Georgia tells company’s workers to repay jobless benefits

ATLANTA (AP) – The Georgia Department of Labor is demanding the repayment of unemployment benefits from current and former employees of an Atlanta restaurant group, saying the employer made mistakes in filing unemployment claims.

WXIA-TV reports that the state labor agency is seeking nearly $28,000 from Kacey Carelson, one of the former employees of Rocket Farm Restaurants. The Atlanta company, led by chef Ford Fry, runs 11 restaurants across metro Atlanta, including four Superica restaurants. “That’s half my year’s salary,” Carelson said. “I can’t live if I pay that back. I’m a little taken aback by the whole situation.”

Department spokesperson Kersha Cartwright said that errors such as misspellings, incorrect Social Security numbers or incorrect wages could lead to unintentional fraud, trigging an overpayment of benefits. She did not say how much money the Labor Department requested from the Rocket Farm Restaurants employees or what mistake led to the overpayment of benefits. Cartwright said unintentional fraud does not happen often.

Patients get additional relief in Georgia health care fight

ATLANTA (AP) – Patients caught in the middle of a contract dispute between insurance giant Anthem and the Atlanta-area’s Northside Hospital system are getting an additional reprieve.

Fulton County Judge Rachelle Carnesale on Friday extended a temporary restraining order keeping Northside in Anthem’s network, news outlets reported. The order now goes until April 15. It also includes a provision for a settlement conference between Anthem and Northside by Feb. 25.

Anthem members were facing the possibility that their in-network coverage for Northside hospitals and doctors would end Monday. The two sides have been fighting over payments for treatment for months. The dispute could affect hundreds of thousands of patients.

Atlanta police make second arrest in fatal shooting of infant

ATLANTA (AP) – Atlanta police have arrested a second person in connection with the shooting death of a 6-month-old baby.

Police announced Thursday that Sharice Ingram turned herself in on Wednesday. She is charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in the Monday death of Grayson Fleming-Gray. The baby was shot while riding in a vehicle.

Police on Tuesday arrested 22-year-old Dequasie Little, also charging him with aggravated assault and felony murder. Both Little and Ingram remained jailed Thursday. It’s unclear if either one has an attorney who could comment on the charges. Police had said they believed someone else besides Little was involved.

3 indicted in fire at Wendy’s after Rayshard Brooks killing

ATLANTA (AP) – Three people have been indicted on arson charges in the burning of the Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta where a police officer fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in June 2020.

A Fulton County grand jury on Thursday indicted 24-year-old Chisom Kingston, 35-year-old John Wade and 31-year-old Natalie White on two counts each of first-degree arson and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree arson. All three were previously arrested on arson charges within weeks of the fire and were released on bond. The fast food restaurant was set on fire during a protest on June 13, 2020, the night after a police officer fatally shot Brooks.

Defense attorney Drew Findling, who represents White, said video footage his team has reviewed is “helpful towards Natalie.” The conspiracy charge is “baffling because we have absolutely no idea who these other two people are, and certainly they have no relationship with Natalie,” he said.

Khalil Eaddy, a lawyer for Kingston, said he doesn’t deny that his client was at the Wendy’s restaurant taking part in a peaceful protest, but he said Kingston is innocent of all the charges. He also said video shot at the scene “actually helps our case.”

Deputies: Woman stole lotto tickets after robbers shot clerk

WARNER ROBINS, Ga, (AP) – Sheriff’s deputies in middle Georgia have arrested a woman they say stole lottery tickets after others shot and mortally wounded a clerk.

Houston County Sheriff’s Capt. Jon Holland said Friday that deputies arrested 43-year-old Lakiesha Deshawn McGhee, of Bonaire, on Monday after finding evidence that McGhee stole lottery tickets from the same office at the Warner Robins business where clerk Sabrina Renee Dollar lay dying. Holland said deputies also believe McGhee briefly disconnected power from the building’s security system before emergency workers arrived.

McGhee is charged with theft by taking and tampering with evidence and remains jailed in Houston County without bail set. It’s unclear if she has a lawyer to speak on her behalf.

Sheriff: 47 inmates positive for COVID-19 in Georgia jail

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) – A Georgia county that shares a border with Alabama confirms nearly 50 of its inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office released information Friday showing 47 positive cases among inmates. It also said more than 420 inmates are currently in quarantine, WRBL-TV reported. The jail currently has more than 900 inmates, the sheriff’s office said. In addition, officials said eight employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Countryman said his office is doing “all that is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone within the Muscogee County Jail.”


Trial to resume for cops accused of violating Floyd’s rights

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Evidence about Minneapolis Police Department policies and training is expected to be the focus as testimony resumes for a second week in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

Federal prosecutors say former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao didn’t follow their training when they failed to act to save Floyd’s life on May 25, 2020, as fellow officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the Black man’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed, face down and gasping for air. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders back.

Inspector Katie Blackwell, the police department’s former head of training, began her testimony last week, saying that officers are instructed that they have a duty to intervene if a fellow officer is using unreasonable force.. They also must render any necessary medical aid until medical personnel arrive “to make sure that we do everything we can to save a person’s life.”

Judge to hear suit over Confederate memorial in Tuskegee

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) – A Macon County judge is scheduled to consider arguments this week in a legal fight over a Confederate monument that has stood for 116 years in mostly black Tuskegee.

Circuit Judge Steven Perryman has set a hearing for Thursday in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Macon County and some residents against the local and state chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which erected scores of rebel monuments across the South in the early 1900s.

The lawsuit, filed by civil rights attorney Fred Gray, argues that Macon County wrongfully gave a square to the Confederate group for the statue and a segregated, whites-only park in 1906. A decision in favor of the county could lead to removal of the monument, which features a statue of a Confederate soldier and has been the subject of on-and-off protests for decades.

But the United Daughters of the Confederacy contends it owns the 2-acre (0.81-hectare) square legally, and the land is open to everyone. 

Groups to challenge partisan fairness of Michigan House map

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Several groups announced last Friday they will sue to challenge Michigan’s new state House map, alleging it is biased toward Republicans and should be redrawn to be fairer to Democrats on a partisan basis.

The lawsuit, to be filed in the Michigan Supreme Court early this week, will be the third seeking to block congressional or legislative plans created by a new independent citizens redistricting commission.

“The whole point of passing Proposal 2 was to get rid of gerrymandering and to ensure fair maps,” said Susan Smith, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “Partisan fairness must be our top priority and must be as close to zero as possible because these maps will influence our elections for the next 10 years.”

Alabama’s new congressional districts map blocked by judges

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Federal judges on Monday blocked Alabama from using newly drawn congressional districts in upcoming elections, ruling that the state should have two districts – instead of one – in which Black voters are a sizeable portion of the electorate.

“Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the three-judge panel wrote in the 225-page ruling that found plaintiffs are “substantially likely” to prevail on claims that the current districts violate the Voting Rights Act.