UPDATE: Former Roanoke woman pleads guilty in mortgage fraud case

WLNI-MLYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ A former Roanoke woman has pleaded guilty in a Smith Mountain Lake mortgage fraud scheme.   Susanne Helbig, who now lives in Georgia, was charged in a 15-count indictment in May. She pleaded guilty to one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy and one count of tax fraud Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. Media outlets report that the other 13 counts were dismissed. The indictment claimed that in 2006 and 2007, Helbig and others submitted false and fraudulent mortgage loan applications and settlement statements in the name of straw purchasers. The losses were calculated at about $11 million. The 50-year-old Helbig will be sentenced Jan. 20.

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Bob McDonnell wants new trial over jury issues

Former Virginia  Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Lawyers for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell say he should get a new trial on corruption charges because the jury in his case was potentially biased and may have acted improperly. McDonnell’s lawyers filed court documents Thursday saying U.S. District Judge James Spencer did not properly examine whether potential jurors for the case had been unfairly swayed by pre-trial news coverage of the case. Defense attorneys also argued that Spencer should have investigated a possible claim that jurors who were picked for the case discussed the trial among themselves before they were allowed to do so.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted in September of performing “official acts” to promote a businessman’s dietary supplement products in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts, trips and loans.

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Virginia to monitor sex offenders tonight

Dept. of Corrections (DOC)RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia Department of Corrections has announced plans to monitor sex offenders under probation and parole supervision throughout the state on Halloween night. Through Operation Porch Lights Out, offenders are required to remain at home with their lights out and not answer the door for trick-or-treaters. If they’re not at home, they are required to attend a meeting at a secure location during the evening hours when children are likely to be trick-or-treating. Of Virginia’s 43 probation and parole districts, seven districts plan to hold mandatory meetings at secure locations while the remaining districts will require offenders to remain at home with their lights out, not answering the door for trick-or-treaters. To ensure offender compliance, probation and parole officers, state police and local law enforcement will make random home visits.

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UVA abduction suspect in court on separate case

Jesse Matthew  (Photo: Charlottesville PD)

Jesse Matthew
(Photo: Charlottesville PD)

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ The man accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham is being arraigned on an unrelated sexual assault from nearly a decade ago. Jesse Matthew will appear Friday morning for his arraignment in Fairfax County Circuit Court via video from a jail in the Charlottesville area, where he is being held. Matthew was indicted earlier this month on charges including attempted capital murder in connection with a September 2005 sexual assault on a 26-year-old woman who was walking home from the supermarket in Fairfax. For several years, authorities have said the assault was linked by DNA to the disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. Fairfax authorities charged Matthew shortly after authorities linked the Harrington case to Graham’s abduction as well. The 18-year-old Graham’s remains were found in mid-October.

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UPDATE: Route 130 accident victim was 2013 LC Grad, Campbell County teacher

va state policeA fatal accident his morning on Route 130 in Amherst County, a little east of US 29 Business, took the life of a Madison Heights man. State Police say 23-year-old Brogan Franklin swerved in an attempt to avoid a deer, then crossed over the median and was struck by an oncoming SUV; he died at the scene. Lynchburg College says he was a 2013 graduate, and Campbell County Schools list him as a teacher at William Campbell Combined School.  Investigators say 25-year-old Amber N. Pueh of Amherst was driving the SUV, and she was not seriously hurt.


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CVCC Meets All Criteria Since Being Placed on Probation

CVCCCentral Virginia Community College has met all 87 criteria for the school’s compliance certification great news since it was placed on probation about 18 months ago. The accrediting agency instituted the probation in 2012 and lifted it in 2013…but a probation period delayed the reaffirmation of accreditation process. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges accepted CVCC’s quality enhancement plan with only a few recommendations last week. Loss of accreditation would mean loss of federal student aid and likely the closure of the college. The process for the school’s accreditation could beginning as early as the spring.

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CSX Conducting Test on James River Water

CSX_LogoSix months after a train derailment that thrust Lynchburg into a national debate over the nation’s growing oil-by-rail traffic. CSX has announced it will continue conducting test on water of the James River. Monthly visual checks and quarterly water quality tests are being used to monitor the effects of the derailment and oil spill. The train cars that overturned on April 30 were hauling Bakken crude. The James River Association, plans to unveil a campaign next month highlighting the dangers that hazardous material cargo present to the river. Sources say monitoring is expected to continue at least through summer 2015.

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The Shift YOUR Shopping Pledge 2014

buy local lynchburgHere at Buy Local Lynchburg we are building a tradition that strengthens local economies, expands employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding shopping experience.
As customers, we collectively spend a large portion of our annual shopping budget between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. Thank you for joining us in shifting those dollars to locally owned, independent businesses.
Based on studies of similar efforts, we should generate 2-3 times as much economic activity in our community than if we spend our money at a national chain. Across North America that could mean billions of dollars of economic impact.
The retail merchants association and buy local Lynchburg would like to bring this benefit to our small area of the country with an initiative. Basically, we are encouraging you to take the pledge to “shift your shopping 20%” this holiday season to local and get entered to win.
Text the two words “IPLEGE20″ to 25399 each week from November 1st through January 3rd for a chance to win a local gift card each week from buy local Lynchburg and it’s many local businesses.
If you see our sign out in the community or in a store look to see if they are doing a “fishbowl drawing” promotion by taking the pledge at their store or restaurant. Many are doing it this way so there are several ways to win! Keep an eye out for signs or just ask and encourage them to participate.
So, shift your shopping 20% this holiday season and every one ins a winner. We encourage you to challenge co-workers and friends. Gather up your receipts at the end of the holiday shopping season and see just how well you did. Make some bets of your own…everyone likes healthy competition.
So thank you again for your support of this program and of the retail merchants association and buy local Lynchburg. Remember, that in order to keep educational programs like this, we need our local businesses to join our efforts. www.buylocallynchburg.com or by calling: 434-528-1462.

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Va. judge: Cellphone pass codes protected

STATE-NEWSVIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) _ A judge has ruled that a criminal defendant cannot be forced give authorities the pass code to his cellphone. The Virginian Pilot reports that Virginia Beach Circuit Judge Steven Frucci issued the ruling this week in the case of David Baust, who is charged with trying to strangle his girlfriend. Prosecutors wanted to search Baust’s cellphone for a possible video of the couple’s altercation. Defense attorney James Broccoletti argued that pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which shields a defendant from self-incrimination. Frucci ruled that authorities can gain access if a phone can be opened with a fingerprint, which is akin to a DNA sample, a writing sample or an actual key. But he said a pass code requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which is protected.

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Old landfill may create new problems for Dearington neighborhood; city holds meeting next week

City of LynchburgFrom the City of Lynchburg: On Wednesday, November 5 at 6:00 p.m., the City of Lynchburg will host an important meeting for the residents of the Dearington neighborhood and other interested parties. The meeting will be held at the Dearington Elementary School of Innovation, 210 Smyth Street. According to historical records, a portion of the property that now makes up the Dearington community once served as a landfill. This landfill was closed in the late 1960’s. Recently, the City discovered that there has been significant erosion or wearing away of the covering in a certain portion of the old landfill. The purpose of the meeting is to inform residents about the issue, talk about possible solutions and hear concerns from residents. The meeting is open to the public, and residents in the Dearington community are encouraged to attend. Questions may be directed to (434) 856-2489.

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