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Latest from Bill Caiaccio

    Marriott has announced its guest reservation database was breached, potentially exposing information on about 500-million guests staying at Starwood hotels worldwide.  WSB consumer expert Clark Howard says 'No matter how you slice it, this one's huge.' LISTEN to WSB’s full interview with Clark Howard below: The company says credit card numbers and expiration dates of some guests may have been taken. The stolen information also includes some names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and passport numbers. The breach has been taking place since 2014. Howard says 'A lot of the 500-million are repeat corporate travelers who stayed at the same or various hotels.' He says 'Identity theft is an ever present risk with the level of information the criminals have.' Marriott bought Starwood, which Howard says 'is one of the biggest players in hotels worldwide.' Starwood operates hotels under the names: W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Element Hotels, Aloft Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, Four Points by Sheraton and Design Hotels. As he has done with other major breaches, Howard recommends freezing your credit to avoid having your identity stolen. He says that way 'Even if a criminal tries to use this information to take over your identity, you can shut them down cold.' You can visit Clark.com for more info. Marriott is working with law enforcement, and has set up a website and call center for anyone who thinks they are at risk. Also, the company will be sending emails to those affected. MORE INFORMATION HERE.
  • If early voting is any indication, this year's election could break records in Georgia.Voters in some metro Atlanta counties are waiting in line up to three hours to vote early.WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane calls the race for governor 'A very passionate election.' Crane told Atlanta's Morning News 'People are feeling very connected to the issues and these candidates.
  • Days after Hurricane Michael hit, thousands of homes and businesses in south and southwest Georgia still don't have power.The electric membership cooperatives (EMC's) say they have restored service to over 150,000 members since the storm hit Georgia as a category 3 storm, but the restoration process will involve many more days or up to a week or more in some rural areas of the state.
  • Someone with direct knowledge of the Trump White House believes she may know the source of the anonymous New York Times op-ed, claiming to be part of an internal resistance to stop the President from doing things that could harm the country.  In an exclusive interview with WSB Radio’s Condace Pressley, Omarosa Manigault Newman says, “I suspect it's someone on [Vice President] Pence's staff.”  She adds, “He [Pence] has three senior staffers, assistants to the president, deputy assistants to the president, who would fit the description of this person.”  Refuting the accusations, the deputy chief of staff for Vice President Pence tweeted: “The Vice President puts his name on his op-eds. Our office is above such amateur acts.”  In her own-tell all book about the Trump White House, 'Unhinged,' Omarosa says she saw a 'mental decline' in President Trump during her 7-month tenure.  The book has spent the past two weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. 'I wanted to give the American people a chance to know the truth, because the truth so matters,” she tells WSB Radio.  Omarosa says when she read the op-ed, 'I really thought about the implications for, not just the White House, or for the president, but for the American people.'  An effort is underway at the White House to find out who wrote the piece for the New York Times.  U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also denied writing it. Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Pompeo said, 'It's not mine,' and accused the media of trying to undermine the Trump administration.  When asked about the anonymous editorial, President Trump called it 'gutless.
  • Independent voters in Georgia who want to take part in the state's biggest races will have to pick a party for the May 22 primary.
  • Gas prices are on the rise across metro Atlanta, and could shoot up even more this week due to the conflict in Syria. Even though Syria is not an oil-producing country, AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend tells WSB, “Anytime there are issues in that Middle East region you're going to start seeing some type of effect at the pump.' He adds, 'Motorists should expect a 15-cent increase at the pump in the short term.'  Gas prices in Georgia already average about $2.63 per gallon and $2.67 in metro Atlanta. Townsend says, 'That's the highest since July of 2015.'  Prices at the pump have increased 6-cents in the past week, and are 35-cents more expensive than last year at this time.  Georgia now has the most expensive gas since last September, when prices were recovering from Hurricane Irma.  The highest prices in the state are in metro Atlanta, Brunswick and Savannah. The lowest prices are in Augusta and in Walker and Dade County, in northwest Georgia, where prices average $2.54. The predicted increase this week could be even more depending on how the crude oil market responds to the crisis in Syria. Crude prices jumped more than $5 last week, which was the largest weekly increase in over eight months.
