Oral surgeon charged with sexually assaulting patients now under investigation for Medicaid billing concerns

The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners is investigating the unusual billing trends of Dr. Michael Hassan, the same Wilmington oral surgeon already facing dozens of criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting his female patients while they were sedated.

  Lennon Lacy FBI File: How authorities determined suicide, not lynching

  Man wrongfully convicted in Bladen Co. double murder passes away

  NHCS provides redacted meeting minutes offering little insight into pay out of former superintendent

  WECT Investigates update: Parent gets partial refund after college suspends courses due to COVID-19

  WECT Investigates: Father of slain two-year-old frustrated over standstill in homicide investigation

  Who’s getting stuck first? Vaccine details still unclear as NC hospitals receive first shipments

Continued Coverage

  Medical examiner takes over a year to return autopsy reports in deaths of children

  New Details in SBI investigation into ‘signed’ Trump hats

  Trials in gyms, cases delayed: With NC pandemic logjam, justice ‘slow as molasses’

  Criminal investigation underway after Trump hats auctioned off at political fundraiser

  From condo owners to the town, how Carolina Beach claims ownership of Freeman Park’s entrance

  Split appeals court upholds ruling on hog farm’s liability, kicks back multi-million dollar damages

Even with protections, thousands face eviction in N.C.

Thousands of North Carolinians have been forced from their homes this year, despite a pair of orders from the Governor banning evictions Leegraciea Lewis, who was forced from her apartment and is now living in an extended stay hotel, is one of them.

  Your Election Day vote may not be showing up yet online. That’s normal in NC.

Election administrators across North Carolina continue to update the information of people who voted on election day, even as calls increase for that information to be made public much sooner. But the process is working on schedule, just as it always has.

  CFCC releases travel expenses for president, trustees

Records confirm trustees spent approximately $7,000 over the past three years.

  Nurse practitioner field grapples with question of whether to standardize curriculum nationwide

Nurse practitioners are questioning their own education at some colleges. There’s no national standard on how to educate nurse practitioners, while medical education for doctors was standardized more than 100 years ago.

  NC Democrats hope to flip these 4 seats blue, and they’re spending big to do it

  Veterans being displaced after nursing home loses contract with VA

  A grieving family asks: Why aren’t county jails doing more to stop spread of COVID-19?

  Some residents concerned about sheriff’s large acquisition of military surplus equipment

  Court decisions move voters out of by-mail limbo, but the clock is ticking

  State auditor intervenes after WECT Investigates team notices questionable CFCC policy

  NC among last states to make death records electronic

North Carolina will soon launch a pilot program to begin digitizing electronic death records. It is currently one of just three states still processing death certificates by hand, which has made it hard to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on the state's mortality rate.

Innocent men were sent to prison and released decades later. Now Gov. Cooper won’t pardon them

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has refused to meet with or take any action to pardon four men who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. As a result, those men cannot get any compensation from the state.

  AG’s PFAS lawsuit welcome news for advocates as it joins litany of litigation

The last few weeks have seen continued developments in the exploration of GenX and other PFAS.

  NC attorney general sues DuPont, Chemours over PFAS contamination

The lawsuit joins other litigation already pending against the companies.

  Emails reveal NC’s early steps to prepare for pandemic

Emails obtained by the NC Watchdog Reporting Network show the early days of North Carolina's pandemic response.

  In NC, consequences of Postal Service slowdown extend beyond the mailbox

Weeks before a pivotal election and in the midst of a global pandemic, North Carolinians are also concerned about the mail.

  DEQ issues permit for water treatment system at Chemours site

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has issued a permit for a water treatment system at Chemours' Fayetteville Works site to remove PFAS from a contaminated stream that flows into the Cape Fear River, state officials announced Friday.

  WECT Investigates: Students involuntarily withdrawn from college training program, not offered refunds

Students say they are being involuntarily withdrawn from their training program, effectively losing credit for all of their studies up to this point, and still being required to pay for that coursework.

CFPUA files motion to intervene in North Carolina’s complaint against Chemours

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has filed a motion in Bladen County Superior Court to be granted “equal standing with the State and Cape Fear River Watch in negotiations about measures Chemours must take to address the company’s PFAS releases, including contamination in the drinking water of CFPU

  As early voting days approach, some NC counties still need poll workers

At least a quarter of North Carolina’s counties are struggling to recruit poll workers for the 2020 election.

  Part Four: Cover-Up Culture? WECT Investigates how the embattled NHCS system can move forward and heal from decades of abuse

WECT Investigates looks at the next steps for New Hanover County Schools from the perspective of those involved.

  WECT Investigates: Homeowner learns contractor operating without a license

The homeowner said he was shocked when the builder then hired an attorney to go after him for the unpaid balance, and placed a lien request on his home.

