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Latest from Veronica Waters

    A few keystrokes online could match you up with a life insurance payout you did not even know you were due. Georgia leads the nation when it comes to matching people with misplaced life insurance. This is thanks in part to a service launched a year ago by the State Insurance Commissioner and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The ‘Life Insurance Policy Locator’ is a free service that “streamlines and simplifies the process for consumers,” State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said in a statement.  The Commissioner’s office said that with the new service, Georgian’s requests are encrypted and secured to maintain confidentiality. “Participating insurers will compare submitted requests with available policyholder information and report all matches to state insurance departments through the locator,” the statement read, “Companies will then contact beneficiaries or their authorized representatives.” State Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence tells WSB the service is invaluable. “People thought that it was worthwhile during their life to spend this money to give you a benefit upon their death,” Florence says, adding, “Whether it’s large or small, obviously they had something in mind – a need that they wanted to fill.  “If you’re talking about a widowed spouse, a life insurance benefit can mean all the difference in the world.” In the year since it has launched, one out of every six Georgians using it found something a loved one left for them. According to Consumer Reports, an estimated $1 billion in benefits from life insurance policies are unclaimed.  “The largest life insurance policy that we’ve seen come back has been over $640,000,” says Florence. Since the service went live last December, 589 Georgians have received more than $6.6 million in policy payouts. For a link to the Locator, located on the front page of the state insurance commissioner’s website, click here. 
  • The vote tally is certified in the Atlanta mayoral race, and Keisha Lance Bottoms' margin of victory has grown. Was the vote a tale of two Atlantas?  WSB Political analyst Bill Crane is unsurprised by Atlanta's election map, which shows a pretty distinctive geographical split.  'You can almost see at the precinct level, if you were to match up census tracks and ZIP codes, more affluent and whiter neighborhoods voted for Mary Norwood, and less affluent and blacker neighborhoods voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms. But that map, geographically, has largely been in place since the 1970s,' Crane says. North and east Atlanta went mostly Mary Norwood, the south and west to mayor-elect Keisha Lance Bottoms. Election officials in Fulton and DeKalb counties on Monday certified their election results, with Bottoms in the lead by 832 votes. The Associated Press points out that the outcome practically mirrored her 2009 loss to current Mayor Kasim Reed by 714 votes. Crane says coded language played a role on both sides of the mayoral race, adding, “Race became a pretty dominant issue in social media discussion, and indirectly in the advertising about who was a Democrat and who was a Republican.” Atlanta's last white mayor, Sam Massell, left office in 1974 and was succeeded over the next four decades by Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed. The AP says Atlanta’s population today is 53 percent black, with black Atlantans still constituting a majority of registered voters and overall turnout. The runoff election saw 92,169 votes cast, The AP reports – less than 20 percent of the Atlanta’s roughly 500,000 residents. “We still more likely view things – as general voters – as who most and best understands me, who’s most like me, and who is most likely to best represent me,” Crane explains, adding, “And when you get to that simplistic view, race calculates much higher than a lot of other factors.” Crane says until Atlantans blend more and learn to trust each other, racial politics will keep coming into play.