  • Two people are heading to prison after stealing firearms from firefighters across metro Atlanta. WSB Radio reported on hundreds of break-ins that occurred from January to June of 2017. Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds has announced two Lawrenceville residents have been sent to state prison after admitting to the vehicle break-ins and thefts. Ayana Dayshina Forest, 22, and Elisha Howard Ross, 26, each entered guilty pleas to two counts of racketeering and 46 counts of entering auto for the crimes that occurred from January to June of 2017.  Cobb Police Det. R. McElwain and Smyrna Police Det. J. Lanzing worked with law enforcement agencies across 17 counties to connect the dots between the entering autos and track down the perpetrators.  The thieves worked at night, mostly targeting personal vehicles belonging to firefighters that were parked at fire stations. The evidence showed that Forest was the driver and would drop Ross off near a fire station, circling back to pick him up a few minutes later.  Ross usually used a tool to quickly break the window of a vehicle in order to search through glove compartments and other areas inside the vehicles. The two communicated by cell phone during the crimes.  The thieves hit 52 fire stations, one ambulance service, and the Smyrna headquarters of Glock Inc., as well as automobiles parked at 11 residences near a fire station in Acworth. The thieves broke into more than 200 vehicles throughout the metro Atlanta area over the course of six months. A total of 59 firearms were stolen out of the vehicles, and most of those were then sold on the street. Two of the stolen firearms were found in the suspects’ possession, and another firearm was recovered at the scene of a shooting in DeKalb County. The thieves also took cash, headphones, laptops, and other valuables from the vehicles. Reynolds says 'I’m very proud of the work done in this case by Detectives from Cobb PD and Smyrna PD. When these firefighters are out working to keep our community safe, the last thing they need to worry about is a thief breaking into their vehicles.' Ross entered a negotiated plea to all charges on January 23, and Cobb Superior Court Judge Kimberly Childs sentenced him on that day to 20 years, with 10 years to serve in prison and the balance on probation, and ordered him to pay $8,920 in restitution.  Forest entered her negotiated plea this week to all of the charges. J udge Childs sentenced her to 15 years, with seven years to serve in custody and the rest on probation. She was also ordered to pay $8,920 in restitution. The following fire stations were hit: Alpharetta Fire Stations 81 and 86 Bartow County Fire Station 13 Cartersville Fire Station 2 Clayton County Fire Stations 14, 8, 9 Cobb County Fire Stations 30, 6, 23, 28,  Coweta County Fire Stations 16, 12, 5, 8 Dawson County Fire Station 1 Douglas County Fire Station 7 Forsyth County Fire Stations 10, 3, 4, 7, 1 Gwinnett County Fire Stations 9, 21, 5, 31, 23, 15, 3 Griffin Fire Stations 2, 1 Henry County Fire Stations 12, 3, 9, 11, 6 Newnan Fire Stations 2, 1 Paulding County Fire Stations 9, 10 Peachtree City Fire Station 82 Rockdale County Fire Stations 6, 7 Roswell Fire Stations 6, 2 Smyrna Fire Stations 1, 5, 3, 4,  Social Circle Fire Department Spalding County Fire Station 1 Walton County Fire Station 2
  • The public should be careful of what they touch. As the opioid drug epidemic grows, Marietta police are warning of a possible hidden danger that could be lurking in public places such as restrooms, hotel rooms, even rental cars. Officer Chuck McPhilamy tells WSB, 'What happens to the average hotel worker that's at any hotel in the city cleaning a room that happened across some residue?'   Anyone who comes in contact with drug residue could be at risk.  McPhilamy says drugs laced with Fentanyl can be absorbed simply by touching it. He says 'That changes the game,' and 'changes our concern level.'  McPhilamy says, 'It can be inhaled through your nose or your mouth, it can be absorbed through your skin or your eyes.' A concern is the average person may have no idea what the drugs look like.  McPhilamy says, 'Fentanyl itself can come in so many different forms it's not like I can tell you just look for one substance.' There have been no reports of this happening in Georgia.  McPhilamy says he doesn't want to cause a panic, but he wants people to be aware. Even if a person is not a drug addict, they may come across people who use or sell these potentially dangerous drugs.  He says, 'I think we're talking about two different cultures intersecting.' If anyone sees something that looks suspicious, police say call 9-1-1, and if one should start feeling ill, get medical attention immediately.    
