue a dozen dogs and bring them back to the U.S.  And Action News Jax reporter Dani Bozzini got a first-class seat to help with the rescue efforts.  TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  Mermaid Life CEO Milena Lyons says, 'We've helped the people in the Bahamas, but I thought, 'Oh my gosh, these dogs they can't help themselves, let's go ahead and pitch in and get them out of Nassau.''  It's an idea that quickly became reality with the help of the local community coming together to donate everything needed to make it happen.  Boomerang Air even stepped in and donated the plane to get the group to Nassau.  With crates and supplies loaded up at St. Augustine airport, it was wheels up to Nassau to rescue a dozen dogs from the gravely overcrowded Bahamas Humane Society.  In Nassau, the Bahamas Humane Society, with grateful hearts, helped load all the dogs up to head back to the U.S. By taking the pups back with, it's giving them a chance to take in more dogs from the islands hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian.  Fiona Moodie, the adoption coordinator for the Humane Society, says, 'Pets are being surrendered to us because the people just have no hope at this point to take their dogs and cats back in.'  And until families get back on their feet, the Bahamas Humane Society wants to give their dogs shelter. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories But before they can do that, they need space, which is where the U.S. and locals like Lyons come in to save the day.  One by one, everyone, even airport employees, pitched in and helped load the 12 anxious pups onto the plane. 'We really, really appreciate everybody's help. It's a blessing,' exclaims Moody.  And then it was tails up to West Palm Beach and St. Augustine to drop off the rescued dogs to local shelters. A long, yet rewarding day helping those who need it most. 
  • Several residnets in Fruit Cove Estates are fighting back against a plan to open a gas station and 24-hour convenience store next to their neighborhood. '24 pumps, 24 hours a day, and you've got about a half a dozen people right along there that are trying to go to sleep at night.' Harry Fairfield told Action News Jax, saying he wants the plan dismissed. 'When I bought this house, before I bought it, I checked to see what the zoning was to make sure this kind of thing wouldn't happen.' TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  The land is currently zoned as residential, but the landowner, First Coast Energy, has a proposal to change it to commercial so it can get the project started. That project would include a 12-pump Daily's gas station with 24 fuel stations, a 7,000 sq. ft. convenience store, and a car wash. The land is now mostly grass and trees, with an old abandoned tree nursery. First Coast Energy says it plans to keep a lot of the greenery. Neighbors say the plan is also to change Fruit Cove Estates entrance, to widen the streets so tanker trucks can get to the gas station. The way the property is zoned right now, gas pumps are not allowed. First Coast Energy is asking the St. John's County Planning and Zoning Agency Board to change that. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories There was supposed to be a meeting on Sept. 19 to hear the company's proposal. But the meeting was changed after the gas company got word that only four out of the seven board members could attend. We reached out to all seven members on the board, asking how they plan to vote at the next meeting, but they did not get back to us. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m.  The Board of County Commissioners will get the final say at its Nov. 7 meeting.
  • Nine-year-old Kate Amato had already found her passion. 'She loved music. She sang all the time,' her mother, Lisa Amato, said. 'She was just bright and cheerful and fun and spunky.' Kate was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, in July 2014. TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  Her little body endured 2 1/2 years of treatment, including weekly chemotherapy and months of radiation therapy but her smile never faded, her mother said. 'Despite all the pain and suffering, she still found ways to be joyful,' Lisa Amato said. 'She was always able to find the light and be the light, so her spirit was quite infectious.' When Kate died in November 2016, her parents made it their mission to help fund pediatric cancer research. Experts say only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes toward pediatric cancer. 'My husband and I knew that the sole mission of Kate's foundation would be to promote innovative research to find safer, smarter treatments. Children cannot endure the same toxicity as adults do. It leads to a lifetime of chronic health problems, 'Lisa Amato said. Since starting the Kate Amato Foundation in 2017, Kate's family has raised $250,000. The foundation has partnered with a dozen local businesses this month to raise funds and awareness. On Sunday, they're it is inviting families to a sunrise yoga session on the beach.  'To do something to help future children, improve survival outcomes, reduce toxicity,' Lisa Amato said. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories 'To spare families the pain and suffering of watching their children suffer.' She said Kate's family also hopes that others will be inspired by Kate's story and her strength. 'I would like for them to feel her strength and warmth when they think of her name and her smile. I would like them to find courage and strength when they're facing something difficult and know they have it within them,' Lisa Amato said.   You can see a full list of businesses the Kate Amato Foundation is partnering with here. 
