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Congressman Weiner Resigns

Congressman Anthony Weiner has resigned.  He announced his resignation from Congress on Thursday.

"I'm here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused," he said reading from a brief statement in Brooklyn.

"I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma."

Weiner's wife was not present at the news conference.  

The New York lawmaker had taken a two-week leave from the House after lewd photos he took of himself and sent to women online surfaced.  He then adamantly lied about it after being caught.He has told friends he wanted to speak with his pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, before deciding whether to resign. She returned to Washington early Wednesday from a trip to Africa with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "He wanted to have a face-to-face conversation," said CNN's Dana Bash.  "One source had told me that he wants to look her in the eye and talk to her about this."

The first day he admitted in a press conference to lying about having tweeted a crotch shot to a Seattle woman, Weiner said his wife wanted him to stay in office.  But pressure for him to step down has mounted as the six women he acknowledged sexting over the past three years either stepped or were pushed into the spotlight, and more of his baudy pictures circulated on the World Wide Web.

 "That conversation with his wife was something that everybody was kind of holding their breath waiting for him to have, and giving him a little space to make his final decision," says Bash.

UK Blocks UPS From Some Shipping Facilities

UPS is responding to the UK banning the company's planes from some air cargo facilities. 

The British government made the decision after having conducted security tests.  The Department for Transport gave no details on the security issues and didn't identify the locations involved.

Atlanta-based UPS said the restrictions were the result of a scheduled government security review, rather than any specific threat.  Some facilities were temporarily taken offline.  UPS spokeswoman Laurie Mallis says the British action could lead to delays in package deliveries.

"We've activated our contingency plans," Mallis tells WSB.  "Customers are aware.  Service levels will return to normal levels early next week.

Mallis says the company is working to address the Brits' concerns, but won't talk about security specifics.

"We really cannot reveal any specific details about our security procedures as this would be counter-productive to their effectiveness," she said.

No other air freight companies were mentioned in the U.K. government statement.

Last October, two bombs were sent disguised in toner cartridges on cargo flights from Yemen bound for the United States. One was discovered at a FedEx cargo facility in Dubai, the other at the UPS depot at East Midlands Airport, 100 miles  north of London.  Officials said the bombs were viable and could have exploded in mid-flight. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was blamed for the plot, which was foiled by a tip-off from Saudi intelligence.

In March, someone shipped a hoax bomb which had a timer, wires and a detonator to Turkey via the UPS office in London.

Accused Church Thief Surrenders

A Marietta woman may be praying for forgiveness after her arrest for stealing in church.

Woodstock Police say 37-year-old Melissa Rodriquez surrendered Friday on charges including fraud and theft by taking.

Police say on May 23, a woman filed a report saying that her wallet had been stolen.  The last time she had seen it was when she was at church.  When the victim called her bank to tell them to cancel a credit card, she was informed that it had already been used once at a Woodstock Target.

Investigators checked surveillance video and saw Rodriquez using the card at the store to ring up a $76.40 purchase. 

She turned herself in to police after arrest warrants in her name were issued.

Jaywalking Mom Chooses New Trial in Hit and Run Case

A Cobb County woman who faced sentencing for the jaywalking death of her 4-year-old son is getting a new trial.

Raquel Nelson, 30, was convicted of 2nd-degree vehicular homicide in an October 2010 hit-and-run accident in which she and two of her three children were hit while crossing Austell Road.  The family had just stepped off a CCt bus, and the nearest crosswalk on the four-lane road was three-tenths of a mile away.

After her conviction, Nelson learned that she could get up to three years in the case.  At her sentencing Tuesday morning, the judge gave her 12 months' probation and community service--and then made the unusual move of offering her the chance to have a new trial.

An acquittal in the case would clear Nelson's record.

The hit-and-run driver, Jerry Guy, served six months behind bars and will serve the balance of his five-year sentence on probation.  An acquaintance tipped off authorities after Guy fled the scene, and he eventually surrendered.  Guy was convicted of similar charges in 1997.  Nelson and her younger daughter suffered minor injuries; the older daughter was unhurt.   Her attorney says her son, A. J., darted away and was hit by a van.

Nelson told the Today show that giving her the maximum sentence would take her away from the two children she has left.

"To come after me so much harder than they did him--it's a slap in the face," Nelson said.  "This will never end for me." 

'Take-Out' Robbers Target Waffle Houses

Police are hunting a pair of serial Waffle House robbers who have hit nearly a dozen restaurants across metro Atlanta.

