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breaking news

Obamas leave Washington to begin life as private family

Investigations


Ominous message meant to silence Atlanta bribery suspect

A construction contractor with deep connections in the Atlanta government has been accused of paying more than $1 million in bribes to win city contracts. After his expected guilty plea, he could become federal prosecutors’ star witness in a corruption case now gripping City Hall, legal experts say. But 16 months ago, somebody wanted him to keep quiet, because he was already talking to the feds...
Strippers’ lawsuits challenging the industry

Strippers’ lawsuits challenging the industry

This week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News published an explosive story about alleged sexual assaults inside midtown strip club The Cheetah, but the lawsuits filed by dancers against the club are part of a larger trend.
Watchdog: Georgia’s fees on electric cars highest in nation

Watchdog: Georgia’s fees on electric cars highest in nation

Electric vehicle purchases in Georgia have plummeted since the General Assembly revoked a $5,000 income tax credit in 2015 for buying one. Along with revoking the tax credit, lawmakers also slapped a $200 registration fee on the cars to make up for gas tax owners of those vehicles don’t pay. The result has been a 90 percent drop from pre-2015 levels, which some lawmakers...
Price would oversee doctor tracking system he sought to limit

Price would oversee doctor tracking system he sought to limit

You may have never heard of the National Practitioner Data Bank, but there’s a good chance your doctor has. It’s the only national database that tracks professionally disciplined doctors across the country, ensuring that they can’t hop from state-to-state to escape their troubled pasts. That unique role has also put the data bank in the crosshairs of physician advocacy groups...
Canada’s efforts to rein in predatory doctors offer lesson for U.S.

Canada’s efforts to rein in predatory doctors offer lesson for U.S.

Canada’s most populous province has long recognized the gravity of sexual misconduct by physicians. Two decades ago, Ontario passed laws mandating punishment for predatory doctors. But the reforms needed reforming, officials eventually decided. And that led to a long, tortured process that hasn’t left anyone completely satisfied. The complications experienced in Canada may serve as an...
Here’s why electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

Here’s why electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com. Here’s a fact maybe not generally appreciated by commuters gazing at Atlanta’s smudgy, smoggy skyline: Georgia has the second most electric vehicles in the nation. Here’s another fact...
Sex acts by doctors should mean loss of license, Canada task force says

Sex acts by doctors should mean loss of license, Canada task force says

Unlike much of the United States, Canada’s most populous province has long recognized the gravity of sexual misconduct by physicians.

Is Georgia a haven for abusive debt collectors?

Getting threatened with arrest. Being called a dirt bag. Having your neighbor tell you that debt collectors want you to pay up. Such debt collection tactics are banned under federal law. In spite of the bans, various Georgia firms have been accused of employing such methods. And a new report shows that Georgians being harassed about debts are filing a record number of complaints with the Consumer...
Mississippi lawmaker seeks crackdown on sexually abusive doctors

Mississippi lawmaker seeks crackdown on sexually abusive doctors

A veteran Mississippi lawmaker wants doctors who sexually abuse patients to face serious new criminal penalties and mandatory license revocations.
Watchdog: Georgia elections among least competitive in nation

Watchdog: Georgia elections among least competitive in nation

Georgia is one of the least politically competitive states in the nation and money is a big part of it, according to the Institute on Money in State Politics. “Georgia is always at the bottom,” said Pete Quist, chief researcher for the Montana-based institute, which produces regular reports ranking competitiveness among states. According to their data, 81 percent of incumbents for...
Ga. lawmakers return with pockets full of PAC cash

Ga. lawmakers return with pockets full of PAC cash

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com. The Georgia General Assembly convenes next week with virtually the same cast of characters who left the Gold Dome last March. In November all but four incumbents won their race to retain their seat...
Georgia bank socking customers with overdraft fees, consumer group says

