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How Atlanta-area teachers can get free school supplies

Atlanta-area teachers can get free school supplies at the 2016 Kroger teacher supply giveaway.

The event is Thursday, July 21 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center (2000 Convention Center Concourse, College Park) and the Infinite Energy Center (formerly known as the Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth).

Each teacher with a valid school ID will receive a reusable bag he or she can fill with school supplies including copier paper, tape, dry erase markers, tissues and hand sanitizer, while supplies last.

Mega Millions jackpot hits $540M after nobody wins Tuesday's drawing

The Mega Millions jackpot has hit an estimated $540 million after no tickets matched all six numbers in Tuesday’s drawing.

According to the Mega Millions official site, there were no winners of the estimated $454 million jackpot from Tuesday’s drawing.

>> Read more trending stories

Seven people matched five numbers but did not match the Megaplier, winning $1 million.

Tuesday’s winning numbers were 29-46-53-64-73 with the Megaplier 10.

The next drawing is Friday.

Michelle Obama doing karaoke with James Cordon!

The 'Carpool Karaoke' bit that James Cordon does has become HUGE . . . from Justin Bieber to Mariah Carey... and now, the First Lady Michelle Obama!

Michelle Obama started a Snapchat account yesterday, and she announced that James came over to the White House so they could shoot an episode.

There's no word when it will air.

Can't wait to see it!

Texas man loses leg to flesh-eating bacteria after trip to the beach

 A Texas man has lost his right leg after contracting flesh-eating bacteria during a trip to the beach.

According to KRIV, Brian Parrott, 50, of Jacinto City started to feel sick after he went swimming with his family at a Galveston beach June 12. The following Wednesday, his right leg was red and covered in boils.

Doctors amputated the leg from the knee down at Houston's Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where Parrott remains in intensive care.

Parrott's mother, Donna Dailey, told KRIV that doctors believe the bacteria entered his system through a scratch on his foot. Parrott also suffers from diabetes, which takes a toll on the immune system, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Dailey said the family wants to share Parrott's story "to get the word out" about the bacteria.

"There's nothing more that we can do for my son, but maybe we can save somebody else," she told KRIV.According to the Chronicle, Parrott's family has started a GoFundMe campaign. 

State authorities raid Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles

The Georgia Department of Revenue has raided Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles.

Gladys Knight’s son, who runs the operation, is at the center of an investigation involving $1 million, according to Channel 2 Action News. Gladys Knight is not involved in the investigation.

All three Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles locations in metro Atlanta have been closed, Channel 2 reported. The restaurants could reopen as soon as Thursday, possibly under state control, the station reported.

Atlanta police assisted in the raid, according to Channel 2.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

Taco Bell offering free tacos on Tuesday

Taco Bell announced today it would offer one free Doritos Locos taco to customers on Tuesday afternoon, June 21, as part of the restaurant chain’s “Steal a Game, Steal a Taco” NBA promotion.

The special offer will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday only. Taco Bell had announced prior to the NBA Finals that it would give away Doritos Locos tacos if a team won on its opponent’s home court in the NBA Finals — and that ended up happening not once, but three times, with the Golden State Warriors winning Game 4 in Cleveland, then the Cavaliers winning Games 5 and 7 on Golden State’s home court.

No purchase is necessary, according to the promotion’s terms and conditions, and as always, the offer will be good at participating Taco Bell locations. There is, of course, a limit of one free taco per customer.

Social media, community critical of dad’s defense of ex-Oakwood swimmer

A letter written by the father of ex-Oakwood and Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, coupled with a lenient sentence has roiled social media.

Dan Turner wrote the letter before his son’s sentencing in a sexual assault case Friday.

Turner wrote his son wasn’t violent. He referred to his son’s sexual assault as “20 minutes of action” and mentioned that his son doesn’t like eating steaks any more in his letter requesting probation instead of incarceration.

“This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” Dan Turner said in the letter.

This news organization was unable to contact Dan Turner for comment.

The letter was posted on Twitter by Michelle Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor, who called it offensive and criticized the court probation report.

Dauber tweeted, “#brockturner court probation report is fetid pond of victim-blaming rapeyness.”

Local residents voiced similar concerns about the letter.

“It’s part of the problem, we still have an issue with good ol’ boy, whatever’s for fun and never owning up to your responsibility as a man with integrity,” said Joanna McGuffey of Centerville.

Jenn All, of Oakwood, said she felt there was “a little bit of a lack of accountability when it came to the letter.”

“We know them and my prayers go out to the family and it’s unfortunate that people can post whatever they want behind the scenes and be anonymous.”

Brock Turner, 20, was sentenced Friday to six months in jail in Palo Alto, Calif. He was facing up to 10 years in prison, and with good behavior, could be out in three months, the Mercury News reported. He also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will have three years of probation following his release.

Turner’s sentencing was decried by many, including District Attorney Jeff Rosen, as too lenient, but Turner’s defense attorney said they plan to appeal.

Turner was convicted on assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person; penetration of an intoxicated person; and penetration of an unconscious person charges in March. The charges stemmed from a January 2015 incident where two people reported they saw Turner, then 19, assaulting his accuser behind a dumpster on Stanford’s campus after a fraternity party. Turner ran but witnesses stopped and held him until police arrived, according to a statement released by Rosen.

Turner is a three-time All-American Oakwood High School swimmer and Stanford swimmer who had aspired to swim in the Olympics.

Before Turner was sentenced, the victim read her impact statement in court and addressed the defendant.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she said.

“The damage is done, no one can undo it,” the victim’s statement reads. “And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”

Dirty license plate leads to $1,590 traffic fine

Many courts comply with the schedule of fines laid out in a document used nationwide that is known as the Traffic Violations Bureau. Here are some examples of fines with required surcharges.

