A Rowan County man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for trafficking cocaine from Mexico to North Carolina.
Officials said Freddie Andaya, also known as Raymond Garcia, was the leader of a drug conspiracy.
They said he ran a drug ring in Mecklenburg, Iredell, Union and Rowan counties.
He also had a stash house in Concord.
Officials said Andaya sold more than $10 million worth of cocaine in the area.
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Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:53:36 -0400
A jury decided Wednesday a 20-year-old accused of killing a man on Farm Pond Lane was not guilty of the crime.
The jury found Brenton Samuels not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2013 slaying of Monte Gay.
Terrence Parker has already been sentenced to more than 18 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in the crime.
Officials said Parker admitted to the killing.
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Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:05:29 -0400
Charlotte's newest outlet mall will open its doors Thursday morning.
Eyewitness News saw crews finishing the final touches Wednesday night at Charlotte Premium Outlets in Steele Creek.
For guides to the mall, slideshows and more, click here.
Shoppers say they are anxious to get in the 100 new stores but are also concerned about traffic.
Staff members told channel 9 they have a plan to help with the congestion.
For the first four days of business they'll use shuttles to get shoppers back and forth from overflow parking lots.
Those lots are located off Steele Creek Road at Shopton Road and Dixie River Road.
Eyewitness News will be there for the opening of the new outlets and our coverage begins on Eyewitness News Daybreak at 4:30 a.m.
Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:44:22 -0400
A man was shot and killed Wednesday night on North Pine Street in north Charlotte, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe.
The victim was taken to the hospital where he died and police are looking for the shooter.
He said the victim was wearing a monitoring device on his ankle, Monroe said.
The victim was identified as 25-year-old Matthew Ryan Wood.
A witness said, "We heard the gunshots. Seen a lot of kids running and the next thing we know, we seen a white Camaro go up the street."
Stay with www.wsoctv.com and watch Eyewitness News Daybreak at 4:30 a.m. for any updates.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:49:25 -0400
(AP) — A federal judge imposed a $1.3 billion civil penalty against Bank of America on Wednesday for its role in selling risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that were advertised as safe investments.
The fine was against Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America purchased in 2008 as the financial crisis was unfolding. It is the latest legal ruling against Wall Street.
A jury found in October 2013 that BofA was liable for Countrywide's role in selling risky loans to the government housing agencies through a program nicknamed the "Hustle" from August 2007 to May 2008. The jury found that Countrywide executives deliberately misrepresented the quality of mortgages being sold.
In his blunt ruling, Judge Jed Rakoff said the program was "driven by a hunger for profits and oblivious to the harms thereby visited, not just on the immediate victims but also on the financial system as a whole."
This is the first time a bank or its executives have been found liable under federal law for mortgage fraud leading up to the financial crisis, said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. It is also the first time civil penalties have been imposed on a bank or its executives for mortgage fraud.
"(It is) clear that mortgage fraud cannot be viewed as simply another cost of doing business in the financial world," Bharara said.
A spokesman for Bank of America, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, said the bank is exploring its legal options following Rakoff's decision, including an appeal.
"We believe (the penalty) simply bares no relation to a limited Countrywide program that lasted several months and ended before Bank of America's acquisition of the company," BofA spokesman Larry Grayson said.
Countrywide was one of many mortgage companies that sold risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac leading up to the housing bubble popping and subsequent financial crisis.
Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and other big Wall Street banks have paid out billions of dollars in legal settlements for their roles in the financial crisis. For JPMorgan, the settlements mostly stemmed from its purchases of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers; in Bank of America's case, it was mainly from its acquisitions of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch.
Rakoff imposed a separate $1 million penalty against Rebecca Mairone, a former Countrywide executive, for her role in the program. Lawyers representing Mairone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:15:35 -0400
Education groups are criticizing a new state plan to raise teacher pay because they are concerned the amount state leaders promise to give isn't as good as it seems.
"We're coming to the understanding that it is smoke and mirrors," said Charlie Smith with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators.
A copy of the budget bill has not been made public but Smith said officials in Raleigh told him the average 7 percent pay raise lawmakers are touting shortchanges state employees who receive longevity pay.
Now, teachers with 10 years or more experience receive a bonus check that's not taxed.
