Charlottesville Breaking News

Scanner error: NC State checks turn up in Charlottesville

Anson Parker made a New Year's resolution: To let North Carolina State University know that the scanner he bought on eBay contained copies of thousands of checks written to the school in Raleigh.

"It was millions of dollars in checks," says Parker, with bank account numbers and signatures, and some with Social Security and drivers license numbers.

Parker, who works at the Claude Moore Health Sciences library, had purchased the Canon scanner for $500 on eBay to use in his archival work, and he estimates it would have cost around $5,000 new. "It's a neat little scanner," he says.

How hard was it to discover the cache of check copies?

"It was real hard," deadpans Parker. "I had to plug it in, and it said, would you like to look at archived files?"

And when he found checks– one for $500,000– the implications of what he was sitting on alarmed him.

"Holy smokes," says Parker, who contacted the University and the North Carolina Department of Justice and didn't feel like his information was taken very seriously until January 6, when he got a phone call from his mother, who was contacted by investigators.

"I was ballistic," says Parker. "I'm 34 years old, and they call my mother? That was completely insensitive."

"This was taken very seriously," says NC State spokesman Brad Bohlander. "We received an email January...

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FunStuff: Charlottesville events January 19 and beyond

Belt it out
If you think karaoke means following a bouncing ball over computer-screen lyrics as canned musical accompaniment blares, think again. Thanks to the rocking (and very patient) back-up band Retrospective Collective, every Thursday, aspiring professional singers– and those who just enjoy belting it out in the car or the shower– bring their rock-star fantasies to life.
January 19, Fellini's, 10pm, free


Belmont talent
You can't throw a stone in Belmont without hitting an artist (and we certainly don't recommend you try...) but if you want a sense of just how talent-dense the neighborhood really is, check out this group show at the gallery located at 100 Second St. NW off the Downtown Mall (aka the Hook building), featuring an...

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Life behind bars: Eric Abshire defiant at sentencing

After declaring his love for his late wife and his innocence in her death, a defiant Eric Abshire, convicted in October of killing Justine Swartz Abshire, spoke aloud in court. It was the first time the 37-year-old made a statement since entering his not guilty plea last March.

"Justice for Justine will never happen," said Abshire. Minutes later, Orange County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Bouton confirmed the jury-recommended life sentence for the first-degree murder.

"You demanded trial by jury," said Bouton. "We provided you with the jury."

Although their service ended with the October 25 conviction, at least two jurors attended the January 12 sentencing hearing.

"I was here to make sure the sentence we recommended was upheld," explained juror Michelle Hooper, who says she's had no second thoughts. "We all felt very strongly about it."

Before the sentencing began, Abshire's attorney, Charles "Buddy" Weber, unsuccessfully moved to have the verdict tossed, claiming that the medical evidence hadn't explained how Justine died on November 2-3, 2006, the night Abshire claimed to have found her as the ostensible victim of a hit-and-run on Taylorsville Road near Barboursville.

At trial, prosecution witnesses offered evidence suggesting...

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Simpson's folly? Nelsonian gets serious about Alaska race

After more than a generation as the unofficial ambassador of Nelson County, Russ Simpson suddenly finds himself unrecognizable. The proprietor of a popular roadside stand along U.S. 29 has recently shed over 40 pounds, part of his quest to race a snowmobile across the frozen surface of the state once known as "Seward's Folly."

"My weight now is what it was in high school," says Simpson, laughing as he recalls a longtime Apple Shed customer asking him for the whereabouts of the owner.

"I recognized him," says another friend, Alan Van Clief. "But it's not the Russ Simpson I've been seeing for eight or 10 years."

Simpson is in the final days of training for the world's longest snowmobile race, the Iron Dog, an event whose four-time champion is Todd Palin. And Simpson says he got a phone call from Alaska's so-called "First Dude" after visiting Wasilla in search of a race partner.

"I thought it was my brother-in-law playing a joke," says Simpson.

As it turned out, Palin was trying to be helpful, but rookie racer Simpson won't get to compete with Palin this year. He'll have to content himself with the so-called "trail class," the mere 1,100-mile version of the Iron Dog. But for Simpson, there's something larger at stake than pride: his life.

Five years ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 2-B melanoma in his shoulder– "basically from standing in the sun when we...

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Meadow Creek Parkway: Rubber hits road

The man touted as instrumental in getting what was long called the Meadow Creek Parkway built– or at least 1.4 miles of it– wasn't there. Former U.S. Senator John W. Warner, 84, checked into the hospital the night before the January 6 ribbon-cutting/unveiling of the portion of the road named in his honor.

Most of the speakers at the ceremony invoked Warner's name and how much he'd done for Charlottesville and Albemarle: the $27-million federal earmark for the parkway's unbuilt interchange that revived the aging project in 2005, the levees that keep the James River out of oft-flooded Scottsville, and National Ground Intelligence Center and its $2 billion payroll, which, according to former supervisor Forrest Marshall, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wanted to move to Maryland.

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Editor's Note
4Better Or Worse