  • After going 0-for-four in special U.S. House elections, Democrats are left licking their wounds.   The latest in a string of stinging defeats was Republican Karen Handel's win over Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th district runoff.   WSB Political analyst Bill Crane says, 'The Republicans taking all four of the seats that were created by appointments to the Trump administration gives them some gloating points.'   Despite spending about $30 million on the 6th district election, Democrats still couldn't take the seat away from Republicans. Crane says, 'For all of those resources, it did not substantially move the needle.'   Ossoff got 48% of the vote in April's special election, and had about the same number in the runoff.   Several factors may have cost Ossoff the race, including the fact he does not live in the 6th district. Crane says, 'In a close election any number of things can be the paper cut that wounds.'   The loss in the 6th district race could be a bad sign for Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, but Crane says Republicans still must deliver on their promises.   As for the chances we'll see a Handel-Ossoff rematch next year, Crane says don't bet on it. He says Handel will be tough to beat 'unless the Republican Congress can't deliver on any of its agenda.
  • Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. Most metro Atlanta schools are letting out this week, and families are making plans for the long weekend.   Georgia is bracing for a busy Memorial Day weekend on the roads and in the water. AAA is predicting more than 34-million Americans will be traveling.   The Georgia State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources and Governor's Office of Highway Safety will be out in force over the holiday weekend, and they will be ready to write tickets or arrest anyone breaking safety laws. They will especially be looking for people who are too impaired to operate a vehicle or a boat.   Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough says, 'The Memorial Day weekend is always a heavily traveled holiday weekend, and historically one of the deadliest on our roadways.'  In 2016, the Georgia Department of Transportation says 12 people died in accidents Memorial Day weekend.  More than half of those people killed in traffic crashes in Georgia last year were not wearing a seat belt.   Many boats will also be on the water for the first time this year this weekend.   The Georgia Department of Natural Resources made 182 boating under the influence arrests in Georgia a year ago, and alcohol was cited as a factor in boating incidents that killed 19 people. Overall, the number of drowning's rose from 39 in 2015 to 44 in 2016.   Col. Eddie Henderson, director of DNR's Law Enforcement Division says, 'All summer, Game Wardens across the state will be enforcing boating laws on Georgia's waterways, just as troopers will be enforcing driving laws on the highways.'   The Summer '17 Safety Tour begins with a stop at Lake Lanier Islands. It will also make stops on Lake Hartwell, Lake Blackshear and West Point Lake.
  • Bill  Caiaccio

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    Bill Caiaccio has been working for WSB since 2014. 

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  • After DeKalb County School District officials promised efforts to improve their hiring process, the district hired a teacher this summer who had been arrested in 2013 in New York for meth possession. Carl Hudson was arrested in 2013 for possession of methamphetamine, a felony, a few blocks from Flushing High School, where he was principal. According to the New York Daily News, he pleaded to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and received a conditional discharge, meaning the whole incident would get wiped from his record if he did not have any other legal run-ins over the following year. Hudson’s case is like the series of hiring blunders that led DeKalb officials to admit to gaps in the district’s hiring processes while promising to correct those flaws. According to his resume, he moved to Atlanta in 2016 and found employment with Atlanta Public Schools, beginning as a long-term substitute before becoming a permanent hire, until he left the district this summer to teach math at Tucker High School. Atlanta Public schools officials said he worked for the district just over a year, ending in November of 2017. His arrest, though, was easily found through a Google search and according to Georgia teaching standards should have kept him from being employed by either school district. Superintendent Steve Green said Tuesday that being previously charged with a crime would not make someone ineligible for a job. District officials said they were not aware of Hudson’s arrest prior to hiring him. TRENDING STORIES: Police ID woman run over, killed at gas station; search for driver underway Michelle Obama extends national book tour, adds stop in Atlanta Officer shot in bulletproof vest during traffic stop, suspect killed Atlanta Public Schools officials did not say whether they were aware of his 2013 meth arrest, but said late Tuesday that results of standard background checks met their guidelines. According to the Code of Ethics for Educators, from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, unethical conduct includes the commission or conviction of a felony, including a situation where the charge is disposed through diversion or similar programs. On his application, Hudson marked “no” when asked whether he had been convicted of any crimes in the last five years. On his resume, instead of listing the name of the high school where he worked, he wrote “NYC DOE High School,” or New York City Department of Education. Efforts to reach Hudson were not successful. District officials said he “walked off the job” Nov. 26. Bernice Gregory, the district’s human resources chief, said changes to the hiring procedure since she arrived at the district in April include having a second person — either Gregory or the director of employment services — perform a second candidate screening to ensure checks and balances on the district’s hiring checklist have been met. That could include a Google search and verifying a person’s job history for the past 10 years, talking to