  • The peak of the flu season is weeks away, but already, there are indications that the U.S. could be in for a bad season. Rei Montalvo and her kids never skip their flu shots but her husband does. 'He also believes that by him not getting it, he's not getting sick, but I think it's just that we're not bringing it home,' said Montalvo. TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  That's exactly right, according to medical professionals, who say getting the flu shot protects not only you, but also the people around you. According to the Florida Department of Health, flu activity has increased in Florida over the last two weeks but remains low overall. The state also reported six new respiratory disease outbreaks. Dr. Allen Todd, of Ascension St. Vincent's Family Medicine, said officials look to the Southern Hemisphere to try to predict what our flu season might be like. 'A lot of what happens in the Southern Hemisphere is based on what the virus but also based on whatever that community is like. Are they immunocompromised?' said Todd. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories According to the American Council on Science and Health, Australia had a bad flu season because of a predominant strain known as H3N2. The organization said that based on the data from Australia, it's reasonable to expect we could be in store for a potentially bad season, as well. 'It makes me think about boosting my own immune system and taking care of my body and you know, handwashing and that kind of stuff,' said Angelique Newman. Todd encourages everyone to get the flu shot, which has already been updated this year based on what strains are expected to be circulating in the U.S.
  • With the redevelopment of downtown Jacksonville, city leaders are working to incorporate the St. Johns River as another attraction by adding more walkways and riverfront restaurants. However, the 12th annual river report showed alarming environmental concerns that the St. Johns Riverkeeper said need to be addressed before another development can occur.  The 2019 River Report for the state of the lower St. Johns River basin reported several red flags currently in the water. TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  The St. Johns River said the major concerns are phosphorus pollution, heavy metals and saltwater intrusion.  “There were several red flags that stood out to us,” St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said. “One is a sudden uptick in phosphorus pollution. Up until now, we’ve been having a reduction of nutrients in the St. Johns. Then to see that all of a sudden increasing dramatically. Also an increase in heavy metals in the river, so that trend is concerning, as well as more saltwater intrusion, which can be due to the dredging and sea level rise.” Rinaman is calling on elected city leaders to enforce policies that would help protect the St. Johns River.  STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories “The city of Jacksonville has a fertilizer ordinance, but it’s not enforced regularly, so that’s a step,” Rinaman said. “They can also lead by example. We need to make sure in our parks and public land, that we’re doing everything we can.” The Downtown Investment Authority will soon be accepting proposals for the old courthouse and City Hall annex properties along East Bay Street downtown. This week, the group approved proposal guidelines for bids. They include a proposal that has interaction with the St. Johns River.  City council member Reggie Gaffney said with the redevelopment of downtown, the city is working to incorporate more of the St. Johns River.  “I hope they’re able to incorporate the river with whatever the project is going to be potentially coming,” Jacksonville resident Oliver Green said. “It’s a calming feeling when you come down here, so hopefully they can continue that.” Action News Jax contacted the city’s environmental protection board to learn how they plan to fix issues in the St. Johns River. The administrator said he was out of town and unable to comment. A city spokesperson sent Action News Jax this response: “The St. Johns River Main Stem and tributaries are the main focus for the Environmental Quality Division’s Water Branch. While the Nitrogen levels are decreasing in the St. Johns River, further improvements are required and underway for it and other waterways.   We have several programs to help identify and eliminate unauthorized discharges to our stormwater system, and locate sources of both bacteria and nutrients that can be removed to help improve water quality. The City recently started a pilot study on several stormwater ponds to see if further improvements can be made through treatment of those ponds. Additionally, the City is working on improvements to McCoy’s Creek with a natural restoration project, partnering with JEA on Septic Tank Phase Out projects, and researching innovative technologies that might provide enhancements to water quality.”
  • As the city prepares to demolish the Jacksonville Landing, a team is working to salvage some of the items inside. The biggest item Annie Murphy and her team at Eco Relics have salvaged so far from the building is the bar top from Hooters. It's for sale at their shop on Stockton Street. “We’re all about keeping stuff out of landfills, that’s our mission,” Murphy said.  TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  They expect to salvage up to 160 items from the iconic landmark before it is torn down, from doors and windows to artwork and lighting. “It is really cool to see people recognizing certain things, longtime Jacksonville residents,” Murphy said. She said they were able to salvage some items inside the buildings along the river earlier this month. They can’t access the rest of the building until the last tenant moves out in October. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories A city spokesperson said over the next couple of weeks, the contractor will be stripping out items not attached to the building structure and then heavy equipment will begin the demolition. It’s expected to be complete by June 2020. Murphy said the pieces of Jacksonville history her team pulls from the building will be for sale as they’re salvaged.
