Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Week's Headlines!

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Prominent Richmond developer Justin French pled guilty to two felony counts of wire fraud and unlawful monetary transactions on Monday in U.S. District Court. His sentencing is set for May 3rd where he could face 30 years in prison, restitution and as much as 500,000 dollars in fines, according to Style Weekly. The counts stemmed from French using state and federal historic tax credits on development deals. He overestimated repair costs, received credits and then sold them to investment partners. According to his plea deal, he developed 20 properties with credits and had 16 more planned. U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride told reporters outside the courthouse on Monday an investigation into French’s scheme continues.

Richmonders can expect rain to continue until 4pm today with sleet entering into the mix later this evening. There is a 90 percent chance of snow tonight and the weather service is expecting one inch to accumulate. The snowy situation doesn’t have much chance of sticking around when highs will creep into the forties Thursday and Friday and Saturday is expected to be sunny and reach 52 degrees.

A Virginia legislator has proposed castrating sex offenders after they get out of prison to avoid the increasing costs of treating them. Republican Senator Emmett Hanger’s bill includes a study of who qualifies for the procedure and proposes to study the use of physical castration as an alternative to civil commitment for sexually violent criminals. According to WRIC Channel 8 News, a similar proposal was vetoed four years ago.

Richmond City Council approved a real estate tax amnesty program on Monday. The plan provides an incentive for property owners behind on their real-estate taxes to get right with the city. It waives delinquent fees if taxes are paid in full between February 15th and April 15th. His plan also includes a zero percent interest rate for late payments in 2011 which he said aims to help Richmond residents recovering from the weak economy and allows them to get used to the bill payment cycles which recently changed to twice a year. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the city is hoping to entice at least 3.1 million from property owners through Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ program.

Local gallery Art Works presents its first exhibit of Artistic Realization Technology or A.R.T. this Friday at 7pm. A.R.T. was developed in 1995 with a grant from artist Roy Lichtenstein to allow individuals without mobility in their hands or feet or without speech to use technology like laser pointers to instruct trained assistants to create photos, sculptures and paintings by their design. Art Works has collaborate with Easter Seals USP and artist Tim Lefen to create a permanent hub for A.R.T., where disabled artists and their assistants can come to create. This Friday marks the first in an ongoing series.

-Caroline Jackson

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