Prosecutors agree to toss judge’s conviction
SAVANNAH, GA. — Prosecutors have sided with defense lawyers in asking a federal court to throw out the 2009 conviction of a former Georgia judge who resigned and pleaded guilty to settle corruption charges.
Brooks E. Blitch III served nearly 28 years as a powerful Superior Court judge in rural Clinch County before federal authorities charged him with fixing cases, appointing his former law partner to a judgeship in exchange for legal services and making illegal payments to employees. He avoided prison by agreeing to plead guilty to a single count of a 14-count federal indictment.
Now attorneys on both sides say his plea should be thrown out after the Supreme Court last year ruled in an unrelated case that the charge to which Blitch pleaded guilty – honest service fraud conspiracy – is only a crime if there’s evidence the defendant accepted bribes or kickbacks. A federal judge has yet to rule on a motion to throw out his plea and conviction.
All of South Carolina remains in drought
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Despite rains of more than 9 inches in some areas of South Carolina during the past week, the entire state remains in a moderate drought, with the outlook for the coming months grim.
South Carolina’s Drought Response Committee met by telephone Thursday and agreed to maintain the moderate status, although the forecast for the next 10 days calls for little rain and the long-range forecast projects dry weather through early spring.
The panel made up of state and federal officials and local representatives agreed to meet again in three weeks amid concerns some counties in the central Savannah River valley might have to be upgraded to severe drought status, which can require water restrictions.
Pasta factory to help schools raise money
COLUMBIA — Every South Carolina school can have an inexpensive spaghetti night fundraiser or dinner thanks to a big donation from a Columbia pasta factory.
American Italian Pasta Co. said Thursday that it will give away a pound of spaghetti for every four people that a school plans to feed.
The donation by the maker of Mueller’s pasta and other private label brands was obtained by South Carolina Future Minds, a foundation that encourages private businesses to help public schools.
Schools may request the free pasta at the foundation’s Web site, www.scfutureminds.org.
South Carolina Future Minds Executive Director Trip DuBard said schools will have to provide their own sauce for now, but the foundation is seeking more donations.