Georgia bank socking customers with overdraft fees, consumer group says

A Georgia bank was the toughest in the nation when it comes to socking customers with overdraft fees, according to a analysis by a consumer group. Ameris Bank collected the most overdraft/insufficient fund fees per account of any U.S. bank, says the analysis, which is based on federal government data from the first three quarters of 2016. Ameris collected an average of about $176 per account, the...
Immigrant moms say Chamblee pediatrician’s abuses didn’t stop with them

Immigrant moms say Chamblee pediatrician’s abuses didn’t stop with them

Their children’s pediatrician, Dr. José A. Rios, had them living in fear, the women told police.
Alpharetta biotech CEO’s wife and brother-in-law accused of insider trading

Alpharetta biotech CEO’s wife and brother-in-law accused of insider trading

The CEO of an Alpharetta biopharmaceutical company might need to start watching what he says around relatives.
Some moms accusing doctor of groping say he violated kids, too

Some moms accusing doctor of groping say he violated kids, too

Multimeida Journalist Erica Hernandez contributed to this article. Speaking little English and lacking immigration papers, they were the perfect prey. But when they found out they weren’t alone, one by one the women told police their stories of being sexually degraded by, of all people, their children’s pediatrician. They spoke to Chamblee detectives through translators, accusing Dr. José...
Georgia students learn sobering lesson on government transparency

Georgia students learn sobering lesson on government transparency

Filing requests for public records is one of the first things students at the Georgia News Lab learn.
Immigrant moms say Chamblee pediatrician’s abuses didn’t stop with them

Immigrant moms say Chamblee pediatrician’s abuses didn’t stop with them

Their children’s pediatrician, Dr. José A. Rios, had them living in fear, the women told police.
AJC/WSB fraud investigation gets results in case of Hapeville tax preparer

AJC/WSB fraud investigation gets results in case of Hapeville tax preparer

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation is delivering results for Georgia taxpayers.
Former lawmakers find new careers as lobbyists

Former lawmakers find new careers as lobbyists

Georgia has a law requiring public officials to wait a year after leaving office before registering as lobbyists, but that doesn’t stop high-level lawmakers from landing plumb jobs in lobbying firms right away . “I support the idea of a one-year cooling off that limits former legislators access to the executive branch and former colleagues,” said former...
Lawmakers jump to lobbying firms despite year-long ban on advocacy

Lawmakers jump to lobbying firms despite year-long ban on advocacy

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com. Heeding calls to “drain the swamp,” President-elect Donald Trump is requiring appointees to his administration to agree to a five-year ban on lobbying, a nod to the public’s distrust...
UPDATE: Truck and bus drivers face tight deadline to keep licenses

UPDATE: Truck and bus drivers face tight deadline to keep licenses

LATEST NEWS: Drivers certified for commercial licenses by an Atlanta chiropractor will have their licenses revoked unless they quickly retake medical exams, a federal agency is warning. Chiropractor Anthony Lefteris is facing criminal charges that he faked medical exams for drivers to help them gain the licenses. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says it will revoke the licenses of the...
Georgia fraud scheme may have certified dangerous drivers, feds say

Georgia fraud scheme may have certified dangerous drivers, feds say

A fraud scheme operated out of Atlanta may have certified drivers with dangerous health conditions to drive tractor trailers, buses and other large commercial vehicles, officials say. To get commercial driver licenses, drivers are supposed to pass medical fitness tests to determine if they have lung diseases so severe or blood pressure so high that they may not be able to control the vehicles and...

Atlanta fraud scheme may have certified dangerous drivers, feds say

A fraud scheme operated out of Atlanta may have certified drivers with dangerous health conditions to drive tractor trailers, buses and other large commercial vehicles, officials say. State and federal officials hope to find those drivers and re-examine their fitness to be behind the wheel. To get commercial driver licenses, drivers are supposed to pass medical fitness tests to determine if they have...
Sex, drugs and the DEA, continued: ‘Potential criminal charges’ cited

Sex, drugs and the DEA, continued: ‘Potential criminal charges’ cited

  Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Sex, drugs and the DEA, continued: ‘Potential criminal charges’ cited