Grantville Municipal Court

Decal not affixed — $160

Driving on wrong side of the road — $160

Speeding 15 to 18 mph over limit — $405

Failure to yield to emergency vehicle — $510

Cobb County State Court

Decal not affixed — $39

Driving on wrong side of the road — $155

Speeding 15 to 18 mph over limit — $173

Failure to yield to emergency vehicle — $259

Richmond County State Court

Decal not affixed — 39.13

Driving on wrong side of the road — 209.75

Speeding 15 to 18 mph over limit — 209.75

Failure to yield to emergency vehicle — 175.63

Gwinnett County Recorders Court

Decal not affixed — $45

Driving on wrong side of the road — $96

Speeding 15 to 18 mph over limit — $180

Failure to yield to emergency vehicle — $96

Norcross Municipal Court

Decal not affixed — $150

Driving on wrong side of the road — $210

Speeding 15 to 18 mph over limit — $310

Failure to yield to emergency vehicle — $210

DeKalb State Court (does not include state surcharges)

Decal not affixed — $100 (may be reduced if renewed prior to court)

Driving on the wrong side of the road — $120

Speeding 15-18 mph over speed limit — $130

Failure to yield to emergency vehicle — $120

A dirty license plate cost Linda Ford $1,590 that she can’t afford.

A Grantville police officer pulled over Ford around 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday last fall, while she was on her way to a church yard sale to raise money for homeless women. The officer pulled her over, he said, because her license place cover had too much tint. It was dirt — not tinting — blown from the car’s exhaust that made it difficult to read her plate.

It was then that the police officer for Grantville, in Coweta County, discovered she had not attached an updated decal to her plate to show her registration was current.

Ford showed the officer the decal that had been put in her glove box and forgotten. The police officer said she could explain that when she went to court.

But there are no assurances that explaining such a situation to a judge will be successful since the results of challenging a traffic ticket vary widely from state court to municipal court to recorders court across Georgia.

Some are more forgiving that others.

“Ms. Ford, you can’t forget that. You can’t forget that kind of stuff,” Grantville Municipal Court Judge Lisa Reeves said during the first of two times Ford was in court for the Sept. 5 ticket. “I can suspend your drivers license for not putting your tag on your car.”

Ford was ordered to pay $720 — nearly 29 times what other courts levy when a decal is not affixed to a car tag. She was fined as if her registration had been suspended.

Can she pay it today, the judge asked Ford during a Dec. 16 court session.

Ford didn’t have the money, right then, explaining that she just paid more than $4,800 to repair her 2011 Audi. Could she have 30 days? asked Ford, a 52-year-old Fairburn resident who is a baggage handler at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Yes. But Reeves warned Ford her fine would go up if she didn’t have the money by then.

By the next time Ford appeared in court she had only saved $480. So, as the judge had warned, Reeves increased the fine to $1,590 and put Ford on probation.

“A simple fine has gone up on you,” Reeves said when she announced the tougher punishment.

Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said she was surprised that Reeves increased the fine after the sentence had been imposed.

“Not only is it heavy-handed, it’s outside the bounds of what the law permits,” Geraghty said, adding that a fine cannot be increased after a sentence is set.

Criminal attorney Steve Weiner also was surprised at the doubling of the fine, “which is something I have never heard of and I feel borders on extortion. Additionally, no judge has the authority to impose a fine for a misdemeanor of this kind greater than the statutory limit of $1,000.”

Fines vary by locale

While Ford is on probation, she must “avoid persons or places of disreputable character” and cannot move without her probation officer’s permission. She must also submit to a breath, urine or blood test if her probation officer orders one, and it will be at her expense.

“Where there is no legitimate reason for a drug test, you have to wonder why a court is ordering this test,” Geraghty said. “It’s an intrusion into people’s privacy and it burdens them with a financial obligation.”

Reeves, a part-time judge, declined to comment on the case.

Many courts issue fines provided for in the Traffic Violations Bureau, a document created 50 years ago that is still used nationwide in some jurisdictions. It lays out the fines for low-level traffic offenses such as improper backing up and parking in the wrong direction, as well as for more serious violations like speeding, running a red light or failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

For not displaying a decal, Ford’s offense, the charge levied by courts in places like Atlanta, Cobb County and Augusta is $25 plus state surcharges that bring the total to just over $39.

But in some courts, the fines or bonds are set by the judge as is the case in Grantville, a west Georgia town of 3,145 that ranks 20th for fines issued per capita. The city fines drivers $160 for not displaying a decal. But Ford was charged a $720 fine for a suspended registration, even though it was up-to-date.

‘I didn’t have the money’

To the casual observer, municipal court hearings can be confusing and move quickly.

In Grantville on the two days that Ford attended, it was even more so.

Court documents show Ford was first charged with having a suspended registration, but it was changed to failing to display a current decal.

In court, however, Reeves would refer to Ford’s failure to affix her decal one moment and then the next say her registration had been suspended, even though Ford produced documents showing she had paid for the decal in January.

The second time Ford came to court, on Feb. 9, it was to pay the fine and she only had $480 saved.

Reeves lectured and refused to hear Ford’s reasons. The judge then more than doubled the fine and put Ford on 12 months probation.

“I tried to help her out,” the judge said to the court clerk.

Ford now pays more than $170 a month, which includes a $44 fee for a private probation company to collect the fine. Most recently, that monthly payment had to be made when her pay check for that week was only $277 because she was out of work sick for several days.

“My mortgage (payment) is up. I have (a) power (bill) and everything else,” Ford said. “I had put so much money into that Audi, it drained me. And I ended up having to get another car.”

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