  • A red 1992 Nissan 300ZX four-door car that took a father and son three years to build was totaled by a hit-and-run driver in Jacksonville on  Thursday.  The owner of the vehicle, Mark Manaois, exclusively spoke to Action News Jax after reporting the crash to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said his neighbor’s home surveillance camera caught a driver in a commercial truck hitting the car around 6 a.m. and immediately driving off in the Waterleaf community in East Arlington.  TRENDING:   Window decal allows Clay deputies to stop your car in the early-morning hours without cause Health inspectors found dozens of roaches at Little Caesars, Crafty Crab Missing woman who may have been carjacked by her boyfriend texted for help, JSO report says Minshew mania, Jalen Ramsey, Mike Tyson and a wedding at the Jags vs. Titans game Plan to change St. Augustine traffic patterns prompts concern from locals  “He (driver) just kept on going, didn’t even check to see if anyone was in the car or any debris,” Manaois said. “He just kept on going as if he didn’t even hit the car and then he got the heck out of Dodge.” Action News Jax is working to find who owns the truck and what the driver was doing in the Waterleaf community in the early morning. Manaois said police are also searching for the commercial truck.  “It’s kind of dangerous, especially with the neighborhood, to know someone is just going through like that,” Manaois said. “It’s 6 o’clock in the morning, high schoolers are walking around at this time.” Manaois said he spent several years building and buying parts for the car with his family and friends. STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories   He and his girlfriend, Melissa Buck, said they were shocked to see this “reckless” behavior in their nice neighborhood.  “It’s so sad that it finally came into fruition and then someone destroyed it and ran way, didn’t even check to see if there was someone in the car,” Buck said.  Neighbors are sharing the video in hopes someone might recognize the truck or driver. The drivers appears to be driving a landscaping truck. Action News Jax is working to find who owns the truck.  Anyone with information can call police or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers. “He gunned it out of the neighborhood, full speed. Scary.” Surveillance video shows a truck slam into a man's car and drive off. (Watch the left side of the screen.) The owner says his car is totaled. How they're trying to track down the driver NEXT on @ActionNewsJax. #EXCLUSIVE pic.twitter.com/p4sGPpAofL — Elizabeth Pace (@PaceAnJax) September 20, 2019

The Latest News Headlines

  • As the city prepares to demolish the Jacksonville Landing, a team is working to salvage some of the items inside. The biggest item Annie Murphy and her team at Eco Relics have salvaged so far from the building is the bar top from Hooters. It's for sale at their shop on Stockton Street.  'We're all about keeping stuff out of landfills, that's our mission,' Murphy said.  They expect to salvage up to 160 items from the iconic landmark before it is torn down, from doors and windows to artwork and lighting.  'It is really cool to see people recognizing certain things, longtime Jacksonville residents,' Murphy said.  She said they were able to salvage some items inside the buildings along the river earlier this month. They can't access the rest of the building until the last tenant moves out in October.  A city spokesperson said over the next couple of weeks, the contractor will be stripping out items not attached to the building structure and then heavy equipment will begin the demolition.  It's expected to be complete by June 2020.  Murphy said the pieces of Jacksonville history her team pulls from the building will be for sale as they're salvaged.