  • Basil Eleby’s case is being transferred to Fulton County behavioral court. Prosecutors say it is the right track for the accused I-85 arsonist since he has been working hard to treat his addiction. “I’d rather be sober than be the other way around,” Eleby told reporters outside the Fulton County court house Friday. “It’s a whole lot better.” Now 79 days sober, Eleby says this arrest turned his life around. “I never thought I’d get to this point,” Eleby said. “To get another chance because there are so many people out there who didn’t get another chance.” He added, “So many people out there who are still where I was a couple of months ago – out in the cold and out in the rain, and they feel like they just don’t have no way out. “Those people – they are human; most low people are just looking for a way out and they just need a chance. They just need people to believe in them.” If Eleby successfully completes the 18-month program, the arson charges will be dropped. “Good luck Mr. Eleby,” Judge Constance Russell said after the hearing. “Go forth and do well. Don’t let me read about you.”  Atlanta police alleged Eleby set fire to a shopping cart underneath I-85 last spring. The blaze eventually spread to construction material the Georgia Department of Transportation stored under the bridge and caused a chunk of the busy highway to collapse. The highway reopened six weeks later, ahead of schedule, and Eleby was charged with arson. An arson conviction for Eleby could have resulted in a severe felony sentence, but WSB senior legal analyst Ron Carlson says prosecutors would have had an uphill battle proving it. “That charge requires – under Georgia law – number one, the suspect intentionally set the fire; there were witnesses to that,” Carlson explains. “However, number two, [that] when he did so, he realized the blaze would endanger human life. “With his reported mentality of about a 15-year-old, that mental element of the charge might have been difficult for the state to prove.” Outside court Friday, Eleby’s attorneys maintained his innocence. “Basil was unfairly accused of something he did not do,” attorney Lawrence Zimmerman said. “We presented evidence from day one from polygraph tests to alibi witnesses to the state of Georgia that Basil had nothing to do with this fire whatsoever.” Zimmerman added, “The state’s been very gracious. They saw all the evidence and they also realized there was no case against Basil. “The Atlanta Police Department made a mistake.” He concluded by saying, “This is what we call justice. I’ve gotten so many phone calls from so many people around the country, from engineers that work on highways – everybody wanting to help out. “So many people believing in Basil, knowing that charging him with arson was ridiculous.” Mawuli Davis, another of Eleby’s attorneys, echoed Zimmerman’s sentiments. “Basil made it clear and has been consistent that if anything we did [would] require him to enter a plea of guilty, he would not do it – period.  “What he was crystal clear about was that he did not set that bridge fire; he didn’t do anything that caused it to catch fire and was not present when any fire was burning.” Davis added, “People can say what they want. This man stands here knowing that entering this program is in his best interest as a human being, but that he is an innocent man and will remain so.”  Before his arrest, Eleby had been homeless for about 10 years. Outside court Friday, Eleby told reporters of his hopes and dreams going forward. “I want to live and I’m going to keep pushing forward. I wanna start my own mobile detail business, or get into computers; I like computers. “And I like cleaning stuff; taking something that looks dead and making it look alive again. Eleby concluded his remarks by saying, “At first I couldn’t see the blessings I was getting out of this, but through all this crazy stuff happening and through all this time, God just took it and turned it around and gave me what I was asking for in the first place – to stay sober and to get a new way of life.”
  • Basil Eleby is entering the Fulton County Accountability Courts -- avoiding a plea deal and jail time. If the accused I-85 arsonist successfully completes the 18-month program, charges made against him will be dropped. “I never thought I’d get to this point,” Eleby told reporters outside court. “To get another chance because there are so many people out there who didn’t get another chance.” Eleby added, “So many people out there who are still where I was a couple of months ago – out in the cold and out in the rain, and they feel like they just don’t have no way out. “Those people – they are human; most low people are just looking for a way out and they just need a chance. They just need people to believe in them.” WSB senior legal analyst Ron Carlson says Fulton’s Accountability Courts slash recidivism as well as cost to taxpayers. “It’s basically a highly supervised probation program, which features treatment and rehabilitation,” Carlson explains. He adds, “Our man Basil Eleby would seem to qualify for accountability court on two grounds: number one, crack was involved in this crime and number two, there are reports he has limited mental ability.” Eleby got more restrictive addiction treatment after testing positive for drugs or alcohol twice since April. Atlanta police say Eleby set fire to a shopping cart underneath I-85 last spring. The blaze eventually spread to construction material the Georgia Department of Transportation stored under the bridge and caused a chunk of the busy highway to collapse. The highway reopened six weeks later, ahead of schedule, and Eleby was charged with arson. An arson conviction for Eleby could have resulted in a severe felony sentence, but Carlson says prosecutors would have had an uphill battle proving it. “That charge requires – under Georgia law – number one, the suspect intentionally set the fire; there were witnesses to that,” Carlson explains. “However, number two, [that] when he did so, he realized the blaze would endanger human life. “With his reported mentality of about a 15-year-old, that mental element of the charge might have been difficult for the state to prove.” Before his arrest, Eleby had been homeless for about 10 years. Outside court Friday, Eleby told reporters of his hopes and dreams going forward.  “I want to live and I’m going to keep pushing forward. I wanna start my own mobile detail business, or get into computers; I like computers. “And I like cleaning stuff; taking something that looks dead and making it look alive again. Eleby concluded his remarks by saying, “At first I couldn’t see the blessings I was getting out of this, but through all this crazy stuff happening and through all this time, God just took it and turned it around and gave me what I was asking for in the first place – to stay sober and to get a new way of life.”
