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    A former Roswell councilman who was accused of having a long-term sexual relationship with a minor was indicted Tuesday in DeKalb County. Kent Igleheart, who resigned from the city council in November, was indicted on 15 counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor. Igleheart, 54, spent 11 days in jail after he was first arrested by DeKalb County Police in October. He was arrested again Tuesday in Gwinnett County on a Grand Jury warrant following his indictment on additional charges. When Igleheart was arrested at Northlake Mall last fall, he had allegedly rented a room at a nearby Days Inn where he intended to take the girl, who was 17 at the time of his arrest. A statement from the District Attorney’s office said Igleheart’s relationship with the girl began in February 2014, when she was 14. He allegedly posed as a teenage boy, met the girl online and obtained sexually explicit images and videos of her. Igleheart revealed his age and identity years later, after meeting the girl in person, and allegedly lured her into a relationship, authorities said. According to a warrant, Igleheart and the girl had chatted on the app Kik for several years, where Igleheart had asked the girl to send him photos of her breasts, genitals and buttocks. The arrest came after the girl confided in her mother about the relationship. Igleheart is currently being held in the DeKalb County Jail. He will likely be arraigned in May, a spokesperson for the DA’s office said. Roswell residents will vote April 18 to fill Igleheart’s City Council seat. Lori Henry faces Marie Willsey in a runoff.
  • Election officials say early voting begins Monday in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.   Secretary of State Brian Kemp says voters should contact their county elections offices for specific information on the early voting process. State law requires that polls be open during normal business hours during the early voting period.   Polls also will be open Saturday, April 8.   More than a dozen candidates are competing in the April 18 contest to fill the seat representing many of Atlanta's northern suburbs and formerly held by Tom Price. Price, a Republican, is now secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.   Georgia requires a so-called 'jungle primary' to fill congressional vacancies. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move to a June 20 runoff.
  • Legislation that increases taxes on consumers who purchase used cars passed the state Senate Friday. House Bill 340, sponsored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, is designed to rectify a 2012 law that allows used-car dealers to benefit from the tax structure. “The concept is you’re going to actually pay tax on what you pay for like every other thing in the state of Georgia,” said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, who carried the bill in the Senate. “You pay so much for vehicles that you do not get to keep that it was greatly discouraging leasing in the state of Georgia.” The bill, Hufstetler said, was also written to level the playing field between counties. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who spoke against the bill said it targets working-class Georgians who are more likely to purchase used cars rather than lease. “When is revenue neutral not revenue neutral? When you get hit,” he said. “The combination of this passing preys on used car buyers and tax decrease on people who lease makes it revenue neutral — except if you’re the one paying the tax increase.” But state Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Ellenwood, said provides a business incentive to lease cars. “By having an opportunity to change the law, we now put leasing on equal footing with regular retail any other way that we sell automobiles in the state,” he said. Jones, who works in the automobile industry, said because he did not feel he would personally benefit nor violate any rules, he felt comfortable voting in favor of the bill. “This bill is about collective taxes. It is not about any money that accrues in any way to my dealership,” he said. In other legislation
  • Two Gwinnett County sheriff’s deputies were arrested this week, accused of stealing county property — but officials aren’t saying what, exactly, that property was. The arrests, meanwhile, mark the seventh and eighth times that a Gwinnett deputy has been charged with a crime since 2012. Cpl. Ronnie Rodriquez and and Deputy Jason Cowburn both turned themselves in Wednesday and have since been released on bond, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shannon Volkodav said. Rodriquez, a 14-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, was charged with felony theft by taking. Cowburn, an 11-year sheriff’s office veteran, was charged with theft by receiving stolen property.  Both men were also charged with violation of oath of public officer.  “The arrests came after it was discovered that on Saturday, March 18th, Rodriquez took unused property from a supply storage area without authorization and delivered some of the items to Cowburn,” Volkodav said in a news release.  Citing the ongoing investigation, authorities did not reveal what kind of property was allegedly stolen. Arrest warrants for Roriquez and Cowburn also did not specify what was taken, though the property was valued between $1,500 and $5,000. March 18 was a Saturday. The theft allegedly took place between 8 and 10:30 a.m. “Sheriff Butch Conway expects every member of his staff to follow the law, both on duty and off,” Volkodav said. “Our deputies are not above the law and are expected to follow it. It is a serious breach of trust any time that we learn that one has not and it is not tolerated.” Channel 2 Action News reported that Roriquez and Cowburn are on administrate leave but have also been served with a “notice of intent to terminate.” MORE: Internet site with child porn sends Gwinnett man to prison MORE: Gwinnett Place Mall evacuated after store fire MORE: More details emerge about Julio Jones’ Mall of Georgia mega project Their arrests continue a recent trend of Gwinnett deputies being accused of breaking the law.  Deputy Michael Lomax resigned in November after being arrested on child molestation and sodomy charges. He’s accused of having sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy. Five other sheriff’s deputies have also been arrested since 2012, including: Terry Henderson, who was accused of sexually assaulting an inmate he was transporting through south Georgia;  Trenell Bullock, who was arrested after co-workers allegedly found methamphetamine inside his home; Dennis Day, who was accused of inappropriately touching three inmates; Liza Ziglar, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a female inmate; and Deputy Duone Clark, who was accused of sexually assaulting a transgender inmate.