  • A North Carolina sheriff stands accused of urging the murder of a former deputy who had a recording of him using racially offensive language, authorities say. Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, according to court records. Wilkins is accused of trying to get another man to kill former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who he believed was going to expose his racist talk. >> Read more trending news  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is prosecuting the case, said Wilkins' Aug. 12, 2014, phone conversation with the 'well-known' man who threatened Joshua Freeman's life was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. Lorrin Freeman and Joshua Freeman are not related. Joshua Freeman worked for the Sheriff's Office from November 2011 to August 2014 but was let go in the days leading up to Wilkins' alleged crimes, WRAL in Raleigh reported. Wilkins, who was reelected in 2018 for a third four-year term, is accused of advising the unnamed man to kill Joshua Freeman, 'whom the defendant knew to have expressed his intention to soon publicly reveal a purported audio recording of the sheriff using racially offensive language to authorities in Raleigh,' the indictment states. The court records do not detail what Wilkins is alleged to have said, or what ultimately happened to the recording of his words. The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to 'take care of it' and said, 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.' According to the indictment, Wilkins counseled the would-be gunman on how to kill Joshua Freeman in a way to avoid getting caught. He offered two tips, according to the document: Get rid of the murder weapon and keep quiet. 'You ain't got the weapon, you ain't got nothing to go on,' Wilkins allegedly told the man, the court records allege. 'The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing.' Wilkins and the individual discussed a time in which to kill Joshua Freeman and a location that would ensure it would be Wilkins' own Granville County Sheriff's Office investigators who would get the case, the indictment says. Wilkins assured the man he would not tell investigators of his prior knowledge of the crime. The indictment accuses Wilkins of failing to prevent harm to Joshua Freeman or warn him of the 'credible threat' to his life. It alleges the sheriff also failed to seize the gun the other man planned to use, despite the person showing him the weapon at one point. 'The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman,' the indictment states. Joshua Freeman was never harmed, though the indictment offers no indication why the alleged plot failed. Wilkins went before a magistrate Monday and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Court records show he was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictment. He was also ordered to surrender his passport, if he has one. Read the indictment against Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins below.  Brindell Wilkins Indictment by National Content Desk on Scribd 'No one is above the law,' Lorrin Freeman said Monday, according to WRAL. 'It is always painful when someone who has the public trust faces these types of allegations for voters who put them in that place. 'Any time you have someone who is sworn to uphold the public trust, to protect their community, to investigate and report crimes, allegedly engage in this type of conduct, it is something that needs to be brought to justice, and so we will continue to follow the evidence in this case.' Several followers of Wilkins' public Facebook page offered support in the wake of the indictment. 'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. Waters said he immediately turned the tape over to the FBI. The Washington Post reported that Waters met with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents about the recording in January 2017, but nothing happened. 'Quite frankly, it did not get to the top of their investigative list,' Lorrin Freeman told WRAL about SBI agents. Waters gave the recording to a different SBI agent in October 2018, but still, no investigation was initiated, the Post reported. That is when Waters turned to Lorrin Freeman to initiate a probe into the sheriff. She agreed. 'I have reviewed this recording,' Lorrin Freeman wrote to SBI agents, according to the Post. 'It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.' In his Facebook statement, Waters expressed frustration at the amount of time it took to get an investigation going. 'At all times since (turning over the recording), I have provided assistance to investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority,' Waters wrote. 'I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious.' He wrote that any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, particularly when they involve a sheriff elected by the community. 'Over the next few months, my office will continue to lend assistance to the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law and seeing that justice is administered,' Waters said. WRAL reported Lorrin Freeman said she worked to obtain obstruction charges against Wilkins because obstruction would be easier to prove in the five-year old case than solicitation of murder or conspiracy. The Granville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the indictment, but County Attorney Jim Wrenn said the board has no authority to remove Wilkins, an elected official, from office as his criminal case winds its way through the court system, WRAL reported. Lorrin Freeman confirmed that fact to the News & Observer. 'Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses, until convicted,' Freeman told the newspaper. Spectrum News' Charlotte bureau reported that Wilkins has indicated he will not step down. Wrenn said he is considering trying to get Wilkins out of office through the courts but wants to hear the recording himself before making that decision. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, said state law has a provision allowing a judge to suspend a sheriff and allow a county commission to appoint a temporary replacement pending the outcome of a criminal case. 'The statute is there to allow removal of sheriff,' Cohen told Spectrum News. 'One of six causes is, in fact, conviction of felony. Others are some of the things in his indictment, like willful misconduct, corruption, willful neglect or refusal to perform duties of his office. Some of them match the charges in his indictment.' The News & Observer reported that the probe into Wilkins' alleged actions against Joshua Freeman has led to investigations of the Granville County Sheriff's Office's accounting practices, as well as the operations of its drug unit. Freeman was a member of the drug unit when he was with the agency. 'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