  • Police say the man arrested for peeping in on UGA sororities may have some unknown victims, after recovering a stash of women’s clothing and underwear that has yet to be claimed. A detective pored over images and videos in 30-year-old Patrick McElroy's camera, finding they had been taken at night through the slats of window blinds. A 19-year-old UGA student who recently met with Athens Clarke County Police recognized her own face in videos on Patrick McElroy's camera, seeing herself dressing in her bedroom and bathroom.  Police spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez says the amount of women's clothing and underwear McElroy allegedly stole sends up red flags. “For the most part, women’s undergarments are not of value for resale,” Rodriguez tells WSB. “That’s concerning to us that he possibly was on a track of escalating the crime that he was already committing.”  First arrested in late September after a neighbor spotted a man lurking outside the window of a house where a sorority's members lived, McElroy now faces 10 peeping Tom charges, 16 burglary counts, and five larceny charges. Rodriguez says since the crimes date back four years, and detectives have found women's clothing and underwear which have not had owners identify them, some women may not know they have been victimized. 'So anyone who has any property that may be stolen, anything along these lines, may want to call us,' says Rodriguez.  McElroy lives in Madison County, but has been held without bail since his arrest. Police say he targeted his victims after meeting them as their Uber driver.  'He would pick them up at their residence, at that point knowing where they lived, then going back later on and burglarizing them,' says Rodriguez, 'and even going further later on and going back when they were home and conducting these peeping Toms.”
  • The third-place finisher in Atlanta's mayoral race is throwing her support behind runoff candidate Mary Norwood. Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard admitted she made the difficult decision mere moments before addressing reporters in a morning news conference on the steps of Atlanta City Hall on Wednesday morning. 'I did it about five minutes ago, on the roof of the parking deck,' said Woolard. 'Seriously. I did entertain the notion of not endorsing anyone--I'd like to be useful to either campaign, whoever becomes mayor--but I also realized that abdicating leadership by not making a decision really isn't who I am.'  She said she had not called either candidate before announcing her decision publicly.  Woolard, who grilled Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms in a Tuesday-night forum on topics from race to public transit, detailed the thought process that led to her decision, based on the reasons she herself ran for mayor. The forum, Woolard said, was 'unsurprising' in what material she was able to mine from the candidates.  She says it comes to issues of growth and city-building, she's been 'confounded' by City Hall decisions she says have left parts of Atlanta behind. Norwood has the edge here, Woolard says, having attended 'all of the city design meetings' and being an early advocate of the Beltline. But on issues of income inequality and social justice, Woolard says Lance Bottoms is the greater candidate, because as the city grows, she says, it's important to think about who gets to be successful in that growth. With Atlanta being a majority-black city, says Woolard, black leadership and representation matter. As Georgia's first openly-gay elected official, Woolard says, she knows having a seat at the table made it possible to get certain things done. The third, deciding factor, says Woolard, was ethics. 'In all of her years at City Hall, she has managed to stay true. Periodically, everybody makes mistakes, but I have not seen a pattern of mismanagement or decisions that I feel like have been unethical.  'I feel like the lack of transparency at this City Hall has crushed the spirit of our city, and I feel like we need a very clean break with this administration and a new start here, with a fresh set of players,' says Woolard. Lance Bottoms, the top vote-getter in November's election, has been endorsed by Mayor Kasim Reed. Reed is a two-term mayor whose last months in office have seen a federal investigation into alleged bribery in the procurement office. The mayor himself has not been implicated. Woolard says there have been 'ethical lapses' and questionable decision-making on Lance Bottoms' part, but said she would be 'polite' so as not to make her announcement a negative conversation. She likes and respects both candidates a great deal, she said. 'It's a painful decision, but it is the decision that I made,' said Woolard. Woolard was asked whether she has concerns about Woolard being progressive enough for Atlanta. 'I worry sometimes about the people around her not being sufficiently progressive, but I don't worry about her,' said Woolard.  Economic development and social justice are not mutually exclusive, said Woolard.  'We have had parts of this city that have been neglected, where investment hasn't happened, where we have let schools fail, where we have been okay with letting poor parts of town be poor parts of town, and I just don't think it has to be that way,' says Woolard. Early voting is underway. The runoff election is Tuesday, December 5.
  • WSB legal analyst Phil Holloway says while that might make for a sympathetic victim in a lawsuit, that same fact also makes for a convincing argument for the defense.
