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Archive for August, 2009

Altercations between Soles and clients keeping police busy

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

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Last week, a Columbus County house burned down in a suspicious fire. Since then, we’ve been looking into the relationship between the boy who lived there, 17-year-old Allen Strickland and the man who Strickland says paid for the house, Senator R.C. Soles.

The two have known each other since Strickland was 14.

The 74-year-old Senator befriended Strickland, and served as his attorney, but the two have a rocky relationship.

In fact, Soles has a rocky relationship with many of his clients, as proven by dozens of police reports, just in the last year.

There are about 20 reports, nearly all of them involving altercations between the Senator and his clients.

“This has been sort of an ongoing thing with a lot of clients and ex-clients. I’ve been here for five years, and it’s kind of a steady amount of calls of that nature,” said Capt. Dean Foley of the Tabor City Police Department.

While a handful of calls involve the Senator calling in complaints about 17-year-old Allen Strickland. Other young, male clients have been involved in the disputes as well.

The nature of the complaints range from trespassing at the senator’s law firm and residence, to larceny, harassment, and even extortion.

The Senator’s calls for help come in at all hours of the day and night.

They take up a lot of time for the police department, but rarely result in prosecution. “He doesn’t want to press charges the majority of the time,” Foley said.

R.C. Soles’ clients say they’re frustrated with the mixed messages they’re getting from him.

“I really don’t know how to feel about him being my attorney, and calling the cops on me and having me banned from his office,” said Jackie Jordan, one of Soles’ clients.

Strickland added, “He said he’s tired of us being at the office, but he’s our lawyer, so that’s what we don’t understand.”

Columbus County residents may remember another situation a few years ago with a client of Senator Soles named B.J. Wright.

Wright had dozens of charges against him dropped with Senator Soles’ assistance, but the District Attorney ultimately decided to prosecute him anyway, and he was sent to prison.

Wright is scheduled to be released next week.

We called D.A. Rex Gore to see if he’s considered intervening again because of the volume of called related to Senator Soles and his clients. He says not at this point.

While there are a lot of calls to police involving the Senator, R.C. Soles hasn’t been pressing charges, so at this point, the District Attorney for that area says there’s not a lot he can do.

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videoSenator Soles has a rocky relationship with many of his clients, as proven by dozens of police reports, just in the last year.

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Associated poll

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The effects of an increase in the sales and sin tax

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

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One part of the state budget that will inevitably affect everyone is the one percent sales tax increase. That hike may seem insignificant to some, but even a dime here and there can add up.

The budget also targets folks with vices. People who smoke tobacco and drink malt liquor will see a tax increase as well.

For one local cigar shop owner, the state is shaking up an industry that is already struggling. “Let me tell you, a ten percent tobacco tax I can eat that, I can absorb a ten percent tobacco tax. Thirty-one percent, I have to pass on to my consumer,” said Frank Bullara, owner of Bugsy’s Cigars.

The most popular cigar at Bugsy’s costs around five dollars. With the new tax, that will bring it up to a little over six dollars.

The idea behind hiking up sales and sin taxes is to make up for the decline in revenue in our state.

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One part of the state budget that will inevitably affect everyone is the one percent sales tax increase. That hike may seem insignificant to some, but even a dime here and there can add up.

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Associated poll

More: continued here

Brunswick superintendent says she was exonerated in grievance

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

By Ana RibeiroAna.Ribeiro@StarNewsOnline.com

Behind her careful makeup and unruffled suit, exasperation visibly weighed on Katie McGee Tuesday night.

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Troubleshooters: Disputing credit card charges

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

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Robert Pfeffer was in the market for a house. He was under contract on a town home in Wilmington’s Birch Creek community, and started pricing home warranties. He called a company the seller recommended, National Home Protection, and got a good quote by phone, but told them he couldn’t purchase the warranty until he closed on his home.

“They said don’t worry about it. It doesn’t kick in for 30 days, if you don’t get the home just cancel it,” Pfeffer said.

After asking a number of questions to ensure that the warranty was refundable if his home deal fell through, Robert agreed, and gave National Home Protection his credit card number. Unfortunately for Robert, the deal on the town home fell through, and National Home Protection refused to refund Robert for the $800 warranty. So Robert called his credit card company.

“Discover immediately put a charge back on it, said that they would investigate. I then get a notice a month later that they investigated, and that to the best of their knowledge, the deal was legit and that I would have to pay them,” he said.

Robert was being told to pay for a home warranty on a home he didn’t own, even though he said he’d been promised a full refund. He never signed a contract, but Discover still sided with National Home Protection, saying they were an “authorized merchant”.

It did not take us much digging to find that National Home Protection has a less than stellar reputation. The company has been sued by the Attorneys General of New York and Texas for unsavory business practices and hundreds of complaints are lodged against them with the Better Business Bureau.

The number we called for National Home Protection has been disconnected, and an e-mail we sent to a company manager was returned as undeliverable. So you might wonder why Discover card took their side.

“We deal with this every single day. We see it every single day,” said Dwayne Furmidge of American Credit Resolutions. “The credit card companies are not our friends. They’re not going to go to bat for you; the only thing the credit card company is going to do is send you a monthly bill. If you pay it, you guys are friends, but if you don’t pay it, you guys are foes. They’re going to do whatever is necessary to collect upon that debt, ethical or not.”

While Discover may have been able to recover their money from National Home Protection when Robert first complained, their chances of getting that money back now are slim, since it appears the company has gone out of business.

Discover tells Newschannel 3 they have closed this investigation, and have notified the credit reporting agencies that Robert didn’t pay his bill.

Robert said he has no intention of paying Discover for a product he never received, but he needs to get this resolved, because it’s damaging his credit.

Credit counselors tell us there are laws in place to protect consumers who have fraudulent charges on their credit reports. You basically write a certified letter to the various credit reporting agencies like Equifax and Experian. The credit agencies then have 30 days to verify the charge on your account is accurate by getting their hands on a legally binding contract signed by the consumer. If they can’t, they are required by law to remove the damaging information from your credit report.

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In today’s Troubleshooters Report, how to get a disputed charge resolved with your credit card company. Robert Pfeffer thought he went through the proper channels to dispute a charge from a home warranty company, but the credit card company wouldn’t budge.

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Associated poll

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Order accuses Oak Island councilman of stalking

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

By Shelby SebensShelby.Sebens@StarNewsOnline.com

A woman has taken out a protection order against an Oak Island councilman, accusing him of stalking.

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