Sgt. Bill Grogan with Norcross Police tells WSB the men have robbed at least 10 Waffle Houses over the past two weeks, from south of the city to Gwinnett County.   All of the robberies have the same MO.

"Two o'clock, 2:30 in the morning until 5:00, during the slowest times, they'll basically place a to-go order, maybe show a couple dollars or something like that to make payment.  The cash register is opened, the gun comes out, and the employees are told to go away," says Grogan.

He says it's "obvious" the same two armed robbers are behind all the crimes; their disguises are consistent--hat pulled down, sunglasses on.  Some clear surveillance photos were pulled from cameras at the Waffle House located at 5122 Brookhollow Pkwy, Norcross, last month.

What hasn't been caught on video is the susptects' getaway car.  Grogan says it appears that they always park just out of camera range and out of the view of the public.  Police also suspect the men may be using borrowed vehicles because the vehicle sightings that are reported to them vary in make and model.

"If somebody sees two people or one person walking away from a Waffle House and getting into a car parked somewhere away from the Waffle House, that's a clue," says Grogan.

Tipsters are asked to call the Norcross PD tip line at (770) 448-6457. 

Student Pulls Loaded Gun On Campus

A middle school student is in custody after pulling a loaded gun on his classmates.

It happened at Salem Middle School in DeKalb County Thursday morning.  Officials say students were going from their lockers to classrooms, when two students reported to administrators a student had brought a gun inside the building.

Authorities say it was shown in a bathroom and it was pointed at another student.  At this time, it isn't clear if it was pointed intended to shoot or pointed intended to show it off.

WSB's Jon Lewis reports the student was located about 20 minutes later.  The gun was found hidden in the cafeteria.

DeKalb County Schools spokesman Rodney Jenkins tells WSB no one was hurt.

School officials will be sending a note home to parents detailing the incident at Salem Middle, located at 5333 Salem Road in Lithonia.

The school was not placed on lockdown, said Jenkins, because school security handled the situation quickly.

Forsyth Mom, Artist Wins GA Plate Design

Congratulations, Nancy Sosebee. 

The Forsyth, Georgia woman is the winner of the design contest for the state's new general issue license plate.  Her design garnered the most online votes--34,154--in the three-week competition.

"All of the semifinalists submitted great designs that would reflect well on our state, but the winning plate was the clear favorite among voters," said Gov. Nathan Deal.  He, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Department of Revenue Commissioner Doug MacGinnitie unveiled the winner today at the State Capitol. 

The second-place choice of online voters received 15,380.

Sosebee, an artist by trade, actually submitted the runner-up design, too.

"I really tried to represent Georgia the best I could, and I'm glad that they saw it," said Sosebee. 

The winning plate design includes Sosebee's depiction of what she calls a beautiful state: a rural feel, with a peach tree, and a cultivated field.

The new plate is scheduled to begin production in the fall.  It will be flat--no raised numbers or letters--and the governor's office says the digital design will save money, aid identification by police, and give drivers the option of having their plates delivered instead of having to pick them up at a county office.  Taxpayers also have the option of selecting a plain tag. 

The Department of Revenue received more than 500 design submissions at the outset of the contest. 

Sosebee has created many large-scale murals for the Department of Corrections, the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, several hospitals and private practices and has also designed logos for businesses and corporations. She and her husband, Hugh Jr., have one son, Hugh III.The license plate competition was done twice this summer.  The first vote was thrown out over some confusion over whether the phrase "In God We Trust" was an inherent part of the design, so the voting was relaunched without the phrase on any of the designs.  Sosebee's design was the winner both times. 

The "In God We Trust" phrase is available for any Georgia license plate; it is a sticker that costs $1.00.

Ex-Cop Gets 15 Years For Statutory Rape

An ex-DeKalb County policeman has been sentenced to serve 15 years in prison after his guilty plea on multiple charges involving sex with underaged girls.

Thirty-year-old Quevius Thornton must also serve 10 years on probation and register as a sex offender upon his release.  He pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation, five counts of statutory rape, four counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes, contributing to delinquency of a minor, simple battery and possession of marijuana. 

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James says his prayers go out to the victims and their families.  He said Thornton betrayed the trust of his community.

"Quevius Thornton exploited his position and preyed upon two innocent victims in 2010," said James. "His actions were simply inexcusable and deplorable."