  • In 2018, a new statue of a longtime boxing legend will go up in downtown Atlanta.  Monday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that Evander 'The Real Deal' Holyfield, 55, will be immortalized with a statue near Woodruff Park. The statue will be in a pedestrian plaza area in front of the Flatiron Building.  'I believe that great cities have great art and great artists, and these treasures should be accessible to all our residents,' said Reed. 'And I believe that Evander Holyfield is a treasure.' WSB asked the five-time world heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic medalist whether he ever expected to be immortalized with a statue in the town where he grew up.  'No,' says Holyfield. 'You know, all I wanted to do was be the best.' Holyfield, who retired in 2014, credits his mother and the Boys Club for helping him fight his way out of the ghetto. Both, he says, taught him that there were other options for him than the ones the world said were his choices, growing up in a poor area. The installation of the statue at Peachtree St. and Auburn Ave. will be completed in January. It shows the 6'2' boxer standing calmly, with his gloved hands at his sides.  Was that the pose he would have chosen? Holyfield tells WSB Radio he is just happy to have a statue--but he admits that while this is one of the pictures he picked for consideration, it wouldn't have been his first choice--until he was told that humility was the theme.  'Sometimes you want that shot that you're strong and all this, but the point of the matter is that humility is the key to success,' says Holyfield. 'With humility, you know how strong you are, so you don't have to show it.  'You ain't got to pose and make all your veins pop out and all that, but you can be telling somebody, 'Hey, I was once in your place at one point in time, as well.
  • His book called gay people 'vile.' Now, a federal judge says she may rule within the next month whether the city of Atlanta fired its fire chief over his religious views.  Kelvin Cochran lost his job in January of 2015, after self-publishing the book 'Who Told You That You Were Naked?' It includes passages that referred to homosexuality as 'vile, vulgar and inappropriate' and akin to 'bestiality.' When concern was raised about the book in late November 2014, Cochran was suspended for 30 days. His lawyer, Kevin Theriot, contends the chief was punished for his religious faith, but attorneys for the city argued that it was Cochran's actions during his suspension while an investigation was underway that got him ousted. City lawyer David Gevertz pointed out that Cochran had been directed to not make public comments about his suspension, but instead helped launch a PR campaign with the Georgia Baptist Convention that resulted in thousands of angry e-mails being sent to City Hall. 'We did not fire Chief Cochran because of his religious beliefs,' said Atlanta Chief Counsel Robert Godfrey. 'It was about trust. It was about his campaign to have people contact the mayor and things like that afterwards.' Theriot contends that Mayor Kasim Reed's public statements and social media posts contradict that, including one in which Reed made clear that he did not share the anti-gay views expressed in Cochran's book. The lawsuit points out that there were 'zero instances of discrimination' by Cochran against any employees, and so Theriot says the rest of what the city says is a pretext. 'There are a few isolated passages that they take out of context to try to depict Chief as being hateful, when in fact, Chief Cochran's beliefs require him to treat everybody equally--and the only evidence before the court is that what he always did,' says Theriot. Theriot acknowledged that some copies of Cochran's book were given to men on the job, but he insists they were from people who asked for it and/or shared similar beliefs as the chief. Gevertz pointed out in court that the book created a hostile work environment and could leave the city open to lawsuits from disgruntled employees or unsuccessful candidates once the views of Cochran, a member of the mayor's cabinet, were known publicly. Cochran's lawsuit seeks back pay after his suspension and termination, as well as reinstatement. He has also filed a separate complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Cochran says his childhood dream was to become a fire chief, and he says the discrimination and racial slurs experienced in his early years working in Louisiana combined to make him vow that if he were ever in a position of authority, no one would face discrimination because they were a minority under his leadership. Yet, he says, that is why the city terminated him. 'I was shocked that writing a book encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be would jeopardize my 34-year career,' said Cochran on Friday. 'It's still unthinkable to me that the very faith and patriotism that inspired my professional achievements and drove me to treat all people with love, equity, and justice, are actually what the government used to end my childhood dream-come-true career. 'In the United States of America, true tolerance should be a two-way street for all Americans,' Cochran continued. 'No one deserves to be marginalized or driven out of their profession because of their faith.' U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May grilled lawyers on both sides with questions about the cases they cited in support of their arguments, and says she will write a detailed analysis and likely issue a ruling in about three weeks. The attorneys are seeking summary judgment, meaning they are asking the judge to decide the case. If she cannot rule on every issue raised, says Judge May, the Cochran case will go to trial on the ones she cannot resolve, putting the questions in the hands of a jury. A trial would likely be held next spring. Any jury pool will likely include some people like Tonya Ditty, who tells WSB that she has been a longtime supporter of Cochran since the case began in 2014. She attended Friday's hearing and says she was also at a rally at the state Capitol for him. Ditty says she is concerned about 'the trampling of religious rights,' no matter what religion. 'When our Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they did not pick a religion,' says Ditty. 'This is fitting for everyone. I think that often is said that, 'Oh, the Christians just want protection.' This is for any religion. I don't think it's ever been stated that we are trying just to protect Christians.' Ditty, who says she is a Christian, says people of faith are being stifled. 'I either have to live out my faith in church or in my home, but dare me come out into the marketplace of ideas, and then I'm under attack,' she says.