  • Former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton filed another lawsuit Tuesday against the DeKalb Board of Ethics, saying it should be dissolved. Sutton’s lawsuit accuses DeKalb Ethics Officer Stacey Kalberman of improperly advocating for legislation to change the appointment process of Board of Ethics members. Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia, made similar allegations against Kalberman in an ethics complaint filed last week. Sutton originally sued the Board of Ethics in November 2015 as she faced ethics charges alleging she misspent public money. A judge hasn’t yet ruled on the first lawsuit, which argues that Board of Ethics members shouldn’t be appointed by private organizations. Kalberman and the board’s attorney, Darren Summerville, declined to comment Tuesday.
  • Henry County District Attorney Darius Pattillo said Tuesday he will seek the death penalty against two men charged with shooting to death four people at a home in a rural part of the county. A first hearing was set for Tuesday morning for Jacob Cole Kosky and Matthew Baker Jr. but was rescheduled for April 11 at 1:30 p.n. to allow time for Baker to find another attorney. Baker’s attorney withdrew Monday because he does not handle death penalty cases. Pattillo told a packed courtroom Tuesday that “the state is going to serve him today .(with plans) to seek the death penalty.” Pattillo told Judge Archer McGarity that he had filed his intention in court Monday. Baker was brought into the courtroom in shackles. Patillo served Baker papers that informed him that the state is seeking the death penalty as Baker’s parents looked on from the back of the courtroom. Baker’s attorney recently withdrew from the case. Kosky, who has an attorney, did not appear in court. The pair were indicted in January on multiple charges. Kosky, 23, was indicted on four counts of malice murder, eight counts of felony murder, four counts of aggravated assault, one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of felony theft by taking. Baker, 19, was indicted on four counts of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, four counts of aggravated assault, and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. On Oct. 26, the two men attended a bonfire and gathering at a home on Moccasin Gap Road in south Henry. The pair left the home at one point during the party. They returned with guns and allegedly began firing Four people were shot. Three people were found dead inside the home in the early hours of Oct. 27. The dead were Matthew Hicks, 18; Keith Gibson, 29 and Sophia Bullard, 20. The fourth victim, 20-year-old Destiny Olinger was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital where she died two days later. Three other people at the party were charged with misdemeanor obstruction: Jacob Williams, 18, of McDonough, Kayla Head, 21, of McDonough and Brooke Knight, 19, of Locust Grove - were charged with misdemeanor obstruction for accused of not cooperating with police.