at least one reference who directly supervised the candidate. “We put another set of eyes on it,” Gregory said about the applications. “Once we put their names in Google, you know everything … is going to come up that’s out there.” The district recently joined the National Association of Teacher Education and Certification, which has a database giving the district access to convictions, arrests and charges against a potential candidate. Her staff is set to begin training this week to use that system. She said they also recently signed up for access to the Child Protective Services Information System, which essentially is a child abuse registry for the state of Georgia and would tell district officials whether someone had had as little as a child abuse complaint against them. A question added to applications will ask applicants if they have been asked to resign from a school district. During peak hiring times, Gregory said someone from her department will ask the question again. The district has gotten into trouble for sloppy hiring in the past, including a teacher hired last summer who had been fired from the Toledo, Ohio, school district on allegations that she assaulted students by putting them in headlocks and pushing them against walls. DeKalb County Schools placed Sandra Meeks-Speller on administrative leave on Oct. 10, 2017 pending an internal investigation, shortly after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested her personnel file and told district officials what was uncovered online about her past. Diane Clark was removed twice from the district in 13 months. The first time, in November 2016, she was allowed to retire early after several of her Cross Keys High School students claimed she made threatening comments about getting them deported immediately after President Donald Trump was elected. The second time was December 2017, after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered Clark had been brought back to the district as a substitute teacher.  District officials admitted failing to do internet searches was among critical gaps in their background-check process, and promised changes such as verifying the work history candidates provide on their job applications and making direct contact with references.“Our background-check process certainly needs shoring up,” Superintendent Steve Green said last year. “We need to keep up with the times for ways there are to get information. In the old days, if you were cleared to teach in Ohio, you would be cleared to teach here.” District officials said in an email at the time that they would provide training sessions on interview tips, contact state boards where candidates are licensed and provide annual safety awareness training for some human capital management employees.
  • A Kentucky man is facing murder charges after allegedly slashing the throat of his sleeping 3-year-old niece early Saturday morning, news outlets reported. >> Read more trending news  The toddler’s father heard her screams over a baby monitor around 2:45 a.m. and was attacked by Emanuel Fluter, 33, when he tried to save his daughter, The Associated Press reported. Josephine Bulubenchi later died from her injuries at an Albany-area hospital. Fluter, a veteran, who had been living with the family in their rural Clinton County home, had been suffering from mental health issues, the child’s father and Fluter’s brother, Dariu Fluter, told WKYT-TV. “I want people to know that he loved his nieces and loved his nephews,' Dariu Flutur said. 'He loved us. He loved me and his sister.” The family told WKYT they forgive him for the alleged murder. 'He has a mental condition that he suffers with since he was in the army,' Dariu said. 'It's tough for us to understand because of what happened.' >> Trending: Texas firefighters rescue over 100 snakes from burning house, including pythons, boas There were four other children in the room at the time of the attack, but none of them were injured, police said. Fluter is jailed on $1 million bond and is due back in court on Dec. 18.
  • A metro Atlanta woman is accused of stabbing another woman to death at a Rockdale County motel and firing at officers during a chase. It happened at a Motel 6 in Conyers. Right after the murder, a statewide alert helped authorities in another part of the state catch the murder suspect, 42-year-old Joyce Marie Lewis-Pelzer. The alert also sparked new attention being put on the disappearance of another woman seven years ago. Last November, Channel 2 Action News followed up on the disappearance of Shawndell McLeod out of DeKalb County that is being investigated as a homicide. [READ MORE: 6 years later, this missing woman's case is now a murder investigation] While looking into Lewis-Pelzer, Channel 2's Matt Johnson found DeKalb court records that show McLeod took out a protective order against Lewis-Pelzer two months before the disappearance. Lewis-Pelzer is recovering at a south Georgia hospital after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said she led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended in Turner County. TRENDING STORIES: Police ID woman run over, killed at gas station; search for driver underway Michelle Obama extends national book tour, adds stop in Atlanta Officer shot in bulletproof vest during traffic stop, suspect killed 'Probably eight or nine minutes from mile marker 94 to mile marker 84 -- 10-miles stretch and it reached speeds of 110 miles per hour,' Sheriff Billy Hancock said. Deputies in Crisp County returned fire when she shot at them on I-75 Monday night. Authorities said she tried to head to Florida after stabbing her partner. A statewide alert helped a state trooper locate her car and attempt to make a traffic stop before authorities said Lewis-Pelzer kept going. It took two PIT maneuvers to stop her and the GBI said she fired at least one shot from her car toward deputies. As for the McLeod case, a Conyers police spokesperson said they're working with another department to look at the suspect further to determine her connection to an additional murder. The family of the victim at the motel is out of state and have not been notified of her death as of late Monday night. The accused killer has multiple domestic violence arrests in both DeKalb and Fulton counties.
  • Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judged to spare him prison time in a memo filed Tuesday. >> Read more trending news  In the filing, Flynn’s lawyers recommended for a sentence 'a term of probation not to exceed one year, with minimal conditions of supervision, along with 200 hours of community service, CNN reported. His attorneys said in the memo that “General Flynn accepted responsibility for his conduct and that his cooperation “was not grudging or delayed.” >> Related: Guilty: Michael Flynn admits in court to lying about Russian communication “Rather, it preceded his guilty plea or any threatened indictment and began very shortly after he was first contacted for assistance by the Special Counsel's Office.” Flynn is scheduled for sentencing next Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, recommended no jail time for Flynn in a filing last week. Original story: Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn are expected to make a sentencing recommendation Tuesday in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Prosecutors with Mueller’s team said last week in court filings that Flynn has been cooperative since he pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI. In light of his assistance, prosecutors asked that Flynn receive little to no jail time for his crime, an argument Flynn’s attorneys are expected to echo, according to The Associated Press. >> Mueller investigation: Report recommends little to no jail time for Michael Flynn Flynn resigned from his post in the Trump administration in February 2017 after serving just 24 days in office. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team.  Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced next week by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, according to court records.
  • A day of shopping at a New Jersey mall took a violent turn for three teenagers, who said they were beaten up by two women over a parking space. >> Read more trending news  The three friends - Taylor McFadden, 18; Tatum Bohanon, 19, and Alexandria 'Allie' DeRusso, 19 – told NJ.com that a car was waiting for their parking spot close to the Deptford Mall entrance, but that they weren’t ready to leave.  The girls think that’s what angered the women, who, at first, walked by their car with two men, and then returned and attacked them, McFadden said. She told NJ.com that one of the women hit Bohannon and the other woman punched DeRusso. “Both of my friends were on the ground at this point, getting punched,” McFadden told NJ.com. “I jumped out of the passenger side and I grabbed my phone so that I could call the police. People started coming over, but I think a lot of people were scared to get involved,” she said. When it was over, all three girls were treated at a local hospital. >> Trending: Father turns in daughter to face charges over starving dogs Authorities are investigating the incident.
  • California state lawmaker Joaquin Arambula was arrested Monday on suspicion of misdemeanor child cruelty, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said. The arrest came after officials at Dailey Elementary Charter School discovered an injury on a child who came into an office Monday afternoon, Dyer said. He did not describe the injury or Arambula's relationship to the child. He was cited for willful cruelty to a child, Arambula, a Democratic state assemblyman, is married with three young daughters. 'Joaquin is a committed father who wants what is best for his children,' his spokeswoman Felicia Matlosz said in a Tuesday statement. 'He is fully supportive of the process, which will show he is a loving and nurturing father.' Arambula is a former emergency room physician who won a 2016 special election to represent part of Fresno and the surrounding rural areas. His father Juan Arambula was a state assemblyman in the early 2000s. Officials at the elementary school reported the child's injury to child protective services, which called Fresno police, Dyer said. Officers called Arambula and his wife, Elizabeth, who both arrived at the scene. The child described how the injury occurred and said Arambula inflicted it, Dyer said. The police determined the injury happened Sunday evening. Arambula was cooperative and cordial, but he did not provide a statement to officers based on advice from his attorney, Dyer said. Officers were 'confident that a crime had occurred' and arrested Arambula on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child, Dyer said. He was taken in a patrol car to police headquarter, finger-printed, photographed and then released because his crime is a misdemeanor. The injury did not rise to the level of a felony. All school district employees in California are considered 'mandated reporters' under state law, meaning they are required to report known or suspected child abuse. They are not responsible for determining if an allegation is valid, according to the state Department of Education's website. They are expected to report if abuse or neglect is suspected or a child shares information leading them to believe it took place. They are then required to call law enforcement or child protective services, and law enforcement is required to investigate. A physical injury inflicted on a child by someone else intentionally is considered child abuse or neglect. Officials at the elementary school and Fresno Unified School District did not immediately respond to requests for comment. __ Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Don Thompson contributed.