An indictment in July alleged that Thornton had sex--both intercourse and oral--with two different 15-year-old girls several times from October to December of 2010, sometimes in his car in the parking lot of Dunaire Elementary School on South Indian Creek Drive.  Other sexual encounters took place at a park, at Thornton's home, and at a different DeKalb elementary school.  The victims say he offered them marijuana he had confiscated from suspects during the encounters.

According to the document, he also slapped one girl during one of their meetings. 

Judge Cynthia Becker also spoke about the betrayal of trust during Monday's sentencing, where a prosecutor pointed out that the family of one of the girls had always considered Thornton a mentor before this happened to her.

"I'm not in a position to forgive you," Becker said. "I'm appalled."Thornton joined the DeKalb Police Department in 2008.  He apologized in court and said he takes full responsibility for his actions. 

"The person who stands before you is not a bad guy," Thornton said. "I'm a good person who made a bad mistake...I was a responsible adult and should have used better judgment."

Used Car Scam Growing

More of us are buying cars online, because they are often cheaper that way.  But it's a lot costlier if you end up on a fake website.

WSB's Bob Coxe reports Kelley Blue Book, the popular car valuation company, is warning consumers about a scam that uses a counterfeit version of its website.

The car seller, who doesn't really have a car to sell, directs you to the scam site, where you're offered a supposed "buyer protection plan" in case the car isn't delivered. You're asked to wire your payment to a third party and fax the seller your proof of payment.

"Recently, criminals have added sophisticated technology to their scam by adding 800 numbers and offering live chat with potential buyers in an effort to ease their concerns about online car buying and detailed information on the fraudulent buyer protection programs," said Shayne Brown, associate general counsel, Kelley Blue Book. The real Kelley Blue Book says they have nothing to do with any online escrow service, and they're trying to remove the phony sites from the Internet.

"In the meantime, car shoppers should know that any type of online consumer escrow service backed by our company is a scam," said Brown.

The FBI claims that every 90 minutes a complaint is filed and an auto shopper loses $1,000 every hour due to fraudulent websites and phony vehicle listings.

SACS team visiting APS

The Atlanta Public Schools district was placed on probation six months ago by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  WSB's Jon Lewis reports now, a team from the accrediting agency is meeting with members of the school board.

SACS is trying to find out what is being done "when it comes to the accreditation issues that SACS had laid out for the board--the six required items that they were required to do back more than six months ago," says APS spokesman Keith Bromery.

The interviews will take place today and Tuesday.  They will also meet with school administrators.

The SACS team is made up of principals and school superintendents.  The mid-year review is to evaluate how far the district has advanced in meeting the requirements for full accreditation and to confirm that the reports that the system has been sending to SACS are accurate.

Meanwhile, the system has begun turning over computer hard drives to Fulton County prosecutors looking into the CRCT cheating scandal. 

Conviction for Colotl?

The Kennesaw State University coed whose traffic ticket arrest led to a change in the way Georgia colleges admit students may face criminal conviction after all.

A Cobb County judge has ordered the case of illegal immigrant KSU grad Jessica Colotl back to square one. 

Colotl's 2010 arrest nearly got her deported. She was accused of lying to officers about her address when she was arrested for impeding the flow of traffic on the KSU campus, and also charged with driving without a license.  Federal authorities allowed her more time in the country to complete her political science degree. 

Months later, the state Board of Regents barred illegal immigrants from five select universities, including University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology.  At the colleges where they are allowed to attend, they must pay out-of-state tuition.

The Cobb County district attorney had agreed to allow Colotl into a pre-trial diversion program.  Participating would allow Colotl, a 23-year-old Mexico native, to avoid a criminal conviction for felony false swearing for allegedly lying to deputies about her address.

Now, Judge Mary Staley wants the DA and the sheriff to reconsider the acceptance into the program.  Sheriff Neal Warren is against allowing Colotl into it. 

"I don't think she deserves it," says Warren.  "I think it would send a bad message to the citizens.  Not only to the citizens of the United States, but anyone." 

Staley told reporters at the beginning of the hearing Friday that it was not her decision to put Colotl into the diversion program, and that once she read that Warren was against the idea, she thought he and District Attorney Pat Head should negotiate the case's resolution.

Colotl's attorney was displeased.

"Your Honor is essentially calling a press conference to disavow responsibility for this," said Jerome Lee. 

The Intruder Wore Camouflage

A Canton homeowner uses deadly force defending himself from an early morning intruder. 

WSB's Richard Sangster reports a woman wearing all-camouflage and a mask sneaked into his home on Bethany Manor Way. 

