Latest Georgia news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. EDT

June 20, 2018 - 12:00 am

BIDEN-ABRAMS

Biden backs Abrams in closely-watched Georgia race

ATLANTA (AP) — Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden might seem like a political odd couple.

But the 75-year-old former vice president is endorsing the 44-year-old Atlanta attorney who's trying to become the first black female governor in U.S. history.

Abrams won Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial nomination in May. She will face the winner of a July 24 Republican runoff between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Her campaign has garnered national attention, but she'll be an underdog given the state's GOP lean.

Biden's move puts him on record alongside other national figures supporting Abrams. They include Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, all potential 2020 presidential candidate.

Abrams says Biden's reputation for connecting with a range of voters helps make her case that she can represent all Georgians.

INFANT-HOT CAR DEATH

Infant dies in hot car near coastal Georgia motel

(Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com)

KINGSLAND, Ga. (AP) — A 7-month-old infant has died after being left in a hot car near a motel in coastal Georgia.

The Florida Times-Union reports details are limited as the investigation continues, but Kingsland Police Inspector Donald Belcher confirmed Tuesday that the child was found in a car near the Quality Inn, next to Interstate 95 along Georgia 40.

He says it is unknown if the child and caregivers were staying at the motel or just parked there. The victim's name has not been released.

Prior to a drenching thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon, Belcher said the temperature was in the 90s.

Kingsland is in Camden County on the Georgia coast at the Florida state line.

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OFFICER ARRESTED-ASSAULT CHARGE

Georgia officer arrested, charged with assaulting woman

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia police officer is charged with assaulting a woman while he was off duty.

Cobb County police spokeswoman Officer Sarah O'Hara said in an email that Officer Robert Lanier New was arrested Monday. News outlets report he faces a misdemeanor charge of simple battery and a felony charge of aggravated assault.

An arrest warrant says New choked and slapped a woman during sex in March. It says she cried but couldn't tell New to stop because his hands were around her throat. Police say the woman has the mental capacity of a 10- to 14-year-old girl.

Police say New also texted the woman, saying, "I am in charge, I am in control."

New was being held without bond. It wasn't immediately clear Tuesday whether he has an attorney.

TOWEL-CLAD DOG THIEF

Towel-clad woman accused of stealing car, Georgia Pomeranian

(Information from: The Times, http://www.gainesvilletimes.com)

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A towel-clad woman is accused of stealing a car and its passenger, a nearly 5-year-old Pomeranian named Bear.

The Gainesville Times reports Matt Sanders loaded Bear into the car Sunday and ran back inside his Georgia home for his phone. Sanders said he returned to see the unidentified woman drive off with Bear. Sanders and Bear reunited Monday.

Braselton Police Chief Terry Esco says the department received a complaint around 3 a.m. Monday about a woman with heart problems at a hotel. Officers arrived and found Bear unharmed in the room's bathroom. He says officers ran the license plate on a car outside and discovered it was stolen. He says charges are pending the woman's medical status. Hall County Sheriff's Office says it hasn't made a "determination" on charges.

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AP-US-NCAA-REFEREE-MOLESTATION

NCAA basketball referee pleads guilty to molesting teen boy

(Information from: Marietta Daily Journal, http://mdjonline.com/)

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A NCAA women's basketball referee has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting a 14-year-old at a Georgia hotel.

The Marietta Daily Journal reports 58-year-old Wesley Tyronne Dean pleaded guilty Friday to molesting the boy at a Cobb County Hotel. County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Kim Isaza says Dean gave a full confession to investigators.

The newspaper reports the boy's mother found inappropriate texts between the teen and Dean in October 2016. The teen then told investigators that Dean drove him to a hotel where they engaged in sexual activity. Security video confirmed the two were together that night. Assistant District Attorney Katie Gropper says Dean gave the teen money and gifts "with the motivation of exploiting him sexually."

Dean has been in custody since last year.

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BEER BOTTLE FACTORY CLOSING

Glass company: People drink less beer, more of it in cans

(Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com)

ATLANTA (AP) — An Ohio-based glass company says it's closing a Georgia bottle factory — and part of the reason is that people are drinking less beer, and buying more of it in cans.

Owens-Illinois Inc. spokeswoman Janet Galecki tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Atlanta factory will close around July 18, putting 270 people out of work.

She says that in addition to the declining beer market, the plant needed work.

She says in an email that employees will be eligible for separation benefits.

Galecki says the plant's customers are mainly mainstream domestic beer companies and will get bottles from other Owens-Illinois plants.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association says malt beverage sales fell 1 percent last year. That's the equivalent of 31 million cases holding two-dozen 12-ounce cans or bottles.

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ILLEGAL HAZARDOUS WASTE DUMPING-PLEA

Guilty pleas in illegal shipping of hazardous waste

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Leaders of companies in Ohio and Missouri have pleaded guilty to illegally shipping 9 million pounds of hazardous waste from Mississippi to Missouri.

Prosecutors say Raymond Williams and his company, U.S. Technology Corp., pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to conspiring to transport hazardous waste. Williams, of Atlanta, is the sole shareholder and director of U.S. Technology, which was based in Canton, Ohio.

Daryl and Penny Duncan, of Chicago, both pleaded guilty Thursday to placing a person in imminent danger by releasing hazardous waste into the air, misdemeanor. They owned a company called Missouri Green Materials in Berger, Missouri, that accepted the waste from Williams' company in 2013.

Prosecutors say neither company nor their officers obtained the permits needed to ship or dispose of the waste.

ART INSTITUTE COMMENCEMENT-JOHN LEWIS

US Rep. John Lewis to speak at art institute commencement

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — U.S. Rep. John Lewis will be the keynote speaker at the Art Institute of Atlanta's commencement ceremony.

Lewis is scheduled to speak during the 11 a.m. Monday event at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre northwest of Atlanta.

The Georgia Democrat and civil rights worker led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, during the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march. The protest ended with marchers being brutally attacked by law enforcement officers.

Lewis also worked on voter registration drives and other civil rights activities in Mississippi and across the South during the 1960s.

The Art Institute said in a news release that more than 300 diplomas will be conferred during the ceremony, including 55 to U.S. military veterans.

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