  Part Three: Cover-Up Culture? WECT Investigates claims of retaliation in the face of abuse reports at NHCS

A closer look at claims reports and complaints of sexual abuse resulted in retaliation.

  R.C. Soles placed on ‘disability inactive status,’ State Bar investigation suspended

Soles requested the change in 2019, and the bar agreed. As a result, an investigation into pending claims that he mishandled clients’ money was put on hold.

  NC needs more poll workers this year, but the pandemic has made them harder to find

Poll workers are integral in the elections process.

  Part Two: Cover-Up Culture? - WECT Investigates administrators’ response to sexual abuse at New Hanover County Schools

WECT Investigates took a look at decades of admitted and alleged sexual abuse by New Hanover County Schools employees, and how administrators handled allegations and complaints.

  DEQ, Chemours agree to further PFAS control measures; CFPUA ‘surprised’ by proposal

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours have agreed to additional PFAS control measures that will help control groundwater-related impacts of the toxic chemicals at Chemours’ Fayetteville Works site.

As COVID-19 spikes in some ZIP codes, causes aren’t always clear

Many of the ZIP codes throughout the state with the highest infection rates have similar characteristics, but that doesn't mean it's easy to tell why the virus is spreading.

  Detective’s tactics questioned after more charges dropped for lack of evidence

After WECT aired a story about Bader’s case, where WPD dropped child sex assault charges against him for lack of evidence after his highly publicized arrest, another man came forward to say the same thing had happened to him at the hands of the same detective.

  How the state chose cooperation over public information and meatpacking plant virus cases went unpublished

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says she stands by the decision not to publish outbreaks by facility.

  Sheriff’s office ordered to hand over investigative files in New Hanover County teacher sex scandal

The New Hanover County School board sought the release of those documents in September 2019, to use to defend themselves in a civil lawsuit filed against them by victims of Michael Kelly.

NC attorney general announces formal investigation into PFAS contamination

Attorney General Josh Stein on Monday announced that his office has launched a formal investigation into the manufacturers and other entities responsible for the per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in North Carolina.

  Part One: Cover-Up Culture? - WECT Investigates decades of sexual abuse at New Hanover County Schools

WECT Investigates took a deep dive into decades of admitted and alleged sexual abuse by New Hanover County Schools employees.

  As COVID-19 spread in meatpacking plants, workplace complaints piled up

Of 75 complaints and referrals related to COVID-19 and the meat packing industry through July 15, none have prompted fines or even a site visit, the NC labor department says.

  NC virus testing started slow, pace gradually catching up to national average

Documents obtained by the N.C. Watchdog Reporting Network show state health leaders waited until mid-April to begin formulating a comprehensive state-wide testing plan. At the same time, North Carolina was slipping to the bottom of the back in per-capita testing compared to other states.

  Fired WPD officer files appeal, claims wrongful termination

Officer Gilmore: "I believe my speech is protected by the First Amendment of the United State Constitution and my termination is without cause."

NC still lacks plan for regular mass testing in nursing homes

North Carolina lacks a plan for regular testing for staff and residents in nursing homes and lags other states in even ordering mandatory one-time testing. Experts say that could cost lives.

  CFCC provides heavily redacted legal bills after WECT hires attorney

After repeatedly refusing to provide itemized bills for the college’s legal expenses, insisting the bills from their attorney were protected by attorney-client privilege, CFCC changed course and gave those documents to WECT at the end of June.

Cooper calls death records secrecy bill ‘problematic’ as lawmakers weigh changes

Gov. Roy Cooper said he has concerns about the language under scrutiny.

  Top lawmaker says NCGA will ‘revisit and correct’ bill that would limit access to death investigation records

Days after the North Carolina legislature’s passage of a bill that includes a measure to further restrict death investigation records from public access, some lawmakers say they plan to walk back the provision.

  NHRMC releases COVID-19 data as state rep. demands NC harden virus directives to hospitals

Three months in, the Cape Fear region's main hospital is giving more details, but one state leader says more needs to be done.

  As COVID-19 patients increase, hospitals prepare for surge

Leaders at health systems around the state say a combination of better medical care and larger stockpiles of protective gear mean they can handle surges in COVID-19 patients more effectively today than they could three months ago. But those same leaders warn that the additional capacity still has a

NC kept moving hundreds of inmates during pandemic. Experts say that increased risks.

NC prison officials transferred more than 1,000 inmates between various prisons in April and May, at a time when they said inmate movement had been largely restricted. Experts say each inmate movement increased the risk of spreading the virus.

  How do cops use force in NC? Most agencies won’t say

Nationwide, transparency advocates have pushed for the release of use-of-force records themselves, which provide far greater detail on each incident and the law enforcement officers involved.

