VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina's largest county issues stay-at-home order
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Leaders of North Carolina's largest county have approved a "stay-at-home" order for residents in and around Charlotte as the number of cases of the new coronavirus there have taken off. Starting Thursday people in Mecklenburg County largely must stay in their homes except for going to grocery and drug stores, making medical appointments and exercising. Restaurant takeout and delivery can continue. Those whose employment is deemed essential can keep going to work. Mecklenburg's decision contrasts with North Carolina government, which has required incremental expanded business closings and tightened assembly limitations. State health officials now count roughly 400 COVID-19 cases.
Voter ID ruling remains as appeals court nixes rehearing
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court has rejected a request by Republican lawmakers for its full cadre of judges to decide whether it was legally appropriate to block implementing voter photo identification. The Court of Appeals denied on Tuesday the motion by GOP legislators asking the entire court rehear questions ruled on last month by three of the court's 15 judges. That panel declared the photo ID requirement should have been halted months ago because of questions about its constitutionality. The state court injunction likely means a voter ID requirement won't be carried out in the fall elections unless the state Supreme Court steps in.
DEPUTIES SEIZE COCAINE
Deputies seize cocaine with estimated street value of $3.5M
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Deputies in North Carolina say they've seized cocaine worth an estimated $3.5 million from a storage locker and related searches. A news release from the Durham County Sheriff's Office said busts that netted 16 kilograms (35 pounds) of uncut cocaine were coordinated with the Craven County Sheriff's office and state and federal investigators. Authorities say the seizure was preceded by a tip in Craven County that led deputies there to a traffic stop on March 19. Information from that traffic stop led Durham County deputies to a storage locker where they found most of the cocaine. In Craven County, deputies seized drugs, firearms and $175,000 in cash.
WALMART DEBT FRAUD
Group accused of impersonating Walmart execs, scamming $900K
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Court documents say a group of North Carolina counterfeiters has been accused of impersonating Walmart executives and scamming stores out of about $900,000. The multicourt indictment unsealed this month by the Charlotte U.S. attorney’s office accused 34-year-old Andre Marquese White of being a member of the counterfeit ring. He was charged with counterfeiting, wire fraud and other crimes. White pleaded not guilty last week. Court documents say counterfeiters presented themselves as Walmart executives in stores in 30 states and persuaded inexperienced cashiers to cash fake checks for pre-paid debit cards. Court documents say the group would use the cards to make purchases they would later return for cash.
Search underway for small plane near North Carolina coast
EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard says its crews are searching for survivors of a plane that crashed near the North Carolina coast. The Coast Guard said in a statement Tuesday that two people were reportedly on board the Cessna aircraft. It dropped from the radar about 12 miles southeast of Bogue Inlet at about 11 p.m. on Monday night. Bogue Inlet is near Emerald Isle. The Coast Guard has launched crews aboard two aircraft and two boats to search for the plane and the people on board.
North Carolina police officer charged with sexual battery
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police department says an officer has been charged with inappropriately touching a woman while responding to a 911 call. Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson said in a statement that 37-year-old officer Harry Lee White III was charged with sexual battery and resigned from his post Monday. The statement said White was accused of grabbing the woman at a hotel where he was dispatched early in the morning Feb. 20. The former officer was booked into jail and is set to appear in court in May. It's unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.
Textile mill leading push to make 10(m) face masks per week
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina textile company is organizing a national effort to produce up to 10 million face masks per week for healthcare workers as they treat coronavirus patients. The Charlotte Observer reports that Gastonia-based Parkdale Mills Inc. is working with companies such as Hanesbrand, Fruit of the Loom and others to build a manufacturing supply chain for the masks. Parkdale is one of the country's largest yarn spinners. The National Council of Textile Organizations said in a news release that the companies are often competitors in the marketplace, but are banding together "for the greater good of a nation facing one of its most monumental challenges.”
SUPREME COURT-PIRATE SHIP
North Carolina wins court piracy case over Blackbeard's ship