Power plant plan further clouds coal’s future
STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) — A former southeast Georgia banker accused of embezzling and losing $21 million of investors’ money, then vanishing for 18 months before he was arrested in a traffic stop, has agreed to settle his case with a plea deal, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.
Aubrey Lee Price, 47, of Valdosta left suicide letters when he went missing in June 2012 and was later declared dead by a Florida judge. His time as a fugitive ended on New Year’s Eve when a sheriff’s deputy in coastal Georgia pulled over a pickup truck and found Price behind the wheel, alive and well.
Price has been jailed in Statesboro since then and was scheduled to stand trial June 23 in U.S. District Court on bank fraud charges. But during a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, prosecutors told a judge that Price has agreed to a plea deal. They expect it to be finalized in court Thursday.
“We have a plea agreement in place,” said Brian Rafferty, an assistant U.S. attorney who’s the lead prosecutor on the case.
Price’s defense attorney, Joshua Lowther, declined to comment. Price previously pleaded not guilty.
ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia family and lawmakers are demanding that federal authorities investigate the case of a toddler severely injured by a flash grenade during a drug raid.
Bounkham Phonesavanh — a 19-month-old nicknamed “Bou Bou” — remained in a medically induced coma on Tuesday. Habersham County District Attorney Brian Rickman said his office is investigating to determine whether any officers will face criminal charges.
Police have said officers were searching for a potentially armed drug suspect at the home and did not know children were inside when they rammed the door and dropped a flash grenade inside the door. The grenade landed in the sleeping boy’s playpen, according to both authorities and the boy’s family. The grenades create a bright flash and loud noise and are commonly used by law enforcement to distract or stun suspects.
Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, who has sponsored legislation in the past to limit “no-knock” warrants that allow authorities to burst into a home without warning, said he plans to ask the U.S. Attorney to review the case.
“At this point when you look at these pictures, when you hear what was done, the public’s confidence in the district attorney to conduct an objective investigation — the public’s confidence in that is nil, it’s gone, it’s not there,” Fort said.
The district attorney collected no evidence at the home,
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (AP) — President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to reduce the gases blamed for global warming from the nation’s power plants gives many coal-dependent states more lenient restrictions and won’t necessarily be the primary reason coal-fired power plants will be retired.
If Kentucky, for example, meets the new limits that the Obama administration proposed Monday, it would be allowed to release more heat-trapping carbon dioxide per unit of power in 2030 than plants in 34 states do now.
That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency would only require Kentucky, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity needs, to improve its carbon dioxide emissions rate by 18 percent over the next 15 years. so the family has hired an investigator to do so, said their attorney, Mawuli Mel Davis.
Rickman said his office is still gathering statements, photographs and other evidence from agencies involved with the raid and would like to speak with the Phonesavanh family. The raid had not been cleared by either the district attorney or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, despite Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell’s earlier statements to the contrary, Rickman said. A call to Terrell’s office on Monday was not returned.
“Anytime you look at pictures of a child injured like that, it’s awful,” Rickman said. “Everybody’s heart goes out to the family. We’ve just got to do our job here.”
The boy’s father and mother, Bounkham and Alecia Phonesavanh, left their son briefly on Monday to thank supporters during a prayer rally outside the Atlanta hospital where he is being treated. The parents wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders and held hands with their three daughters, all wearing pink. Church leaders and other supporters stood around them, holding pictures of the toddler before and after the raid that injured him.
“Thank you for your prayers, everybody,” Bounkham Phonesavanh said quietly. “Thank you.”
The boy was scheduled to have surgery on Monday until he developed a fever that delayed the procedure, Alecia Phonesavanh said.