The proposed plan includes eliminating longevity pay and lumping it into pay raises.
The proposed pay plan associated with pay raises shows teachers' salaries would increase every five years instead of every year.
Some experienced teachers would get less of a pay raise than other teachers with just a few years less experience.
"You're slapping the experienced teachers in the face by saying, 'Here's a raise but part of the money, you already have,'" said Smith.
Mecklenburg County leaders have promised to match the state pay raise lawmakers agree on with the raise 991 county-funded teachers would get.
The number of experienced CMS teachers could determine how much extra cash Mecklenburg county leaders have to find to match that state pay raises.
"Once we know what that number is, we need to determine if we have enough in restricted contingency," said Diorio.
County Manager Dena Diorio said there is enough money set aside to pay for 2 percent raises for 991 county-funded teachers who don't get the state pay raise.
To match the increases the state sets, money may have to be pulled from the county's savings account or county leaders could use money earmarked to pay back debt.
"I think there are multiple options that we would have to consider," said Diorio.
If the budget bill passes, the raises would apply this school year.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:30:16 -0400
Songs of strength and healing echoed throughout Calvary Church in South Charlotte Wednesday evening.
Hundreds gathered in the sanctuary to pray for Nancy Writebol, a fellow member and missionary, who contracted Ebola while helping with the treatment of those already infected in Liberia.
“God is with Nancy and David Writebol,” said Rev. David Munro.
Nancy’s husband David is also in Liberia but not infected with Ebola.
The congregation was able to talk with him for the first time through an audio chat on Skype during the service.
David Writebol’s first words were “God is great,” when referencing the ability to communicate with his church family from such a great distance.
The conversation quickly turned to Nancy Writebol and her condition.
“Nancy’s spirits are high but she’s still very ill,” said David Writebol. “She’s sitting up. She’s talking with us. She’s drinking a lot of fluids which is good for her right now.”
David said he is able to interact with his wife but only while wearing a protective suit.
He reiterated their faith remains strong said they were blessed to have the opportunity to work in Liberia.
“We’re privileged to serve and administer God’s grace in Liberia,” he said.
The church asked the congregation to continue to pray Nancy Writebol’s full recovery, as well as Dr. Kent Brantly who also contracted the disease.
Read more past coverage:
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:34:09 -0400
Saturday’s Guinness International Champions Cup between Liverpool FC and AC Milan has been declared an Extraordinary Event by Charlotte city officials.
The game will be held at Bank of America Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
City Manager Ron Carlee along with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department determined that the event meets the criteria to be declared as an Extraordinary Event.
The Extraordinary Event ordinance was adopted Jan. 23, 2012, and is defined as a large-scale event of national or international significance with may attract thousands of people to the area.
More than 60,000 tickets have been sold for the match.
A fan fest will be held Saturday on South Mint Street. Fan fest will open to the public at 4 p.m., until the start of the game.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:14:54 -0400
Another wrestling coach took the stand Wednesday and defended a former coach accused of sexually assaulting East Gaston High School wrestlers.
The former assistant coach said that was all part of the wrestling culture and it wasn't regarded as strange. He also told the jury he believes Scott Goins is innocent.
As an assistant wrestling coach, Terry Edge worked very closely with Goins.
“I would not have let my son wrestle if I had any idea. Never,” he said.
Goins is accused of sexually assaulting three East Gaston High School wrestlers. One accuser claimed Goins even slept in the bed with him on a wrestling trip and forced him to have sex.
Edge said he doesn't believe the allegations.
He claimed things like hugging players, and even sleeping in the same bed were normal.
“It was just somewhere to lay your head down,” he said.
Two former wrestlers denied allegations of physical abuse by Goins. They described him as a motivating leader, someone who only pushed students to make them better. They told the jury they never observed any sexual abuse.
During cross examination, a former wrestling parent admitted she thought Goins was too close to one of the accusers and even confronted him about it.
“I would see favoritism and my son would talk to me about it. He felt like (one of the wrestlers) was getting better treatment,” she said.
Five witnesses took the stand. Defense questioning will continue Thursday. The judge hinted the trial could be over by this time next week.