  • A Gucci fanny pack?  With the holiday shopping season kicking into gear, Customs officers are seeing a surge in counterfeit goods being flown into Atlanta. Thursday, Customs and Border Protection showed reporters and fliers coming through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport a sampling of some of the knock-off merchandise they've seized just within the past week.  A table in the Maynard Jackson International Terminal was covered with more than a dozen brands of phony designer labels on items ranging from shirts to speakers. There were fake Fendi accessories, counterfeit Christian Louboutin red-bottomed sneakers, and items emblazoned with the names Ralph Lauren, Rolex, Gucci, Beats by Dre, and more. There was even a shipment of counterfeit Atlanta Falcons “Salute to Service” Veterans Day jerseys – just days after the holiday passed. LINK TO PHOTO GALLERY OF COUNTERFEIT ITEMS HERE. 'Everybody wants to look good. Everybody wants to be that show-and-teller,' says Supervisor Ronnie Matheson, 'but you know what? At the end of the day, what are you really buying?' Matheson says some 300 boxes of phony items, many of which came from Hong Kong, have been seized this week, which would be worth some $2 million if they were the real deal selling at retail cost. And this, he says, is just the start of a big flow they will see throughout the holiday shopping season. 'Usually you'll see start seeing it about six months out, and then it becomes overwhelming,' says Matheson.  While many of the phony goods may not actually hurt anyone other than the brands whose trademarks and intellectual property the counterfeiters are stealing, Matheson says there is one dangerous trend fooling consumers this year: fake Yeti tumblers.  'With the naked eye, you wouldn't know better,' says Matheson, who explains that Yeti is just one company which sends reps to train CBP on the telltale signs of fakes. 'For me, once I saw the way it was manifested, the way it was packaged, the colors--Yeti only has certain colors. There's not 20,000 colors of Yetis.  'The paint is the big thing,' says Matheson, who explains that the phony cups have paint with lead in it. 'If you look the paint goes all the way to the rim. With your mouth touching the rim, you could be lead-poisoning, contaminating your body.' Adriana Cisneros and her mom Sandra Orozco were among the passengers who stopped to get a closer look at the table of counterfeit goods, and the two spent some time comparing Orozco's authentic Louis Vuitton bag with one of the replicas on the table, ticking through a list of differences, from the material and hardware to the layout of the signature pattern. The supervisor says this year, clothing, belts, shoes, and bags, as well as the fake Yeti cups, seem to be big for counterfeiters. Last year, he says, it was the counterfeit hoverboards, which made headlines for their dangerous fire-starting capabilities. Matheson notes that it's also true that some of the money made from sales of fake items goes to fund terrorism or human trafficking. Yet he says for many people who sell and buy counterfeit items, they're just trying to make a quick buck or get a good deal. 'We can't tell you not to buy it,' he says. 'It's our job to try to stop it.' Robert Lynch and Dan Gladden, supervisory import specialists with Customs and Border Protection, spoke with WSB’s Veronica Waters about moments on the job that have made them feel especially good at the end of the day: LINK AUDIO HERE.