  Experts, judge voice concern as NC’s prisons resume moving inmates amid COVID-19 spread

Some medical experts expressed concern that resuming transfers would increase the chances that COVID-19 would be spread further inside the prisons.

  Embattled professor responds to questions about discrepancies on his resume

Some viewed the now-tenured professor as untouchable because of first amendment protections of his free speech, but new questions about claims on Adams’ resume may be his undoing.

WPD Interim Chief Donny Williams addresses the death of George Floyd

Donny Williams, Interim chief of the Wilmington Police Department, wrote in a Twitter post, Friday afternoon, that he was deeply troubled by what he saw happen to George Floyd.

Brunswick County Sheriff expresses disgust over the actions that led to George Floyd’s death

"The heinous act perpetrated on George Floyd was reprehensible."

  NC limits information on meatpacking plants’ COVID-19 outbreaks as case numbers grow

“The virus gets into a meat plant and that can turn disastrous,” one expert says.

Media coalition sues Cooper, cabinet agencies for COVID-19 records

A coalition of more than two dozen media outlets filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking the release of a list of records related to COVID-19 that the state had, so far, refused to provide.

EPA regional staff was ‘unaware’ of GenX consent order, probe finds

An investigation by the internal watchdog for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found “insufficient communication and coordination” within the agency allowed DuPont, and later Chemours, to discharge the toxic compound GenX into the Cape Fear River virtually unchecked for nearly a decade.

  CFCC refusing to disclose itemized bills or reason for recent spike in attorney’s fees

CFCC has repeatedly refused to disclose itemized legal bills, or to explain the surge in expenses, saying the bills are protected by attorney-client privilege. Public records law experts say otherwise.

Senate leader demands answers after report about prison nurse’s COVID-19 death

Barbara Anne Stewart died May 7 at a Danville, Virginia, hospital at the age of 57, about a month after she tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

  Wrong video conference help line routes to scammers

Incorrect tech support numbers posted on the internet lead to scammers trying to trick consumers into giving up their credit card information.

Nurse’s COVID-19 death raises questions about delayed testing at NC prison

One week after the nurse died, prison officials began offering a limited run of free testing to staff members at off-site locations across the state.

  Federal grand jury declines to bring charges against Chemours regarding Clean Water Act

An investigation into the conduct of Chemours at its Fayetteville Works plant did not result in federal criminal charges.

  Canceled by COVID: Loss of 2020 Azalea Festival will cost Cape Fear economy millions

The 73rd annual Azalea Festival was canceled because of COVID-19.

Experts: Without more COVID-19 testing, “more people will die” in prisons

When little testing is done, undetected cases of COVID-19 are inevitable, said one expert.

  Work to repair an ‘inactive’ dike could pick up this week after decades of neglect

A Wilmington-based engineering firm is scheduled to begin drilling work this week in the Kelly area in Bladen County in what would mark the first significant work to bring a dike back into working order and protect citizens in the area from potential flooding dangers.

  Dozens of nursing homes cited for infection-related deficiencies early this year now have COVID-19 cases

An analysis of state nursing home inspections and records of COVID-19 infections associated with nursing homes by the Washington Post reveals dozens of facilities had infection-related violations in the months before coronavirus infections.

Records reveal data gaps in one of NC’s key COVID-19 metrics

An analysis of limited data provided by the state shows significant gaps exist in responses to the survey, sometimes from the state’s largest hospitals.

  WPD: Man charged with Monday night shooting on Princess Place Drive

The Wilmington Police Department has arrested and charged a man in connection with a shooting Monday night.

  The pandemic will drive up election costs, and so far NC isn’t ready

Despite the urgent need for funding — the 2020 general election is less than six months away — North Carolina lawmakers have yet to substantively address requests made by the state board of elections.

Elizabethtown police investigating fatal shooting

After a shooting that occurred May 4, Elizabethtown police has launched a homicide investigation.

  History of deficiencies at many NC nursing homes with big outbreaks

Statewide, cases at those facilities account for nearly 18% of all laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus and more than half of the total deaths reported in the state.

  Drug Dependence: COVID-19 weakens already fragile U.S. drug supply

Unlike many other countries, the FDA doesn't require a "made in" label on drugs, even though the federal agency estimates 80% of the ingredients and 40% of the finished drugs are manufactured overseas.

UPDATE: City manager authorized to look into allegations within police department

When council came out of the closed session, Mayor Craig Caster stated, “In our closed session, our manager was given authorization to look into the allegations presented in the special meeting about the police department.”

  Officer alleges police chief made lewd remarks to women; closed meeting scheduled

Boiling Spring Lakes Commissioners have called a closed session meeting to discuss personnel, just days after receiving a complaint from a member of the police department alleging sexual harassment and uneven discipline polices by the new chief of police.