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Archive for September, 2011

ONLY ON 3: Columbus County bondsman says unsecured bonds are out of control

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A bond is supposed to keep criminal suspects behind bars. But, in the last four months, hundreds of people in Columbus County, including some with violent charges, have been issued unsecured bonds.

A two-inch stack of unsecured bonds includes crimes like drug trafficking, sexual battery and assault on a child under 12. When placed under an unsecured bond the defendant is trusted to appear in court on the assigned date and to stay away from their alleged victims.

Judge Douglas Sesser and Judge Jerry Jolly drew up the new bail policy for Columbus and Bladen counties in May. Mark Cartret, who owns a bail bonds office in Columbus County, says he hasn’t seen a policy as liberal as this in any other district. He says before the new policy was implemented, unsecured bonds accounted for about 25 to 30 percent of bonds issued. In the past few months, Cartret says the amount of unsecured bonds has exploded.

“I have approximately 1,000 unsecured bonds that I’m looking at, which correlates to approximately 97.2 percent of bonds that are issued by magistrates in Columbus County,” said Cartret.

Under the new policy, to issue a secured bond, magistrates must fill out a three-page questionnaire on each defendant, making it a more cumbersome process. Cartret says the policy makes it much easier for magistrates to issue unsecured bonds.

“So to tell a magistrate, who is often working long shifts, that they’ve got to do three pages of additional paperwork to issue secure bonds is almost a burden on them,” said Cartret.

We did speak with Judge Sasser who says he modeled the policy after the North Carolina general statute. He says he trusts the magistrates to make the right decision in determining what kind of bond to issue.

More: continued here

Teenager charged in Pine Valley break-ins

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

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UPDATE: Carolina Beach leaders to look at numbers before decision on billing error

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Town Manager Tim Owens says the billing department recently discovered customers were not billed enough for water and sewer services. The Town raised rates in their 2010/2011 fiscal year budget, but didn’t adjust the rates in the billing system. That means some customers paid lower rates.

The Town Council considered how to cover the estimated $125,000 loss at its meeting Tuesday night. Owens recommended a $3.00 per month increase for water and sewer service.

“My recommendation would be that we move the rates to where they should have been moved in the first place. We’ve got a lot of water and sewer infrastructure that we’re trying to do now. We’ve got a lot of stuff in place as far as planning those. We’ve got aging infrastructure and a lot of water situations and we need to get moving on our long-term water reduction needs,” Owens said.

Some council members spoke out in support of immediately raising the rate while others proposed looking at the projected revenue and spending numbers before deciding if the rate is necessary to impose. The council tabled the issue until its next meeting in 30 days.

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Judge may ban media from Berger protective order hearing

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We have learned that District Court Judge Sandra Ray Criner is considering banning all media from New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger’s protective order hearing Friday.

It’s not unusual for a judge to ban cameras in the courtroom, but it’s very rare for one to ban reporters from sitting the courtroom and taking notes.

Berger’s ex-girlfriend Heather Blaylock took out a protective order last week against Berger. He was served minutes after a news conference where he announced he would not resign.

Both have been in the media countless times since January when DSS investigated to see if Blaylock’s children, who were living with Berger, were living in unsuitable conditions. Neither DSS, Berger or Blaylock would tell us what the outcome of the investiagtion was.

WWAY has contacted the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters to get more information on media law and courtroom issues regarding the banning of reporters from a public hearing.

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ONLY ON 3: Leland police officer wins harassment complaint against police department

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — We have learned that a Leland police officer recently filed a harassment charge against the police department – and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found in her favor late last week.

Multiple sources tell us Sherry Lewis was shot in the private area multiple times with training simulation ammunition by fellow officers.

Her attorney says she was injured by the shots.

Leland Police Chief Timothy Jayne referred our calls to Town Manager Bill Farris.

We called Farris around 4:45 p.m. and asked a receptionist to track him down. As of 5:30 p.m. he has chosen not to return the call.

The Leland Town Council is scheduled to discuss the matter at their Thursday meeting.

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