Power plant plan fur­ther clouds coal’s fu­ture

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

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.

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