Democratic chief owes $286,000 in back taxes
RALEIGH (AP) Court records show the new head of the North Carolina Democratic Party owes nearly $286,000 in back taxes and penalties.
Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller was elected party chair earlier this month, pledging to rebuild an organization still reeling from defeats at the ballot box in November.
Records show the North Carolina Department of Revenue filed a 2010 lien against Voller and his wife with a remaining balance of nearly $98,801. The following year, the Internal Revenue Service filed a second lien with a remaining balance of nearly $187,715.
A real estate developer, Voller said Wednesday his family business was a casualty of the national economic downturn, which triggered a credit freeze in the homebuilding industry.
Voller, 44, said he is making monthly payments to the state that has brought his current balance lower than what's on records obtained by The Associated Press, to about $67,000. He said he is negotiating with the IRS on a payment plan to settle the rest of that debt.
Voller stressed that he filed his taxes on time and that he is working diligently to pay what's owed without being forced into bankruptcy, as many developers have. Now that the real estate market is showing signs of life, he said he is confident he can pay off his tax liabilities by the end of 2013.
“We're keeping our obligations, but it has been very tough,” Voller said. “That's why I feel that as party chair I have a real good insight into what a lot of folks are dealing with here in North Carolina.”
Voller said he recognized his personal troubles were likely to become political fodder, so he has spoken about the issue at party events. He also included mention of the tax debt in materials posted online as part of his recent campaign for state party chair.
Voller was in business with his father when the housing boom went bust in 2008. Though a lot of people who owed them money refused to pay, Voller said he sold off assets to raise cash and pay bills for the business with the intention of using a line of credit to pay the taxes owed for capital gains at the end of the year.
But when he tried to leverage his property holdings to get a loan and pay his tax bill, Voller said credit with the banks had dried up. Then his father got sick, dying last year at age 71.
“This is an emotional issue for me,” Voller said. “My feeling is most North Carolinians understand what it's like to actually go out here and try to create jobs and fight. I think it gives me a lot of empathy for people in the state who have tried to do what's right, help their family and still end up in a tough circumstance.”Woman sentenced on child porn charges
WILMINGTON (AP) A Fayetteville woman has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after federal prosecutors say she drugged a child and produced pornographic images while the child was unconscious.
U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker said Catina Martell was also sentenced to supervised release for life.
Martell pleaded guilty last November to one count of manufacturing/producing child pornography.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney's office said Fayetteville police discovered in August 2011 that the 38-year-old Martell had drugged a child, then used the child to produce the images. Investigators conducted a forensics review of Martell's computer and found numerous images of child pornography.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations office in Raleigh was contacted because it was determined that Martell was sharing the images internationally.
Martell was sentenced on Feb. 22.Hearing debates merits of Onslow rock quarry
JACKSONVILLE (AP) There's a debate on whether an 1,800-acre rock quarry should be permitted in Onslow County.
The Daily News of Jacksonville reports a public hearing on the project was held Tuesday.
It's the second time Martin Marietta Materials is seeking a permit to open the quarry.
A lawyer representing residents opposed to the quarry and a consultant for Martin Marietta disagreed about the effects of the quarry and whether it would affect the aquifer that provides tap water for the region. They also debated whether the quarry would cause sinkholes in the area.
If the county grants the quarry permit, the company would then have to get a mining permit from the state. The entire permitting process could take five years.Farmers want help on immigration solution
RALEIGH (AP) North Carolina farmers want state legislators to lobby Congress to pass an immigration law overhaul so they can hire more people to work in fields and the state's agriculture industry can meet increasing food demands worldwide.
About 300 people associated with the North Carolina Farm Bureau visited the Legislative Building on Wednesday and held a news conference to discuss a survey of state farmers.
The bureau said farmers are worried about losing income, downsizing operations or in some cases shutting down if a state-mandated E-Verify requirement stays in place without an improved federal guest-worker program.
Companies that employ as few as 25 workers will have to check work authorizations starting this July, although there are exemptions for some seasonal workers.Marine sought in death of baby kills himself
JACKSONVILLE (AP) Authorities say a Marine wanted for questioning in the death of his 11-month-old child has killed himself.
The Daily News of Jacksonville reported that police responded Tuesday afternoon to a report of a child not breathing. The child died at Onslow Memorial Hospital.
On Wednesday, Jacksonville police learned the Marine they wanted to question in the child's death was dead.
Craven County Sheriff Jerry Monette said a Trent Woods police officer responded to a call of an unidentified man at a house. While at the scene, an officer heard a gunshot coming from inside a pickup truck and found the Marine.Coble discharged from hospital after tests
GREENSBORO (AP) Rep. Howard Coble is out of a Greensboro hospital after undergoing tests for dizziness.
A statement from Coble's office Wednesday said after a battery of tests, the 6th District Republican lawmaker was advised that all of his vital signs were good and that doctors could find no direct cause of the fainting spells.
Doctors at Moses Cone Hospital recommended that the 81-year-old representative wear a heart monitor to see if there is any connection to an irregular heartbeat and the light-headedness.
Coble said in the statement that he would make an attempt to eat healthier and better balanced meals in the future. But he also he won't be adjusting his work schedule in Washington.
If nothing changes, Coble plans to fly back to Washington next Monday.Statesville precious metals dealer arrested
STATESVILLE (AP) A precious metals dealer in Statesville has been arrested and charged with accepting stolen jewelry.
Iredell County Sheriff's Maj. Darrin Campbell says 53-year-old Phillip Bruce Razor of Catawba has been charged with possession of stolen weapons, precious metal violations, trafficking in controlled substances and trafficking in fraudulent identifications.
Campbell says officers had been investigating Razor and his North Carolina Gold and Diamond Exchange for six months.
Authorities said they began investigating after getting tips that Razor might be purchasing stolen property and precious metals without identifying the seller.
Investigators say they found stolen weapons and other items in the store.Ex-businessman faces prison for Ponzi scheme
ASHEVILLE (AP) A former Asheville businessman accused of running a Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of more than $13 million over a decade has been sentenced to 32 years in federal prison.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the sentence for James W. “Bill” Bailey Jr. came down Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Prosecutors say the 65-year-old Bailey took money from investors and paid returns with money from subsequent investors instead of from actual profits.
The government said Bailey led investors to believe that their money was in an account held by Southern Financial Services, which he operated. Instead, prosecutors said he commingled funds from other frauds to buy the properties.
Bailey must forfeit 12 properties he owns and funds in five bank accounts as part of his deal with federal prosecutors.Warrant: Suspect had bomb making supplies
DURHAM (AP) Search warrants indicate the man accused of shooting an N.C. Highway Patrol trooper had bomb-making materials in his Durham apartment.
The warrant is dated Feb. 20 and was released Wednesday. It says authorities found PVC piping, nails and other items later learned to be bomb making items.
According to the warrant, an earlier search of the apartment revealed a digital camera with instructions on how to make bombs.
Also found was a large map of Durham on the bedroom wall with locations of police, fire and EMS stations marked.
Authorities charged 23-year-old Mikel Edward Brady with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in the Feb. 19 shooting of Trooper Michael Potts. Brady's girlfriend, 21-year-old Lindsey Smith, is charged with accessory after the fact and harboring a fugitive.Lawmakers OK tougher funeral protest penalties
RALEIGH (AP) Higher proposed criminal penalties for people who disrupt North Carolina funerals or memorial services are heading to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk for his signature.
The General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to a measure that is in response to an anti-gay Kansas church picketing military funerals nationwide.
The measure requires protesters to stay farther away from mourners.