  • His Republican rivals call him “Darth Vader,” a “lightweight liberal” and a “puppet of the left.” Fellow Democrats vow to block his “coronation” and paint him as an outsider. More than $1 million has already been spent to bog down his candidacy. Democrat Jon Ossoff has transformed the race for suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, and his soaring donations and groundswell of support from energized Democrats have fast painted a shiny target on his back as he scrambles to flip Tom Price’s ruby-red turf. Just about every candidate in the crowded April 18 special election to represent the district, which spans from east Cobb County to north DeKalb County, has assailed the 30-year-old former congressional aide. And Republicans determined to keep a GOP stronghold are readying more attacks. But even Ossoff’s Republican adversaries marvel about his campaign’s field operations and the more than $3 million he’s raised in 10 weeks — and worry about their own fractured field of 11 GOP candidates battling each other for their own slice of the electorate. All 18 candidates in the race are on the same ballot, and if none get a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will square off in a June 20 runoff. Some worry Ossoff could win the race, upending the national debate about President Donald Trump’s popularity in one of the first votes since his election. “If we have 65 percent of the GOP vote and spread it out over 11 candidates — do the math,” Michael Fitzgerald, the district’s GOP chairman, said in sobering remarks to Republicans at a recent forum. “The question is: Are we going to resist these outsiders taking over our district?” Bruce LeVell, running on a pro-Trump platform, took it a giant step further, saying Ossoff embodied the very essence of evil: “His party is from the Dark Side — Darth Vader.” Ossoff has largely stuck to his talking points, hoping to deprive Republicans of red-meat attacks. He’s pivoted toward the House GOP’s beleaguered health care plan, criticizing funding cuts to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that could hit a disease-fighting initiative. And he and his supporters talk increasingly of landing a knockout punch: the long odds of winning the race outright in April. After all, a runoff against a unifying Republican with the full weight of the party behind him or her would neutralize many of Ossoff’s advantages. “The only way to approach any election is to try to win it outright,” Ossoff said. “That’s what my team and I are trying to do every day.” ‘Make Trump Furious’ A virtual unknown in Georgia political circles, Ossoff jumped in the race in January with the endorsements of U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson and more than $250,000 in cash commitments — instantly making him the leading Democratic contender. Since then, he’s become a national Democratic darling with his “Make Trump Furious” mantra and support from the liberal Daily Kos website, which has raised more than $1.2 million for him from more than 70,000 donors. The seat has been in GOP hands since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, launching Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Price to higher orbits. But Democrats hope to capitalize on Trump’s struggles here — he carried the district by 1 point in November — in the most competitive contest since the president’s election. Operatives on both sides of the aisle know that the race could prove a template for how congressional candidates wage campaigns in the era of Trump. And Republicans have sprayed a scattered-shot wave of attacks seeking to cripple his campaign. “We’ve now almost given him a spot in the runoff. A month out, everyone is fighting for that other spot,” said GOP strategist Chip Lake, who is not working for any candidate in the race. “Whether or not Ossoff wins, this should be a wake-up call to the Republicans nationally about how energized the Democratic base is against this president.” The bulk of them paint Ossoff as a naïve newcomer. Bob Gray, a former Johns Creek city councilman and GOP candidate in the race, called him an “embarrassment” with little experience. Another Republican contender, businessman David Abroms, said voters should “fight fire with fire” against Ossoff and turn to another youthful outsider. A House GOP super PAC unleashed a $1.1 million ad campaign featuring footage of him dressed as Han Solo while at Georgetown University — and claims he “lied about his resume” by asserting he worked for five years as a national security staffer with top security clearances. Ossoff and his campaign said he was granted those privileges working for Johnson after his 2006 election, while the super PAC said he’s claiming time spent as a junior staffer as part of that calculation. More recently, Republicans have probed for other weaknesses. Georgia GOP Chairman John Padgett seized on a fundraiser that U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held for Ossoff last week in Washington, declaring him a “puppet of the left.” And former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, the biggest GOP name in the race, used her debut ad to slam his investigative film company’s work for Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based network described by critics as a propaganda outlet. Ossoff has struggled to keep up with the swirling attacks. He rushed out a trio of TV and radio spots — spending more than $1 million in advertising buys — depicting himself as a can-do public servant with support from Lewis and former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes. He and his campaign have declined to comment on some of the criticism. Others they label as “absurd” or describe as cheap shots. “Jon condemns partisan attacks that appeal to fear,” his campaign said of the Al-Jazeera focus, “and stands by his work as a journalist and businessman.” No ‘coronation’ Ossoff has found little safe quarter with fellow Democrats. A recent forum featuring the five Democrats in the race opened with one little-known candidate, Ragin Edwards, asking the crowd of more than 400 voters to raise their hands if they lived in the district. Ossoff’s hand was one of the few not to alight. It was a reminder of another issue that could plague his campaign. He lives south of the district’s border with his girlfriend of 12 years, an Emory University medical student, so they can be within walking distance of her work. Members of Congress don’t have to live in their districts, and Ossoff said he will move to the 6th after she graduates. But that’s left an opening for opponents to peg him as an outsider. Former state Sen. Ron Slotin has tried to exploit that gap by calling himself the “adult” on the Democratic side of the race. He criticized Ossoff for “not having a business in the United States,” a reference to his London-based firm, and said Ossoff is doomed to fail. “This is not going to be a coronation. You have to earn it,” Slotin said. “He stands no chance against a Republican in the runoff. And that’s what I’m letting people know. The party shouldn’t pick favorites.” Ossoff has tried to brush off the criticism while contending his rivals are getting “dragged into partisan politics.” “I grew up in this district. I grew up in this community,” the north DeKalb native said. “Folks want decent representation, not partisan representation. I will offer effectiveness, integrity, humility and responsiveness.” He’s likely to remain a low-risk target for Republicans who remain largely wary of criticizing each other. That was on vivid display at a recent Republican breakfast in Johns Creek, where a string of candidates took the stage — and then took aim at the Democrat. “I am going to challenge Jon Ossoff. I’m not going to be scared,” said Amy Kremer, a tea party activist and cable news pundit. “We have to be bold about what we stand for. Now is the time for fighting.” After the plates had been cleared and the coffee cups trashed, there was much hand-wringing from veteran Republicans worried Ossoff could actually win. Greg Williams, a Republican activist, said he’s been sounding the alarm bells for weeks that the Democrat is legit. “We are not going to be caught sleeping,” he said. “We are not going to have a repeat where they sneak in and steal a seat.”