Sex, drugs and the DEA, continued: ‘Potential criminal charges’ cited

  Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Case involving ‘serial pervert’ being heard by Georgia Supreme Court today

Case involving ‘serial pervert’ being heard by Georgia Supreme Court today

While an 18-year-old was sedated at her dentist’s office, she was left alone with a nurse anesthetist long enough for him to sexually assault her.
Case involving ‘serial pervert’ being heard by Georgia Supreme Court today

Case involving ‘serial pervert’ being heard by Georgia Supreme Court today

While an 18-year-old was sedated at her dentist’s office, she was left alone with a nurse anesthetist long enough for him to sexually assault her.
U.S., Georgia fail to resolve GNETS case out of court

U.S., Georgia fail to resolve GNETS case out of court

  David, 7, was assigned to a ‘psychoeducational’ alternative school for behavioral issues before his mother enrolled him in an online charter school.
You may be surprised where sex offenders can – and cannot – work

You may be surprised where sex offenders can – and cannot – work

Registered sex offenders are barred from working as teachers or daycare providers in many states. Other job restrictions may surprise you: Registered sex offenders can’t drive ice cream trucks in Massachusetts.
Concern grows over unregistered lobbyists

Concern grows over unregistered lobbyists

Watchdogs at the State Capitol are concerned that a growing number of people who lobby for or against legislation are avoiding registering with the state and disclosing their activities. “There is nothing wrong with lobbying,” Stefan Ritter, state ethics commission executive director, said. “But the public should be able to look at who is lobbying.” State law is clear: Anyone...
Weak law keeps some Georgia lobbyists hidden

Weak law keeps some Georgia lobbyists hidden

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com. State law requires lobbyists to register and report their spending on public officials, but many believe there is a hidden army of lawyers, business executives, issue advocates, and state government...
Sex, drugs and the DEA: Atlanta agent accused of improper conduct

Sex, drugs and the DEA: Atlanta agent accused of improper conduct

  In 2013, Drug Enforcement Administration agents participated in a raid on a synthetic drug lab in Avondale Estates.
Sex, drugs and the DEA: Atlanta agent accused of improper conduct

Sex, drugs and the DEA: Atlanta agent accused of improper conduct

  In 2013, Drug Enforcement Administration agents participated in a raid on a synthetic drug lab in Avondale Estates.
Bus crash details eerily similar but these children lived

Bus crash details eerily similar but these children lived

A 24-year-old school bus driver is transporting students home after school. The weather is clear, the roadway dry. But the bus is speeding, and it veers off the road. As it careens out of control, it hits a tree that slices open the bus. But this accident was in California, not Chattanooga. And the school bus in this crash was equipped with lap/shoulder belts for all the passengers, as required by...
Raise hunting, fishing license fees, state audit says

Raise hunting, fishing license fees, state audit says

Hunters and anglers pay too little for licenses in Georgia, and the free licenses given to residents 65 and older are costing the state millions of dollars a year in federal grants and other revenue. Those are two findings from a new state audit that gives a drubbing to the Wildlife Resources Division of the state Department of Natural Resources. What’s wrong with the division? Here are 5 findings...
Raise hunting, fishing license fees, state audit says

Raise hunting, fishing license fees, state audit says

Hunters and anglers pay too little for licenses in Georgia, and the free licenses given to residents 65 and older are costing the state millions of dollars a year in federal grants and other revenue. Those are two findings from a new state audit that gives a drubbing to the Wildlife Resources Division of the state Department of Natural Resources. What’s wrong with the division? Here are 5 findings...
Exonerations reveal flaws in criminal justice system

Exonerations reveal flaws in criminal justice system

  Timothy Johnson spent 29 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. He is one of 28 Georgians listed on the National Registry of Exonerations.
Exonerations reveal flaws in criminal justice system

Exonerations reveal flaws in criminal justice system

  Timothy Johnson spent 29 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. He is one of 28 Georgians listed on the National Registry of Exonerations.
APS says it wants to help blind mother get kids to school

