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Georgia Briefs - April 9, 2014

Smyrna man, 42, found dead

ATLANTA (MCT) — Nearly one month after authorities issued a Mattie’s Call for a 42-year-old Smyrna man, officials said Tuesday he was found dead in an area near Nickajack Creek and Fontaine Road.

Two men were searching for a unique mushroom that grows in that area at 1:40 p.m. Saturday when they located the body of Micah James LaBorde, Smyrna police Officer C.D. Graeff said in a news release reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A Mattie’s Call was issued March 10 when LaBorde went missing and made threats to commit suicide. Smyrna and Cobb County police searched Heritage Park, LaBorde’s last known location, but could not find him.

Graeff said the “incident is being ruled a suicide and no foul play (is) suspected.”

King siblings battle over sales

ATLANTA (MCT) — In their current court battle with their sister, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III claim that they urgently need to sell their father’s Nobel Peace Prize and Bible.

It’s difficult to know why that is, because neither Dexter, Martin III nor Bernice King will comment publicly, and much of their finances are private and shielded from public view. But a review of available tax documents, court papers and real estate records provides some clues to the siblings’ assets, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Those records show that Dexter King has received by far the greatest sums from the nonprofit King Center for Nonviolent Social Change: about $3 million in salary and benefits since 1996. King III received considerably less during that time, and there’s no record of any payments by the center to Bernice King. Dexter also enjoyed a seven-figure payday from his commission on the sale of Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers.

“Critics will say you can’t treat Dr. King like an American treasure that belongs to everyone, then also treat him like Google stock that belongs to the family,” said John Blake, a former AJC reporter and the author of “Children of the Movement.”

Hearing set on tuition arguments

ATLANTA (MCT) — A Fulton County Superior Court judge has scheduled a May 6 hearing for a lawsuit about whether immigrants without legal status in the U.S. should be granted in-state tuition in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reproted.

Judge John Goger will be hearing arguments from 39 immigrants who say the Georgia Board of Regents is not following its own tuition policy.

At issue is a controversial Obama administration program that has granted the plaintiffs a temporary reprieve from deportation. The federal government says people who granted that benefit are legally present in the U.S., which is what Georgia’s in-state tuition policy requires.

The board has argued in court papers that sovereign immunity shields it from the lawsuit and it hasn’t been established whether the plaintiffs “meet the regulatory and statutory requirements of legal presence in the state of Georgia” to qualify for in-state tuition.

Opponents of the lawsuit say in-state tuition should be reserved for those who have legal status in the U.S. Supporters say it makes sense to award the benefit to students who could contribute more to Georgia’s economy after boosting their skills in college.

Wreck reports cost Georgians more

ATLANTA (MCT) — The state says taxpayers save because of Georgia’s contract with a private company to maintain and sell accident reports.

But there is a cost. Drivers have to pay more — $11 — for a copy of their accident reports from the website Buycrash.com than they would if they went to their local police department, which would provide them for anywhere from $5, for 10 cents a page or for free.

The win for taxpayers is Appriss Inc. will have paid the state $650,000 by the time the five-year contract expires in October for the rights to distribute accident reports. And local law enforcement agencies are rewarded with $2 to $5 for sale of each of their accident reports sold on the Appriss website Buycrash.com, reports that local police would otherwise sell directly for $5 or for 10 cents a page or simply give away at no cost.

All the while, the company is making millions selling accident reports for $11 each to drivers, their lawyers and insurance companies and anyone else whose property was damaged by a car crash..

In addition to the additional expense to drivers, the website also can be valuable to identity thieves, according to a warning issued by the FBI. Georgia law limits who can get an accident report to those involved, insurance companies or their lawyers and the media but to verify who is buying the documents it takes only a click in a box on the company’s website.