  • Georgia lawmakers head into the final two weeks of the legislative session with a lot of unfinished business, including a state budget for the coming financial year. The General Assembly plans to adjourn on March 30, with only five days of floor votes scheduled by the House and Senate before wrapping up the session. Here's a look at some of the closely watched proposals: GUNS ON CAMPUS The Senate could vote this week to allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses. The measure would allow anyone age 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with a state-issued permit. Student housing, sports facilities and child care facilities would be exempt. Georgia's Republican Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a similar bill last year, but hasn't given a firm response to lawmakers' latest attempt. Senate approval would send the bill back to the House, which approved a version earlier this month on party lines. The Senate added an exemption for buildings where high school-age students attend classes at technical colleges under a state program. 2018 BUDGET The budget-writing process has remained uncontroversial this year, with few major differences in the $49 billion proposals advanced by the House and Senate. Both chambers have agreed on 2 percent salary increases for teachers and some other state employees and a 20 percent increase for law enforcement officers with state agencies, including the State Patrol. The plan for the financial year starting July 1 also includes more than $1 billion to finance construction projects around the state, including for local schools and colleges, a new crime lab in Savannah and completion of a new campus for Lanier Technical College in Hall County. A state budget is the only piece of legislation that lawmakers are constitutionally required to approve each year. Leaders from each chamber are expected to present their compromise budget proposal Monday morning. STRUGGLING SCHOOLS The Senate's Education Committee plans to vote Monday afternoon on a bill giving the state more power to intervene in struggling schools. The House has already passed a version of the bill creating a 'chief turnaround officer' to work with struggling schools. The new position would be appointed by the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor, with input from the elected state superintendent and education groups. The bill still prescribes dramatic consequences for schools that show no improvement after two years of state intervention or that refuse a 'turnaround' contract with the state. In both cases, state officials could decide to remove staff, turn the school into a charter or allow parents to enroll their children elsewhere. State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, has made several changes to the Senate version, including giving schools an additional year to make progress before those consequences can kick in. OPIOID TREATMENT A series of bills introduced by each chamber aim to address the growing opioid epidemic. Two bills would legalize over-the-counter sale of the overdose reversal drug naloxone. Other bills will expand the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which aims to prevent doctor-hopping and weed out physicians who are over prescribing. Lawmakers want to require all physicians to register and use the database; currently, participation is voluntary. Another bill will increase regulations on narcotic treatment programs that use drugs such as methadone to treat opioid addicts. MEDICAL CANNABIS The House and Senate recently negotiated a compromise to expand access to medical cannabis oil. Under the new proposal, six new diagnoses will be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis oil including autism, AIDS, Tourette's syndrome, and Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, anyone in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, will be allowed access to marijuana oil that's low on THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high. The revised bill has the approval in leadership in both chambers but has yet to be approved by either in its current form. CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT A House proposal limiting colleges' disciplinary hearings on sexual violence still awaits action in the Senate. Advocacy groups that work with crime victims warn that it will discourage reporting of sexual assault and clash with federal requirements for campuses under civil rights law. Supporters, including sponsoring Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, argue that campus proceedings have violated the rights of students accused of assault. Ehrhart wants colleges to notify law enforcement and let them decide whether to investigate or recommend criminal charges. A Senate subcommittee plans to consider the bill for the first time on Tuesday. 'SANCTUARY' CAMPUS The Senate could vote this week on a bill revoking state funding for scholarships and research if any private colleges don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Senate approval would send the bill to the governor. The House approved the bill last month on a party-line vote. A number of colleges across the country have embraced the 'sanctuary campus' label since President Donald Trump's election, but none are in Georgia. Ehrhart, who sponsored the bill in the House, said he wants to keep it that way. BEER AND LIQUOR SALES The Senate will likely send a bill to the governor this week allowing craft breweries and distilleries to sell directly to their customers. Those businesses are currently regulated by prohibition-era laws that prohibit direct sales by requiring the manufacturers to go through a distributer.