APS says it wants to help blind mother get kids to school

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen of the Atlanta Public Schools says she wants to help a blind mother get her children to school, so long as it doesn’t obligate the district to other parents.
Decatur mom asked to leave early voting because of crying child

Decatur mom asked to leave early voting because of crying child

A DeKalb County mother of three was asked to leave early voting Thursday when her child wouldn’t stop crying. Citing a state law giving poll workers broad discretion to determine when children are distracting other voters, officials asked Jennifer Fair to take her 2-year-old daughter outside a downtown Decatur polling place because she was crying. Fair said she had to leave without casting a...
Ga. mother unable to vote because her crying child was ‘distracting’

Ga. mother unable to vote because her crying child was ‘distracting’

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com. Jennifer Fair, a DeKalb County mother of three, has her hands full. Between 4-year-old Maggie, 2-year-old Casey and newborn Audrey, Fair has a lot to juggle, which is why she went to downtown Decatur...
Newton rejects proposal aimed at Muslim burial practices

Newton rejects proposal aimed at Muslim burial practices

The Newton County board rejected a county commissioner’s attempt to tighten regulations on burials in the county, but critics say the effort is a transparent and misguided attempt to discourage a mosque and Islamic cemetery proposed for his district. Commissioner John Douglas, a vocal opponent of a Doraville-based Muslim congregation who are seeking to build a mosque in Newton County, proposed...
Rockdale woman scammed lottery winner out of $440,000, jury says

Rockdale woman scammed lottery winner out of $440,000, jury says

Freya D. Pearson said she was a financial adviser, a homeless mother and a consultant to a Georgia probate court. She now has a new title: thief. A federal jury on Thursday convicted the Rockdale County resident of scamming a Missouri lottery winner out of $440,000, the Department of Justice announced. Her 61-year-old victim had been a housekeeper before going on disability, then winning the 2008...
New York to Georgia: Toughen up your gun laws

New York to Georgia: Toughen up your gun laws

  New York’s attorney general has a message for Georgians: keep your guns to yourselves. In a study released this week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman blamed lax gun laws in states such as Georgia for much of the violent crime that occurs in New York state. New York has some of the nation’s strictest gun-control laws: It bans so-called assault weapons; prohibits the sale of high-capacity...
Fear of the dead one of many fringe ideas fueling mosque debate

Fear of the dead one of many fringe ideas fueling mosque debate

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com. Newton County dodged another attempted debacle this week when the county planning commission discarded a request to adopt burial restrictions based on junk science and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The request...

Nursing home patients hurt, taxpayers ripped off by sales goals, lawsuits say

A nursing home chain with facilities in Georgia routinely gave patients therapy they didn’t need in a scheme that sometimes harmed them and defrauded Medicare, government lawsuits say. What’s more, to keep collecting inflated Medicare payments, Life Care Center of America facilities also sought to keep some patients in nursing homes longer than necessary, the company’s own employees...

Taxpayers paid $359 million for unnecessary chiropractic care in 2013, study finds

Medicare paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in 2013 based on improper bills from chiropractors, according to an investigation by a federal watchdog agency. More than 80 percent of payments to chiropractors should not have been made, investigators found. This isn’t the first time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been warned repeatedly that chiropractors are billing for...
Blind mother in APS dispute gets free rides for kids

Blind mother in APS dispute gets free rides for kids

Continental Colony Elementary School in southwest Atlanta. For more than two months, Daffanie Todd couldn’t send her children to school.
Sex abuse allegations: Can you believe these women?

Sex abuse allegations: Can you believe these women?