Read our past coverage:
June 5, 2013: Police: Gaston Co. coach accused of molesting students
June 6, 2013: 3rd student accuses coach of sexual abuse
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:05:58 -0400
The plate is supposed to stand for “I love Tofu” but the state of Tennessee thought ILVTOFU had a more adult interpretation.
“All I’m trying to do is spread a pro-vegan message with my license plate,” said PETA employee Whitney Calk.
Whitney told WKRN-TV, when she got a letter from the state saying her request had been denied. She called to ask why.
"She let me know it was rejected due to vulgarity," Calk confirmed.
The assistant manager for youth marketing said there was no devious intent in mind.
“It just seemed logical to change my license plate to something I believed in.”
Calk isn’t the first person to be told no in this situation.
People in Florida, Virginia, and Colorado have also been told the lettering would be too suggestive.
Whitney has had several suggestions for alternatives via social media but instead, she decided to drop the matter.
“I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t want to compromise with what was written,” Calk finished.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:56:01 -0400
What started out as a good Samaritan act turned into a nightmare for one Colorado couple.
The incident took place in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree store in Longmont.
KDVR reports that Shannon Rodriguez, 43, and boyfriend Alan Mason were alarmed when they spotted a child alone in a car, with all of the windows rolled up. Rodriguez said the car was parked in direct sunlight.
Dominguez called 911. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she and her boyfriend were the ones who were soon going to need medical attention.
When the boy’s mother, Krista Riddell, 27, returned to the car and realized Dominguez had called authorities, she became enraged, striking Mason on the face and threatening to beat up Dominguez.
Things would go from bad to worse.
According to the report, Riddell jumped in her car, backed up and then accelerated towards the couple. Dominguez was struck first. Mason was propelled over the car hood and tried to hang on, but when he realized Riddell wasn’t stopping he let go and landed on the ground. His injuries included internal and external bruises.
Dominguez was less fortunate. Her left leg was crushed, and she now is confined to a wheelchair. Doctors have told her she may never walk normally again.
According to the news report, Riddell has a lengthy criminal history, including assault and numerous driving violations. She now faces charges of assault, hit-and-run and child abuse.
Riddell was not at home when reporters went to her residence seeking an interview.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:31:10 -0400
Neighbors who live in an area of Seattle near Cheasty Boulevard South say they've complained about a man who has dug up extensive ditches in the environmentally protected Cheasty Greenspace.
Ed Neubold said the man, known as "James" and also "Moleman," is ruining some of the city's wetlands by digging deep dtiches, caverns and steps in the protected area.
Wednesday, officials from Seattle Parks and Recreation searched for the man in the wooded area across from a golf course, with the intent of giving him a no-tresspass order.
The city said the man is homeless and it will try to get him social services so he can find another place to live.
The city has also issued a "notice to remove" at the encampment area, ordering anyone living there to remove their belongings.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:20:44 -0400
Thousands of people are hopping into the cars of complete strangers to get around town.
They're using ride-sharing programs Uber and Lyft.
The ride sharing companies are like taxi companies, except drivers use their personal cars.
Their standards for safety are up to Uber and Lyft -- not city officials, who regulate cab drivers.
Channel 9 reporter Jenna Deery took five rides in one day.
Both companies say they require safe drivers using safe cars.
Channel 9 noticed all of the cars we rode in were clean.
One Uber driver even provided his own refreshments.
Overall, the drivers were pleasant.
One Lyft driver said she was trained and is supervised on how she treats passengers.
Both companies said they conduct background checks on every driver and inspect his or her vehicle.
They said they deny any applicant who has a criminal conviction or bad driving record within the past seven years.
Channel 9 found that some drivers in other cities have made it past those checkpoints..
These men had prior convictions from burglary and reckless driving to DUI, but they were allowed to drive for Uber in Chicago and San Francisco.
The app shows you a picture of the driver and his or her vehicle, but customers have no way of verifying the drivers' backgrounds.
Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said neither does the city.
“We want to make sure that we don't have violent people, dangerous people driving these people,” he said.
City leaders are considering whether the drivers should follow the same rules cab drivers follow.
“I don't think we are overreacting. In fact, we are taking fairly measurable steps to protect the public,” Barnes said.
Cab drivers have to pay $500 for a permit, undergo a background check and maintain proper insurance.
Civil litigation attorney Mike Daisley said most personal policies don't apply if a personal car is being used for business purposes.