  • The Georgia Senate set up negotiations with the House on a final budget deal Wednesday by passing a spending plan that includes pay raises for 200,000 teachers and state employees and more than $1 billion worth of new construction projects. The plan also includes $485,000 so Senate committee meetings can be streamed over the internet. Currently, House meetings are streamed, but the Senate has in the past resisted making its meetings accessible to people who can’t attend live. Both chambers must agree on a spending plan for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1, before the session ends March 30. Both the House and now the Senate have approved versions of the budget that largely follow what Gov. Nathan Deal proposed in January. Negotiators will work on the differences between the two chambers and fit in any last-minute spending additions the Deal admininstration requests. The total spending plan tops $49 billion when federal and other funds are included. It would provide 2 percent pay increases for teachers and most state employees, and a 19 percent raise for child protection workers. The raises cost the state about $360 million. Retired state employees would get a 3 percent one-time bonus, as they did last year. The spending proposal includes more than $1.15 billion in new borrowing. High on the list is $105 million to build a new state courts building on the site of the former archives building in Atlanta, which was brought down earlier this month. Under the budget, doctors would receive an increase in payments for treating Medicaid patients, and millions more would go to increasing autism services for children in the program, which provides health care to the poor and disabled. The Senate added $46 million to increase payments to nursing homes. Both chambers also added funding for dentists who treat low-income Medicaid patients, for school counselors, and to address the backlog in processing DNA rape evidence packages. The budget for the upcoming year includes $223 million to help keep the state’s Teachers Retirement System on strong financial footing. State officials said the payment is one of the largest subsidies — if not the largest — in the program’s history.
  • Gov. Nathan Deal reissued an executive order to have flags flown at half-staff Friday after catching heat for calling the Dallas demonstrations where police were gunned down Thursday night an “anti-police protest.”Deal made the original comment when ordering U.S. and Georgia state flags flown at half-staff at all Department of Public Safety buildings following the shootings.The police shootings occurred at a demonstration in Dallas against the recent shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by police officers.Two hours after the original order, Deal’s office sent out a statement saying, “I’ve reissued the executive order regarding lowering flags to half-staff in memory of the fallen officers in Texas to mirror the presidential proclamation.“In addition, I’d like to clarify the previous executive order I issued. The anti-police incident to which I referred was the shooting of law enforcement officers, as that was the stated intent of the shooters, and not of those peacefully demonstrating.”“Again, my thoughts and prayers are with all those who’ve suffered loss of a loved one this week.”Deal signed the original executive order early Friday to fly the U.S. and Georgia state flags at half-staff.“Today we mourn the lives of five law enforcement officers who were gunned down in a coordinated sniper attack during an anti-police protest,” Deal wrote in his original executive order.He immediately came under heat on Twitter. Some of the responses:

News

  • Pickens County deputies are searching for an armed fugitive.  Authorities are looking for Nicholas Bishop in the area of Priest Circle in Talking Rock.  Bishop is believed to be armed with a handgun and on foot after he abandoned a stolen vehicle around 2 p.m.  If you see him, call 911 immediately. Officials say do not attempt to approach him. - Please return for updates.