  • Veronica Waters


    Veronica Waters is an anchor and reporter for News/Talk WSB. She is also the staff expert on legal affairs and the courts. In 2007, the Radio-Television News Directors Association named Waters' series on "Snaring Internet Predators" best in the region with an Edward R. Murrow award for Investigative Reporting.She has been honored by several professional organizations for news and sports feature reporting, and was named in 2003 as the Atlanta Press Club's Radio Journalist of the Year. Waters has covered an assortment of high-profile cases from Mayor Bill Campbell's corruption trial to the murder trials of activist-turned imam Jamil Al-Amin and of former DeKalb County, GA Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.She served as the station's correspondent for the murder trial of accused "Black Widow" Lynn Turner, and the death penalty case of double murderer Stacey Humphreys. One of the biggest legal cases in Atlanta history involved the notorious Gold Club racketeering trial. Waters covered this unfolding drama not only for WSB Radio and radio stations throughout America, but also for a worldwide audience on BBC Radio. Waters joined WSB in 1997 as an anchor and reporter. She began her journalism career at the Southern Urban Network and Mississippi Network in Jackson, MS. Waters attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, and enjoys cheering for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

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  • The 58-year-old Uber driver who allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl while taking her home did not have any red flags in his background that would have disqualified him from the ride hailing service.  Abdoulie Jagne, of College Park, had been driving for the company for several months. He was permanently banned from Uber after his arrest Thursday morning, according to a statement released by Uber.  The only blemish on his record was for not having evidence of auto registration in 2015 when he was living in California, according to California court records obtained by the AJC. RELATED: Pregnant woman: “I kept bleeding” after being attacked by Uber driver RELATED:Jailed ex-Uber driver faces additional burglary, peeping Tom charges RELATED: Uber driver carjacked at Cascade Road gas station According to Uber’s policies, that would not have automatically disqualified him from being a driver.  Drivers for the ride hailing app are automatically barred if they have more than three minor traffic violations in the past three years. Minor violations include speeding tickets and non-fatal accidents, among others.  A driver also cannot have had their license suspended or revoked in the last three years, or have received a ticket for DUI, speeding over 100 mph, reckless driving, or have been in a hit-and-run in the past seven years. Any conviction of a felony, driving-related offense, violent crime, sexual offense, or child abuse or endangerment in the past seven years would also disqualify a driver.  The company uses a third party, Checkr, for background checks, according to Uber. The process screens national, state, and local databases including the National Sex Offender website and the PACER database of court records.  “What’s reported here is horrifying beyond words. Our thoughts are with the rider and her family during this time.'  Any behavior involving violence, sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity while using Uber can result in immediate deactivation, according to driver policies.  That includes physical contact, touching or flirting, or inappropriate and abusive language, among other offenses.  Early Monday morning, Gwinnett County officers were dispatched to an apartment complex off Old Norcross Tucker Road in unincorporated Tucker. There, they found the 16-year-old girl who said she was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver.  The girl, who officers said was intoxicated, said she was at a local bar drinking with friends, when one of them scheduled an Uber ride to get her home.  When officers arrived on the scene, the 16-year-old’s pants were around her ankles. The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation.  With information obtained by Uber, investigators determined the rape probably occurred somewhere on South Norcross Tucker Road between Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Old Norcross Tucker Road.  The victim’s friend, also a minor, helped police identify Jagne as a suspect. According to Cpl. Michele Pihera, there is no bond for Jagne and he is being held at the Gwinnett County Jail. He made his first court appearance Saturday and has a hearing scheduled for Dec. 27, Channel 2 Action News reported. Detectives want to know if any other woman has been sexually assaulted by Jagne. They are asked to call 770-513-5338.