Authorities late Friday identified 54-year old Fred Stanley Whitmore as the homeowner, and 53-year old Barbara Smith of Canton as the intruder.

"She parked approximately a mile away, walked here, waited for the wife to go to work," says Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison.

The two struggled, and the woman was shot in the head with the gun she was carrying.  The call came in to deputies shortly before 7:00 a.m. Friday.

Garrison says the man and woman had worked together in the health care profession. 

Garrison says the shooting appears to be self-defense, pointing out that the masked, camouflaged woman would have been "virtually impossible" to recognize.  "It's an understatement to say that it's just a bizarre incident," said Garrison.

GBI Seeks MARTA Shooting Witness

With conflicting sides to the story of this month's fatal shooting of a man outside a MARTA station, the GBI is seeking a witness to help sort it out.

Nineteen-year-old Joetavious Stafford was shot to death by MARTA police officer Robert Waldo outside the Vine City train station the night of October 15.  Stafford's brother Rodney contends the 31-year-old officer shot an unarmed Joetavious, then twice more while he was on the ground.MARTA says that witnesses have told investigators that Stafford was, in fact, armed.  There had been a fight near the station, to which Waldo had responded.

An autopsy confirmed that the 19-year-old was shot in the chest and back, but was inconclusive on the point of whether he was shot while lying on the ground. 

Now, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is seeking the public's help in identifying a man who may be an eyewitness to the gunfire.  They've reviewed MARTA surveillance video and pulled still shots from the footage to help find him.

He is wearing a white baseball cap with a blue "Polo" logo and a blue "Polo" jacket with white stripes on the sleeves.

GBI agents have already located one eyewitness by reviewing video from MARTA security cameras.

Anyone with information on the identity of this man is asked to call the GBI Tip Line at 1 (800) 597-8477.  All calls will be kept confidential.

Hero Hauls Man Off Train Tracks

A good Samaritan will be honored Thursday night for his bravery and self-sacrifice after saving someone from being hit by a train.

Norb Krzak was on his way to build a fence early Saturday when he saw a car go down an embankment on Highway 72, near the railroad tracks.  He called 911 and pulled over to check on the driver.

Krzak witnessed a mangled car and two people who had been ejected from the vehicle, he said--one covered in blood, one sitting upright on the train tracks.  And he heard a train coming.

The chilling 911 recording reveals the oncoming train's loud whistle, and Krzak's loud screams as he tells the dispatcher that there's a train coming, and repeatedly warns the man to get up.

"Get off the tracks, dude!  Get off the tracks!" Krzak yells, as the injured man moans something in the background.  "I know you're hurt!"

"Can you pull him?" asks the dispatcher.  "Just pull him."

"Ah!" Krzak grunts.  "He got off the tracks.  I got him off."

About a minute later, he says, the train slammed into the back end of the car that was still partially on the tracks. 

Both injured men continue recuperating and are out of intensive care.  The Madison County Commission will honor his heroism at their 6:30 meeting this evening.

Cobb Cops Hunt Holdup Woman

Cobb County Police search for a gun-toting woman who held up a Chinese restaurant in Austell.

Wednesday, the woman walked into the Panda Garden at 3753 Austell Road and sat down, as if she was ready to place an order.  But this customer had much more than shrimp fried rice in mind.

"The business owner approached the female as if she was a regular customer, to get ready to take her order," says Sgt. Mike Bowman.  "Then all of a sudden, the suspect just pulled out a handgun and demanded that she be given money from the cash register."

The suspect took off with cash, and is described as black, about 5'8"-5'10" tall, with a medium complexion and a large build, wearing a hoodie.  She may have gotten away in a light-colored Toyota Corolla.

Tipsters are asked to call Cobb Police at (770) 499-3945.

BofA is latest to withdraw debit card fee

 

The about-face of big banks who announced they were slapping customers with debit card fees or conducting tests of the fees has continued, as Bank of America today says it is killing the $5 monthly fee it was levying for debit card users.

 

No immediate numbers are available on how many customers may have left Bank of America and the other banks which instituted the fees, but many were outraged at the idea of having to pay fees to access their own money.

 

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer, said in a statement from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender today. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

 

 

 

Chase and Wells Fargo said last week that they were canceling tests of similar fees. Saying they were responding to feedback from customers, SunTrust and Regions revealed this week that they were backpedaling on the fees, too.

