Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) - Marine Corp officers in North Carolina are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States.
A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said Thursday that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being investigated for alleged desertion, destruction of government property and larceny. He faced those charges a decade ago after disappearing from his unit in Iraq with a 9 mm service pistol and a Humvee.
A photo of a blindfolded Hassoun turned up on Al-Jazeera television a week after his 2004 disappearance. Hassoun soon contacted American officials in Beirut, Lebanon, saying he'd been kidnapped.
He returned to Camp Lejeune, but disappeared again later months later while visiting his family in Utah.
CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE BUILDING-GUN
Questions surround DC gun arrest of poultry exec
WASHINGTON (AP) - There are questions this morning about the arrest of a South Carolina pork-and-poultry executive who allegedly tried to enter a congressional office building in Washington with a handgun in his bag.
U.S. Capitol Police say 59-year-old Ronald William Prestage (PRESS'-tij) of Camden, South Carolina, was arrested as he tried to enter the Cannon Building Wednesday morning. Prestage was charged with carrying a pistol without a license.
The Washington Post reports it was loaded, 9 mm Ruger.
Prestage is an executive of Prestage Farms, based in Clinton, North Carolina, and a member of the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees.
He also is president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, a lobbying group.
Telephone messages left Thursday with U.S. Capitol Police and Prestage Farms were not immediately returned.
HEALTH INSURANCE REBATES CAROLINAS
Millions in insurance rebates coming to Carolinas
(AP) - Millions of dollars in health insurance rebates will be coming to consumers in South Carolina and North Carolina from companies the government says spent too much of premium dollars on profits and red tape last year.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released data Thursday showing that more than 205,000 consumers in South Carolina will receive more than $13 million in rebates. That's an average refund of $92 per family.
In North Carolina, checks totaling more than $8 million in refunds will be going out in the coming weeks. More than 182,000 consumers will be benefiting and the refund amounts to about $77 per family.
Nationally, nearly 7 million consumers nationwide will receive about $330 million in refunds. The refund nationally will average about $80 per family.
HOUSING AUTHORITY SUSPENSION
Robeson County housing director suspended
LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) - The director of the Robeson County Housing Authority has been suspended pending an investigation into the agency's purchasing policies.
An investigation was started after the federal Department of Housing Urban Development reviewed the local policies.
A complaint alleges that Ronald Oxendine used authority money to pay for work at his home. It also alleges that two contractors worked on his home while also contracting with the authority and received no-competition contracts.
Oxendine was suspended without pay this week by the county board of commissioners.
Officials say he has been on vacation since earlier this month. A telephone listing for his home could not be found.
The chairman of the housing authority board, Noah Woods, would not talk about the case.
NORTH CAROLINA-ATHLETE DEGREES
UNC inviting ex-athletes back to complete degrees
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina is inviting former athletes who left before completing coursework to return and earn their degrees.
Chancellor Carol Folt says the "Complete Carolina" program will start the readmission process for the former athletes, and then provide both academic and career counseling. Athletes would receive scholarships or financial support in line with what they had during their initial time at UNC.
The program would be funded by the athletic department and be available for athletes who were in good academic standing when they left.
Folt told UNC's board of trustees Thursday that the program will start receiving applications in September. She says the school has offered these opportunities informally for years but is now formalizing the program.
Folt says the school hopes "as many as possible" return to finish coursework.
RoundPoint Mortgage to lay off 166 in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A mortgage company plans to lay off 166 employees in Charlotte.
The Charlotte Observer reported that documents filed with the North Carolina Commerce Department indicate that RoundPoint Mortgage Co. plans to lay off the workers at the company's Charlotte headquarters.
RoundPoint said most of the layoffs are expected around Sept. 19. They cover a wide range of positions, including loan officers, analysts and various types of managers.
RoundPoint is an online mortgage company that originates loans in all 50 states.
Man arrested in Thomasville standoff
THOMASVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Police in Thomasville who arrested a man after a standoff say he's the same man seen in a video in Charlotte riding on top of his girlfriend's car on Interstate 77.
Twenty-two-year-old Rakeem Nishan Leverett of Lexington was arrested around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on charges of assault, larceny and resisting arrest. Charlotte police have charged Leverett with assault, illegal restraint, injury to personal property, unauthorized use of a vehicle and failure to appear in court.
Thomasville police Capt. Mark Kattner said the standoff began after a woman identifying herself as Leverett's girlfriend reported a domestic disturbance.
Kattner said it was the same woman reportedly involved in a disturbance with Leverett in Charlotte on June 28 that resulted in the car ride.
It was not clear whether Leverett has an attorney.
NC man admits to firing shots near W.Va. school
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A Charlotte, North Carolina, man has pleaded guilty to firing a gun near a school in Charleston.
Media outlets report 20-year-old Aric Adams entered a guilty plea Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court to wanton endangerment and brandishing.
Adams had been indicted in federal court, but as part of his plea agreement, the federal case will be dropped.
Prosecutors say Adams fired eight times on March 25 shortly after students at J.E. Robins Elementary School were released at the end of the school day.
Adams faces up to six years in prison. Sentencing has been set for Aug. 22.
Panthers not asking Charlotte for more money
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A spokesman with the Carolinas Panthers says there are no plans to ask for more money to make improvements at the team's stadium.
The Charlotte Observer reported the team has finished the first round of renovations at Bank of America Stadium. Most of the work so far has been paid with tax dollars.
Panthers' spokesman Charlie Drayton says there are no plans to ask Charlotte for more tax dollars.
Charlotte City Council approved nearly $88 million for the team last year. That deal keeps the Panthers in Charlotte through the 2018 season. The agreement says if the city pays another $50 million, the Panthers might extend their agreement to stay for another four years.
The deadline on whether to pay the extra money is Aug. 1, 2015.
Moogfest festival to return to Asheville in 2016
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Organizers say Moogfest will return to Asheville in 2016, becoming an event that occurs every two years.
The festival brings technologists, entrepreneurs and music fans to Asheville.
Moog Music Inc. President Mike Adams says conducting the event every two years will make it more special. The company invested $3 million in this year's event, which ended up with a loss of $1.5 million.
Adams says the privately held company cannot afford to spend that much every year.
Adams says corporate sponsorship will help make the festival financially sustainable every two years.
Moog Music makes electronic music instruments.
The April event included more than 100 musical performances, 105 speakers, panels, multimedia installations and public art exhibits and expositions. It included almost 20 locations in downtown Asheville.
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