  • A man is in jail after he struck and killed a crossing guard near a Cobb County school, police say. Channel 2 Action News received the mugshot of Lamonte Whitaker, who has been charged with vehicular homicide.    Police said he hit Edna Umeh in late November by Lindley Middle School in Mableton. RELATED STORIES: Students witness deadly accident involving school crossing guard Family demands action after school crossing guard killed by 'aggressive' driver Family pushing for change after crossing guard killed by hit-and-run driver  
  • A 7-year-old’s heartbreaking letter to Santa asking for a blanket, ball and food, brought in hundreds of donations to help her and other impoverished children at her school. >> Read more trending news “I have (been) good this day,” Crystal Pacheco wrote. “This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a (blanket).” The letter was part of a classroom exercise by Monte Cristo Elementary School first-grade teacher Ruth Espiricueta, who asked them to list two wants and a need. “I started reading them and it's like, I did not expect her to say, ‘I need food. I want food, but I need a blanket more,'' Espiricueta told KGBT. 'And I asked, ‘Well, why do you need a blanket more than the food?’ ‘Well, I get to eat at school -- sometimes I may not have at home, but I get to eat at school. A blanket I have one, but it's not warm enough.’' Espiricueta posted the letter on social media, sparking hundreds of donations of blankets and other items to the school, according to KRGV.  'Unfortunately, there are other students that, as part of their needs, they included food, towels, blankets, pillows, bed, clothes, shoes and a stove,' Espiricueta told ABC News. 'Some of my students were not even excited about Christmas because they know that their parents cannot afford to buy a Christmas tree or gifts for them.' Crystal wrote the letter thinking about her brother, with whom she would use the ball, food for the family and the blanket because the house is too cold, her mother Maria Cortez told KRGV. “I'm just very emotional and proud of my children, because I raise them to appreciate the little that we have,' Cortez told KGBT. The school hopes to get 724 blankets to give to each student, so far they have 616.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump's campaign has gained access to thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration, according to several people familiar with Trump's transition organization.But the investigators did not directly request the records from Trump's still-existing transition group, Trump for America, and instead obtained them from a separate federal agency that stored the material, according to those familiar with the Trump transition organization.A transition attorney sent letters Saturday to two congressional committees saying the General Services Administration had improperly provided the transition records to Mueller's investigators. Kory Langhofer, general counsel for the transition group, wrote to the Republican chairmen of the House Oversight committee and the Senate Homeland Security committee about what the transition contends was an 'unauthorized' disclosure of its emails.The GSA has provided office space and other aid to presidential transitions in recent years and typically houses electronic transition records in its computer system. But Trump for America considers the records private and privileged and not government property.The people familiar with the transition organization spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the records' sensitivity.They said the materials included communications from more than a dozen senior Trump transition officials. Among the officials who used transition email accounts was former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to a count of making false statements to FBI agents in January and is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation. Flynn was fired by Trump in February for misleading senior administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.It's unclear how revelatory the email accounts maintained by the GSA will be for Mueller. Several high-level Trump advisers sometimes used other email accounts to communicate about transition issues between Election Day and the inauguration.Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, declined to comment. Jay Sekulow, an attorney on Trump's personal legal team, referred questions to the transition group. Neither GSA representatives nor Flynn attorney Robert Kelner were immediately available to respond to AP's emailed requests for comment.Officials with Trump for America learned last Wednesday that GSA officials had turned over the massive cache of emails to Mueller's team. The transition group's top officials were alarmed because many of the emails that Mueller's investigators now have are sensitive records ranging from national security discussions about possible Trump international aims to candid assessments of candidates for top government posts, said those familiar with the transition.Officials with Trump for America had been bracing for months for the prospect that Mueller's team would demand its emails, but they had been assured that any requests to the GSA would be routed to the transition organization, which claims legal ownership of the records. According to those familiar with the transition group, a top GSA official informed Trump for America last June that any request from Mueller's office would be referred to the transition.On Sept. 1, after requests in late August from Mueller's office, the GSA turned over a flash drive containing tens of thousands of records without informing Trump for America of its move, those familiar with the transition said.Those records included emails sent and received by 13 senior Trump transition officials.The media site Axios first reported on the transfer of the emails to Mueller's team.
  • The smallest KFC in the world, serving miniature $5 fill ups, opened Saturday in Portland.  >> Read more trending news Customers lined up for the free sample of the tiny fried chicken, biscuit, mashed potatoes with a small dollop of gravy, a finger-nail sized cookie and what could only be a sip of a soft drink. The novelty fast food restaurant was open until 4 p.m., according to The Oregonian.
  • Google recently released its list of the top search trends of 2017. Across the globe, people asked Google about subjects such as Hurricane Irma, April the Giraffe, the solar eclipse and more. According to Atlanta communications agency Jackson Spalding, which works with a multitude of companies, including Google, many of Atlanta’s top search results mirrored the nation's trends. Here are Atlanta’s top 10 most-Googled topics in 2017: 1. Hurricane Irma 2. Irma path 3. Tom Petty 4. Super Bowl 5. Aaron Hernandez 6. Atlanta Falcons 7. Solar eclipse 8. Las Vegas shooting 9. Charlie Murphy 10. Fidget spinner Google’s Year in Search 2017 lists are based on search terms that “had a high spike in traffic in 2017 as compared to 2016,” the company said. Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.