A powerful man. Women who kept silent for months, even years. If he did what they say, why’d they take so long to report? That’s not just a question raised by Trump supporters or Bill Cosby fans. At hearings around the country, that question has been raised when patients accused their doctor of sexual assault. It was the women’s words against the doctor’s. He claimed their...
30 years later, details of disabled man’s execution still ‘state secrets’

30 years later, details of disabled man’s execution still ‘state secrets’

Protestors gathered outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison as Jerome Bowden was executed in 1986. Strapped into Georgia’s electric chair, moments from meeting his fate, Jerome Bowden uttered his last words. “I would like to thank the people of this institution for taking such care of me as they did,” said Bowden, 34, convicted of a gruesome murder in Columbus...
30 years later, details of disabled man’s execution still ‘state secrets’

30 years later, details of disabled man’s execution still ‘state secrets’

Protestors gathered outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison as Jerome Bowden was executed in 1986.
APS to blind mother: Walking kids to school is your responsibility

APS to blind mother: Walking kids to school is your responsibility

Continental Colony Elementary in southwest Atlanta. Daffanie Todd, a single mother of three school-age children, lost the last of her eyesight in 2013.
APS to blind mother: Walking kids to school is your responsibility

APS to blind mother: Walking kids to school is your responsibility

Continental Colony Elementary in southwest Atlanta. Daffanie Todd, a single mother of three school-age children, lost the last of her eyesight in 2013.
Victim count grows in criminal case against a doctor who’s still practicing

Victim count grows in criminal case against a doctor who’s still practicing

More potential victims have been added to the criminal case against an Arkansas family doctor who is being allowed to keep seeing patients despite facing rape and sexual assault charges.
Tenet Healthcare to pay $513 million in kickback case

Tenet Healthcare to pay $513 million in kickback case

The Tenet Healthcare chain and two of its subsidiaries — Atlanta Medical Center Inc.
Multiple rape charges not enough to stop doctor from practicing

Multiple rape charges not enough to stop doctor from practicing

More potential victims have been added to the criminal case against an Arkansas family doctor who is being allowed to keep seeing patients despite facing rape and sexual assault charges.
Doctor told police his patients were witches, years before sex abuse alleged

Doctor told police his patients were witches, years before sex abuse alleged

The day after Andi Higbee killed herself, her psychiatrist walked into the office of a police detective handling her case, closing the door behind him.
NPR: Georgia Trump supporter considers joining militia

NPR: Georgia Trump supporter considers joining militia

For many NPR listeners, the revelation by Lawrenceville auto mechanic Jimmy Arno was a shocker. It came near the end of a 6-minute interview with “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep in a segment on voting sentiment in toss-up states called “Divided States.
What our sleuths discovered about doctors

What our sleuths discovered about doctors

Want to know if a restaurant is unsanitary? In Georgia and many other states, you can look at the inspection notice posted near the door. Want to know if your doctor may have sexually abused patients? Your only clues might be found on disciplinary orders posted on state medical board websites. But to follow the clues, you may need a law book, good Google search skills and a knowledge of some medical...

Doctor’s secret past catches up with him

Michigan doctor Donn Ketcham didn’t have to admit to any of the allegations against him when he agreed in 2012 to permanently give up his license to practice. And, as the AJC found happens far too often, the medical board didn’t see the need to explain much in the one document it made public. That agreement explained only that medical regulators found he had violated “sections 16221(a)...
From kidnapper to doctor

From kidnapper to doctor

Gary S. Krist got a half-million dollars’ ransom, federal prison time and national infamy when he kidnapped Emory University student Barbara Jane Mackle and buried her alive in a box. Then he got something else: a medical license. Nearly 50 years after the infamous crime, many still recall it, especially in Georgia. The case still pops up in news reports, including one in the New York Post this...
Atlanta businessman duped pro athletes out of millions, feds allege

Atlanta businessman duped pro athletes out of millions, feds allege

Donald V. Watkins approached millionaire athletes with an investment opportunity. Donald V. Watkins, seen here in his Facebook profile photo, is a former Birmingham civil rights attorney who shifted into the waste-to-energy business.

Atlanta debt collector ordered to pay up

The bill has come due for an Atlanta debt collection company accused of impersonating law enforcement to demand payments on payday loans. National Client Services – which was doing business under several names, including AFS Legal Services and National Payment Processing – been permanently banned from debt collection. What’s more, the company has been ordered to pay a judgment of...