Author: Jason Johnson

Fire district votes ahead for South Mobile County

Residents in two small areas of southern Mobile County will go to polls Nov. 7 to vote in two separate referendums related to local fire districts — one aiming to establish a new district outside of Bayou La Batre and another that could double the rates of fire service in Grand Bay. In Grand Bay, the premise of the referendum is fairly simple: People within the existing fire district there will vote for or against a proposed increase in the service they’re assessed by the Mobile County Revenue Commission to fund the district. Volunteer fire districts in the state of Alabama are permitted to levy a voluntary fee on property taxes collected within their districts. The Grand Bay Volunteer Fire Department is governed by two independent boards, the district board and a fire department board. Currently, the fire service fee in Grand Bay is $35 per year, which generates around $130,000 annually for the fire district. The proposed increase would take the yearly service rate up from $35 to $70 per year — doubling the money available to the Grand Bay VFD and marking the first increase in fire service fees in more than 25 years. Last week, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, whose district includes Grand Bay, said he supported the increase and thinks “they’re doing a good job.” He also noted that if the service rate were to...

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Mobile County capital murder suspect becomes latest to retry case

It was the first capital trial since her election in 2011, the death penalty was on the table for a heinous double murder and Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich prosecuted and secured the conviction herself a month after taking office. The jury found Derrick Penn, 44 at the time, guilty on four counts of capital murder. The prosecution proved that Penn broke into the apartment of his estranged wife, Janet Penn, where he fatally shot her before beating her boyfriend to death with the same gun. It was a strong win for a newly elected district attorney. It’s...

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Bystander charged after bullet meant for robber hits nearby home

Less than 60 seconds after it began, the Oct. 18 robbery of a Citgo gas station on Riverside Drive ended with a 15-year-old bystander shot in the abdomen and an errant bullet penetrating the front door of a nearby home before striking a TV set in an unoccupied living room. One of the individuals who fired those bullets is being charged with a crime, while the other is not, though neither shot was fired by the actual robbery suspect, 26-year-old Joseph Soutullo. It was a chain of events that local prosecutors have called “convoluted,” but the aftermath has Mobile...

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Billionaire pharma exec. tied to local ‘pill mill’ indicted

The founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc. was arrested Thursday and charged with allegedly bribing doctors to improperly prescribe Insys drugs containing the powerful opiate Fentanyl — the biggest arrest in a nationwide crackdown that’s already netted two convictions in Mobile. John N. Kapoor, 74, was arrested in his home state of Arizona Thursday and charged with RICO conspiracy as well as other felonies including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law. To date, Kapoor is the most prominent pharmaceutical executive to be charged in any drug conspiracy. Kapoor, the former Executive Chairman...

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Nodine charged with harassing communications

Former Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine turned himself in on a criminal charge of harassing communications today, just one week after a woman in Escambia County filed a restraining order against him based on similar accusations. The arrested resulted from a warrant signed by the woman last week with the Atmore Police Department, according to Nodine’s attorney Pascal Bruijn. Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks previously told Northescambia.com that the victim filed charges after Nodine allegedly “sent several text messages” to her — allegations that are similar to claims she made when the restraining order against Nodine was filed. While there aren’t many details in those document, the woman wrote that Nodine contacted her via text message on several occasions to let her know he was “in Atmore” and had even contacted several of her friends to send disparaging messages about her. “Has been accused in the past of murdering his ex-girlfriend Angel Downs,” she wrote in those court documents. “I am fearful of what he can do.” While Bruijn has confirmed Nodine was in a “prior romantic relationship” with the woman who made these allegations, he downplayed the need for the protective order. Responding to the arrest, Bruijn said Nodine “turned himself in and immediately bonded out.” He also noted that harassing communications is a class C misdemeanor, which is the “lowest class of misdemeanor” in criminal court. “Mr....

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U.S. Senate race has cost $6 per vote locally

The special election for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat has already cost taxpayers more than $497,000 locally, and this week Mobile County Commissioners approved a third six-figure expenditure toward the contest they didn’t know they’d be funding this time last year. While the cost of facilitating the election might seem high, it’s hard to say the same about the voter turnout in its first two phases. Of the 283,754 eligible voters in Mobile County, only 15 percent turned out to the polls for the August primary — 3 percent below the state average and the 8th lowest...

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New U.S. Attorney mirrors Sessions’ priorities, policies

In a speech before the Mobile Bar Association, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Richard Moore discussed his plans for his new office and how it might support the broader agenda of his friend and former boss, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore spent more than decade as the Inspector General for the Tennessee Valley Authority but returned to the world of federal prosecution last month to take the helm of an office he worked in for 18 years, a few of which were during Sessions’ tenure as the local U.S. Attorney. More than a few...

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Seven crossover votes reported locally, 647 statewide

Secretary of State John Merrill has turned over a list of 647 names of individuals who cast crossover votes in the Sept. 26 GOP U.S. Senate primary runoff to election officials in dozens of counties in the first wave of voters to run afoul of Alabama’s newest voting regulation. In 2016, the Alabama Legislature enacted a new law that prohibits crossover voting, which happens when someone who votes in a party primary election swaps affiliation to vote in a runoff election for the opposite party’s candidate. As the only runoff election was between two GOP candidates, the 647 individuals...

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