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News Briefs (Jan. 10 - 16)

1/10/2014, 6 a.m.

The governor's office says Willcott is a certified child welfare law specialist with lengthy experience in the juvenile justice system. Willcott has her own practice and is a special assistant attorney general for the Rockdale and Dawson County Department of Family and Children Services. Willcott's appointment is effective Feb. 1.

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Gov. Nathan Deal

Deal campaign reports $4 million in contributions

ATLANTA (AP) - The campaign of Gov. Nathan Deal is reporting $4 million in contributions over the last six months, as he seeks re-election this year.

Deal's campaign spokeswoman Jen Talaber said Wednesday that the campaign had just over $4 million in cash on hand at the end of 2013. Talaber said 94 percent of contributions came from within Georgia.

While Deal is considered a favorite heading into the Republican primary, he's drawn two relatively well-known challengers. Dalton Mayor David Pennington reported just under $375,000 in contributions, including a $46,700 loan. State schools Superintendent John Barge has yet to file his report.

Meanwhile, the campaign of Democrat Jason Carter has said he will report $1.3 million in contributions in the seven weeks since announcing. Carter is a state senator and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

Ga. banker pleads not guilty to fraud charges

STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) - A former Georgia banker accused of stealing millions from investors before vanishing for 18 months pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal bank fraud charges and agreed to remain jailed without bond pending trial.

Aubrey Lee Price, 47, didn't speak as he sat hunched between his court-appointed lawyer and an attorney who's a family friend and has agreed to assist with his case for free. Though prosecutors say he misspent, embezzled and lost $21 million, Price was able to show the court that he doesn't have enough money to hire a lawyer, said U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.

Authorities say Price faked financial records in an attempt to cover his tracks before he disappeared in June 2012. He sent letters to his family and acquaintances saying he was "incapable of continuing in this life'' and other strong hints that he planned to commit suicide. A Florida judge declared Price dead a year ago. Meanwhile, the Montgomery Bank & Trust, a rural bank near Vidalia at which Price served as a director since 2010, closed because its assets and reserves were depleted.

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Joe Rickey Hundley received an 8-month sentence for slapping this child on a Delta flight.

Man in toddler-slapping plane case gets 8 months

ATLANTA (AP) - A federal judge on Monday sentenced a man who pleaded guilty to slapping a crying toddler on an Atlanta-bound flight to serve eight months in federal prison.

Joe Rickey Hundley was accused of using a racial slur to refer to the 19-month-old boy, who's black, and hitting him under the eye as the flight from Minneapolis descended to the Atlanta airport last February. He pleaded guilty in October to simple assault after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of six months in prison, and Hundley reserved his right to argue for a lower sentence. U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman said he imposed a higher sentence in part because of Hundley's criminal history, which includes a prior assault.