Uber and Lyft advertise coverage that protects passengers if a wreck happens while drivers are working.
“What happens if there is actually an accident or a wreck remains to be seen, but at least they are advertising to the public that their drivers do have adequate liability insurance,” Daisley said.
Both services have their skeptics, but they also seem to be attracting many fans.
Customers have to rate Uber and Lyft drivers.
Four stars or better are required for them to keep driving.
The question is whether local leaders will have a say on how they drive too.
Drivers can also rate passengers.
Passengers have to keep a good rating or they won't be picked up.
City leaders may recommend regulation options for Uber and Lyft in the fall.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:01:40 -0400
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed Wednesday a new federal motor vehicle safety standard to protect motor coach and other large bus passengers in rollover crashes.
The proposal aims to improve the structural design of large buses to ensure that passengers are better protected in a deadly vehicle rollover by ensuring that the space around them remains sufficiently intact and the emergency exits remain operable.
"The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "I want passengers to know that when this department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction."
The proposed standard would establish performance requirements that each new motor coach and large bus must meet when subjected to a dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. The proposed standard would require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash; require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test; and require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:05:44 -0400
The Louvre is a must-see tourist attraction for those visiting Paris, but there's a very unwelcome visitor in the gardens outside â€‹â€‹it: rats. (Via Getty Images)
"Experts estimate that in Paris there are approximately two rats for every Parisian. And in the Tuileries Gardens next to the Louvre, the furry vermin have become so used to humans, they don't even hide." (Via France 24)
So, that's a lot of rats. How did they all get there?
â€‹It seems people are pointing their fingers at tourists as the party responsible for the problem. The Guardian spoke with a local gardener, who said:
"The tourists throw their scraps of pizza and sandwiches all over the place." (Via The Guardian)
Although The Local reports rats in public gardens have been an issue in the past, too.
"For some tourists the rats are all part of the Parisian experience, thanks to Disney animation 'Ratatouille.'"
The movie is about a rat in Paris who aspires to become a chef. However, that rat is a lot cuter than real rats. (Via Buena Vista Pictures / "Ratatouille")
"They are having problems with a major infestation of them." (Via ABC)
But headlines from overseas were a bit more generous. While the word "infestation" may be used in those articles, the headlines say things like "rampage" and "overrun." Although we would say "plague" is a bit dramatic. (Via France 24, The Guardian, The Telegraph)
The Louvre says pesticides are used regularly, and officials have brought in outside help. The story picked up steam after a photographer took pictures of the rats.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:57:23 -0400
South Carolina health officials sent an alert Wednesday about four people exposed to a rabid bat.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control can't tell Channel 9 who was exposed to rabies, what neighborhood it happened in or how it happened due to privacy laws.
However, all four people are being treated at Piedmont Medical Center.
It's believed that the exposure was connected to a single incident, but officials wouldn't say if the victims were related.
All four people came to the Infusion Center at Piedmont Medical Center Tuesday after DHEC contacted them about the test results.
Piedmont nurse and infection specialist Eleanor Raymes said being in the same room as a rabid animal puts you at risk. You don't have to be bitten or scratched.
“If the person was in bed, and there was a bat that just so happened to fly in the window and land on the bed, there's a chance that they were exposed to the saliva from that," she said.
Health officials won't say what happened in this case but Raymes said it's rare that bats are the culprit at all.
"In York County it's usually a fox. Every year you're going to hear of a fox that they think or may definitely have been rabid," she said.
DHEC reported that the bat is the ninth animal to test positive for rabies in York County this year. There were 12 last year.
Statewide 124 animals tested positive for rabies in 2013 and 75 have this year.
On average 275 people are treated for rabies exposure every year in South Carolina.
Officials at the hospital would only tell Channel 9 the four people exposed have had the first round of shots and will be back several more times for continued treatment.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:48:50 -0400
Forty people in Lincolnton are facing several charges after a drug roundup overnight.
Channel 9 was the only television station with Lincolnton investigators as they carried out search warrants and brought suspects to jail.
When Channel 9 was with officers, they arrested about half of the 40 people they were looking for Wednesday morning.
Those taken into custody were taken to the magistrates office; the rest are expected to turn themselves in.