 

 

 

The about-face by the banking industry comes amid growing public anger over higher fees. A movement to get customers to switch to credit unions and community banks had marked this Saturday as "Bank Transfer Day."

Beware the iPad "bargain"

Watch out for that iPad "bargain." Fake iPads are popping up from Georgia to Florida to Texas. WSB's Richard Sangster reports police are tracking as many as 50 people selling the fakes.Detective Robert Bentivegna with the Dunwoody Police Department says he has at least 30 cases of people being duped into buying the phony iPads. In one victim's case, a "gentleman approached her at an Exxon gas station right here in the city of Dunwoody" and offered to sell an iPad at a low price. It is common, say police tracking the criminals, for the sellers to approach someone in parking lot or gas station. Often, the crook will show a potential victim a real iPad to "prove" there is real merchandise for sale. When the customer is convinced to buy, the scammer has pulled out a FedEx box which appears to contain an iPad with a Best Buy receipt on it. In reality, it is nothing more than a black duct tape-wrapped Plexiglas frame with an Apple sticker on the back. The one pictured was sold to a victim in north Texas. Police say the scammers have been using rental cars from Mississippi to run the con in several states. Often, women are renting the cars and selling the iPads for men involved. In Augusta, a woman was scammed out of $500 by a man who offered to sell her an iPad 2 and a tablet computer in the parking lot of the Augusta Mall. By the time Portia Tanksley opened the hefty box, the seller was gone and she was left with a three-ring binder and a large tile.

Angry bank customers consider Transfer Day

Are you tired of your bank? Fed up with fees and mandatory minimums? WSB's Pete Combs reports if so, you're not alone.

Spurred by a Los Angeles gallery owner, the so-called "Bank Transfer Day" is scheduled for Saturday, November 5--although 27-year-old Kristen Christian says the November 5 deadline has been misunderstood. Since many credit unions are not open on weekends, the goal of having customers leave their big banks and put their money in a credit union was to be completed by the weekend--not on it. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, owned by their members. They are prohibited from accumulating debt or selling stocks. Customers of megabanks have had enough. Only 44% of those questioned in the Harris Survey say they're happy with huge banking institutions like Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. That's music to the ears of Mike Mercer, head of the Georgia Credit Union Associates. "The anti-Wall Street sentiments are quite strong," Mercer tells WSB. "It's really been a surprising phenomenon."

In just one month, 650,000 big bank customers have switched to credit unions, taking more than $10 billion dollars in assets with them. "People are just getting tired of insensitive service," says Mercer.

Already, that's having an effect on the banks. The swift, massive backlash prompted many to pull back from plans to charge new fees for checking accounts and debit card use. In Georgia, Associated and Delta Community are two credit unions which have branches open on Saturdays.

 

 

Cops Seek Culprit Who Pointed Beam At Pilots

Who zapped a Delta flight with a laser beam as it was approaching the Atlanta airport? WSB'S Bob Coxe reports the FAA would like to find out.

Delta Flight 1199 from St. Louis was on final approach to Hartsfield-Jackson around 7:20 Saturday evening, when a beam of bright green light suddenly hit the cockpit.

"The laser struck the aircraft from the left side," says the FAA's Kathleen Bergen.

Bergen says there were no injuries. Floyd County police searched an area near Shannon, northeast of Rome, without success. Anyone caught doing this can be fined up to $11,000.

"Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft is no joke," says Bergen. "These lasers can temporarily blind a pilot and make it impossible to safely land an aircraft."

Nurse Groper Being Sentenced

The nurse convicted of sexually assaulting 19 females who were under anesthesia he gave them will learn his sentence today.

Paul Serdula, 48, was found guilty in April by a Cobb County judge of molesting 17 women as well as two girls under 16 who were undergoing procedures at a local hospital, surgery center, and dental office. A Cobb County Police spokesman said that Serdula had videotaped himself fondling and groping the sedated patients. In his home, hundreds of the tapes were seized.

Now, as he faces 25 years in prison and several possible life sentences, Serdula is listening to victim after victim describe how the assaults impacted their lives.

"I was horrified. I mean, how do you explain what that feels like?" testified one woman, her voice filled with tears. "That's your worst nightmare as a female, to be sexually assaulted."

One man says his wife is in a constant state of anxiety since the discovery of her sexual assault.

Serdula admitted to the facts of the case, but did not plead guilty in case he decides to appeal. He was convicted on 34 charges, including sexual assault of a person in custody, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, and unlawful surveillance.

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