September 1 Local Update

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Advances on school system paychecks common practice?

More questions continue to loom of whether or not Richmond County School Board members knew about advance payroll to employees in their school district.

One former board member of 18 years, Y.N. Myers, says he's behind superintendent Dr. Charles Larke.

He says he was there when board members, behind closed doors, gave Dr. Charles Larke the authority to give payroll advances to employees.

All this controversy comes after board members say they learned from the school board's attorney that roughly $600,000 may have been illegally given to employees in advances.

But current board members say they had no idea.

"We shouldn't be in the business of making loans. That's what it amounts to," said board member Ken Echols. "And that's what we're doing. And there's no policy I know of that we do that."

"If the attorney tells you he knows nothing about it, that's a lie," Myers told News 12 by phone. "He's suffering from selective amnesia because he was there when it was done, and if there was something wrong, why didn't he tell us?"

The school board attorney will present these allegations to the board next week.

News 12 asked to speak to the district controller about the policy yesterday, but we were not allowed.

Conflict of interest in Copenhaver campaign?

There's more campaign controversy in Augusta, this time with the mayor's campaign.

A local group calling themselves Taxpayers for Economic Justice is asking for a member of the Richmond County's Board of Elections to step down.

Six members showed up yesterday to head a petition. They say it's unethical for Tim Moses to serve as vice chairman of the board while working on Mayor Deke Copenhaver's campaign.

Moses was Copenhaver's campaign manager last year, but says this year he is in a much smaller role.

The group claims its still a conflict of interest since his job includes tabulating votes and certifying results.

Georgia law requires elections board members to take an oath promising be impartial, but it doesn't say anything about publicly supporting a candidate or working on a campaign.

Israeli consulate employee jailed in Columbia County

An Israeli consulate employee living and working in Atlanta is behind bars in Columbia County.

37-year old Yosef Ofri was arrested yesterday morning. He works as a security officer with Atlanta's Israeli consulate-general.

Ofri's charged with sending sexually explicit photographs to a local undercover officer online.

He was taken into custody without incident and transported to Columbia County.

Officials say Ofri's home was also searched.

He's expected to appear before a judge within the next 72 hours.

Georgia's Medicaid overhaul goes into effect today

Hundreds of thousands of Medicaid patients at MCG will receive calls starting today canceling their appointments at the hospital.

This comes after MCG failed to reach a contract negotiations with two managed care companies.

Low-income patients will be pushed into HMO's.

State officials issued a reform in June for 55 counties in central Georgia.

MCG stands to lose another 2 to 3 million dollars a year without the contract, but say they have to look out for the best interest of all their patients.

It's also believed that Doctor's Hospital has signed a contract with only one of the managed care companies so far.

DA asks for gag order in Lottie Kain case

The DA will go before a judge today in the Lottie Kain case.

Last year, Lottie Kain was accused of two counts of felony cruelty to children after her two small children drowned in a nearby pond.

The Warren County district attorney, Dennis Sanders, asked the superior court judge for a gag order in the case.

Sanders says it's the first time in 30 years he's had to request one.


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