  • President Donald Trump called reports that a U.S. intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint against him last month 'a ridiculous story' while speaking Friday to reporters in the Oval Office. >> Read more trending news  According to the Washington Post, the president made an unspecified 'promise' to an unidentified foreign leader that concerned the intelligence official. The official filed a complaint Aug. 12, two anonymous former U.S. officials told the newspaper, though lawmakers said Thursday they had yet to see the complaint. The intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal the substance of the complaint. Update 7:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a statement on the whistleblower's complaint against President Trump. In it, Biden describes Trump's alleged behavior as 'abhorrent' and calls on him to release a full transcript of the call 'so that the American people can be judged for themselves.' The entire statement reads: Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Sept 20: The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani to determine whether Biden 'worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden.'  Trump made the request about eight times during a phone call in July, according to the Journal. Trump was asked Friday if be brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, 'It doesn't matter what I discussed.' But then he used the moment to urge the media 'to look into' Biden's background with Ukraine. Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the person behind the complaint filed against him was a 'partisan whistleblower' who 'shouldn't even have information,' though he added that he did not know the person's identity. 'I don't even know exactly who you're talking about,' Trump said. 'I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.' Trump said Friday that he's spoken with several world leaders and that his conversations with them were 'always appropriate.' Details surrounding the complaint remained unclear Friday afternoon, though The Washington Post and The New York Times reported at least some of the allegations centered on Ukraine. Both newspapers cited unidentified sources. Asked if he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centered on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the president responded 'I really don't know' but continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was 'perfectly fine and respectful.' Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: The whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump centers around Ukraine, two anonymous sources confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday evening. The New York Times and ABC News are also citing anonymous sources, saying the complaint involves Ukraine. It's not clear exactly how Ukraine fits into the allegations. However, Trump spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, the Post reported. That call was already under investigation by House Democrats, who are looking into whether Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping with Trump's re-election campaign, according to The Post. Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Massachusetts man in his 70s has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, state health officials said Friday. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the man was a resident of Freetown, a town about 50 miles south of Boston, according to WFXT. 'Our most sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers go out to the victim, to their family and their loved ones,' town officials said in a news release. The man was identified as having the 10th confirmed human case of EEE in the state. Officials said eight other cases of EEE have been confirmed in animals, including seven horses and a goat. The man's death was the second reported in the state from EEE. At least two other EEE-related deaths have been reported in recent weeks in Rhode Island and Michigan. 'We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,' Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Friday in a news release. “The unusually warm weather expected this weekend will increase outdoor activity among people and mosquitoes. It is absolutely essential that people take steps to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.” Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several cases of EEE are reported each year, most often in states along the Gulf Coast. The mosquito-borne virus is rare, but serious, and can affect people of all ages, Massachusetts health officials said. Boston25News.com contributed to this report.
  • Here is a look at what impeachment is and why it doesn’t necessarily mean removal from office. How does impeachment work? Impeachment was established by the framers of the Constitution as a way to accuse a president of a crime and to hold a trial to determine if he is guilty of that crime. The Constitution lays out two specific actions, treason and bribery, that could lead to impeachment and removal of a president from office. The system also allows for a broader category to accuse a president of crime, although that category is more vague. A president can also be charged with and found guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” What exactly constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors is not defined in the Constitution, making impeachment on that basis more difficult. By design, it is not easy to get rid of a president. Here are the steps in the process for impeaching a president: First, an impeachment resolution must be introduced by a member of the House of Representatives. The speaker of the House must then direct the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (or a special committee) to hold a hearing on the resolution to decide whether to put the measure to a vote by the full chamber and when to hold such a vote. A simple majority of the Judiciary Committee must approve the resolution. If the Judiciary Committee approves the resolution, it moves to a full vote on the House floor. If a simple majority of the those present and voting in the House approve an article of impeachment, then the president is impeached. The procedure then moves to the Senate where a “trial” is held to determine if the president committed a crime. There is no set procedure for the trial. How it is conducted would be set by the Senate leadership. Members of the House serve as “managers” in the Senate trial. Managers serve a similar role as prosecutors do in a criminal trial, they present evidence during the procedure. The president would have counsel to represent him at the Senate process. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial. Senators listen to the evidence presented, including closing arguments from each side and retire to deliberate. Senators then reconvene and vote on whether the president is guilty or not guilty of the crimes he is accused of. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict. If the president is found guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president is sworn-in as president. The hearing in the Senate, along with a charge in the House that the president has committed a crime is not a legal one. No penalty, other than removal from office, is brought against a president in an impeachment hearing. Impeachment trials have been held twice in the country’s history -- for President Andrew Johnson and for President Bill Clinton -- and both ended in acquittals: meaning the presidents were impeached by the House, but not convicted and removed from office by the Senate. One vote kept Johnson from being convicted of firing the secretary of war in 1868, which went against a tenure act. In 1999, the Senate was 22 votes shy of convicting Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Paula Jones.

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