  • One more time, Doris Payne, the 86-year-old infamous international jewel thief, has pleaded guilty to the usual crime. She admitted Wednesday to stealing a necklace from Von Maur at Perimeter Mall last year, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said. Payne, who recently said she’s been dealing with a possibly cancerous tumor, was sentenced to 120 days of house arrest and three years of probation.  She was also banned from all Von Maur locations and every mall in DeKalb County. Payne, who’d been free on bond, was arrested last month for missing a court date. Shortly after the would-be appearance, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she wasn’t medically able to attend. “I ain’t runnin’,” she said in a phone interview. “I’ve never in my life been late for court. Last month, Payne was deemed too ill to stand trial by the judge presiding over a Fulton County case stemming from a missing set of earrings at Phipps Plaza. Payne has been open about her habits of theft, which she detailed in a documentary called, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.” RELATED: Huge DeKalb center with (at least) 8 popular chains is opening soon RELATED: Cop helps elderly woman who got kicked out of dentist office in DeKalb RELATED: A DeKalb family’s tale of two dead bodies and a crying baby girl Like DeKalb County News Now on Facebook | Follow on Twitter and Instagram
  • A drunken driver destroyed a row of headstones at a historic Carrollton cemetery, causing tens of thousands of dollars' worth of damage, police said. According to police, the driver was coming down Martin Luther King Street on March 19, ran a stop sign, jumped a curb and crashed into the city-owned cemetery. The broken headstones range in date from the late 1800s to 1950. 'And what we discussed is, if one is damaged beyond repair, we'll put something back that's respectful. It's hard to replace it with the exact same item. The families aren't around anymore, so the city will take on the responsibility,' city manager Tim Grizzard said. TRENDING STORIES: Thousands of Georgians could lose food stamps next week 16-year-old in custody after hoax call about school gunman Food prices at SunTrust Park vs. Mercedes-Benz Stadium: What's the difference? The 35-year-old driver, Ray Antonio Baker, was arrested and charged with DUI. City officials said they will ask his insurance carrier to pay for the damage. 'Our plan is to go after the individual's insurance to pay for repairs. If that doesn't pay for everything, the city will certainly pick up the tab,' Grizzard said. Officials said this isn't the first time a driver has damaged headstones, but it's not a big enough problem to put up a wall. 'It's not something that has happened often enough that we need to put up a barrier. If it was a recurrent spot, we would do something,' Grizzard said. City officials said it could take weeks to repair the damage.
  • President Donald Trump faces one last hurdle to ending nearly seven years of lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University when a judge decides Thursday whether to approve a $25 million settlement with former customers. When attorneys reached a deal 10 days after Trump's election, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel said he hoped it would be part of 'a healing process that this country very sorely needs.' A month later, he granted preliminary approval of the deal. Last week, attorneys for former customers said their clients will get at least 80 percent of their money back, based on the roughly 3,730 claims submitted. Trump has paid $25 million into escrow to settle two federal class-action lawsuits before Curiel and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He admitted no wrongdoing. The lawsuits allege that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver on its promises. Two customers have objected to the settlement. Sherri Simpson, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, attorney, says she wasn't given enough opportunity to opt out of the lawsuit and should have the right to sue the president. Simpson and a partner paid $35,000 in 2010 to enroll in Trump University's 'Gold Elite' program to be paired with a mentor who would teach them Trump's secret real estate investment strategies. Simpson, who appeared in two anti-Trump campaign ads, said they got little for their money — the videos were 5 years old, the materials covered information that could be found free on the internet and her mentor didn't return calls or emails. 'I would like an admission that he was wrong, an admission that, 'Oops, maybe I didn't handle it as well as I should have, I didn't set it up as well as I should have, that I didn't maintain it or oversee it as well as I should have,'' Simpson told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Attorneys for Trump and those suing him say the deadline to opt out was in November 2015 and Simpson missed her chance. Thirteen people opted out before that date, none of whom have shown any desire to sue the president. Another customer, Harold Doe, objected to the settlement because he wants more money, according to court filings by attorneys for Trump and the plaintiffs. Trump University dogged the Republican businessman throughout the campaign as rivals used Trump's depositions and extensive documents filed in the lawsuits to portray him as dishonest and deceitful. Trump brought more attention by repeatedly assailing Curiel, insinuating that the Indiana-born judge's Mexican heritage exposed a bias. The settlement was reached 10 days before a trial was set to begin, sparing Trump what would have been a major distraction. The trial would have been pinned on whether a jury believed Trump misled customers by calling the business a university when it wasn't an accredited school and by falsely advertising that he hand-picked instructors. Trump vowed never to settle but said after the election that he didn't have time for a trial, even though he believed he would have prevailed. ___ Associated Press writer Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.