Police said the combined charges for all 40 total more than 150 felonies and four misdemeanors.
The main charges are for trafficking, selling and delivering, and possession with intent to sell. The drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin and prescription pills.
Channel 9 was part of a nine-month investigation that police said started from citizen complaints and anonymous calls.
Neighbors said they're tired of drug activity in their neighborhood.
“You know, you don't want all this activity going on and you don't want your child to follow in the same footsteps,” said Jameelah Davis.
Police said they plan to release names and pictures of the people they weren't able to arrest.
Channel 9 was told that if they don't turn themselves in, there will be outstanding warrants for their arrest.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:40:22 -0400
When officers arrived, Phillip Norman was asleep in his car.
However, earlier that night, Norman was seen stumbling around a parking lot and carrying on a heck of a conversation with several bushes and shrubs.
Reports in the News Herald say police in Hickory, North Carolina got a call from a store manager who was concerned when he saw Norman acting strangely.
Cops charged Norman with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, but that was only the beginning.
Police discovered Norman had active warrants for felony larceny, and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance from another county.
Norman allowed authorities to search the car. They found a spoon and needles, but it's not known if he was under the influence of intoxicants of any kind.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:10:01 -0400
Mecklenburg County Health Department officials said preliminary tests on a patient admitted to Carolinas Medical Center - Main's Tuesday night who traveled from Africa indicated malaria.
The Health Department is waiting for final test results from CMC to determine if that is the case.
Those results are expected within seven days.
Malaria is a non-transmittable disease.
For more information on malaria, visit the CDC's website, here.
A corridor of CMC's Emergency Room was roped off on the first floor, near the entrance earlier Wednesday.
A security guard was posted outside, to prevent anyone from crossing the line.
During a 4 p.m. press conference Katie Passaretti, who is an infectious disease specialist with CMC, said precautions were put into place when patient was brought in Tuesday night. The patient was traveling from Africa and arrived at the hospital around 11:30 p.m.
Around 3 a.m. the security precautions were put into place at the hospital, Passaretti said.
Passaretti said they determined the patient did not have Ebola. The patient has been discharged home.
'There was great communication between hospital and CDC. The hospital staff did an excellent job," Passaretti said
Passaretti said there are no cases of Ebola in the United States
Earlier in the day, a CMC spokesperson released the following statement around noon Wednesday:
"Late last evening, a patient arrived at Carolinas Medical Center Emergency Department after visiting a country known for high risk of infectious diseases. We took all appropriate infection control measures to protect patients, staff, and visitors. After consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and NC Department of Health and Human Services, it appears the risk for communicable disease is low. No further testing is needed and the patient will be sent home. The Emergency Department at Carolinas Medical Center remains open and operating normally."
CMC officials said earlier Wednesday that a patient was being tested, but a spokesman would not specify what for. Officials with CMC said Wednesday afternoon the patient had recently visited Africa.
The Department of Health and Human Services said it was first informed of the situation Wednesday morning and was in close contact with Carolinas Healthcare System.
The clinical care team and public health officials have reviewed the case in great detail and have determined that the patient’s illness and epidemiologic information are not consistent with Ebola infection, DHHS said. Therefore, Ebola testing will not be performed.
The patient is receiving treatment for another unrelated condition and does not represent a public health threat, DHHS said.
This scare comes after news of a Charlotte missionary, Nancy Writebol, who tested positive for Ebola this weekend. Nancy and her husband, David, have been doing missionary work in Liberia for the past year.
Check back to wsoctv.com for updates to this story.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:09:40 -0400
The “fire challenge” has shown up on several Internet sites, and many teenagers have acted, setting themselves on fire.
One 15-year-old in Lexington, Kentucky found out the hard way exactly how devastating it can be.
"I just poured alcohol on it, and lit it, and it just automatically went and burst," he told WKYT-TV.
The effects were immediate, and devastating. "Unbearable," he began. "Literally after it got put out it was already blistering."
CBS Cleveland reports some of the online video’s show teenagers using aerosol cans to spray themselves before they set themselves ablaze.
Cops remind the kids are not just endangering themselves.
Anytime fire is involved it can spread quickly, causing damage or injury to anyone or anything nearby.
Police in Lexington are investigating.
Published: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:40:16 -0400