Top NC court weighs lawmakers stripping of governor's powers

U.S. Supreme Court

North Carolina's highest court on Monday tackled the question of how far the Republican-led legislature can go to minimize new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's ability to pursue goals that helped him get elected last year by reshaping state government.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by Cooper that claims legislators violated North Carolina's constitution this spring by passing a law diminishing the governor's role in managing elections.

It's the first time the high court has waded into the ongoing political battle between lawmakers and Cooper that began after he narrowly beat incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory last November. GOP lawmakers have sought to diminish Cooper's powers ever since.

The governor's lawyers told the seven-member court that the General Assembly violated the constitution's separation of powers requirement by reshaping the state elections board in ways that entrench Republican advantage. Elections boards are examples of the types of bodies that implement laws, functions that the state constitution requires from governors.

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Thai National Sentenced, Faces Deportation for Operating Immigration Fraud Scheme

Nimon Naphaeng, 36, a native and citizen of Thailand, who resided in Wakefield, R.I., was sentenced Monday to 27 months in federal prison for running an immigration fraud scheme that defrauded more than 320 individuals, most of them immigrants, of at least $400,000, and perhaps more than $518,000. The scheme included the unauthorized filing of false asylum applications on behalf of individuals who did not request, nor authorize, the applications.

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not tolerate immigration fraud of any kind,” said Susan Raufer, director of the USCIS Newark Asylum Office. “We are proud of our role in uncovering this fraud scheme and bringing the perpetrator to justice.”

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith ordered a provisional amount of restitution of $400,000. The final amount of restitution will be determined subject to additional victims being identified and additional court filings over the next 90 days. According to court documents already filed by the government, restitution in this matter may exceed $518,300. During the investigation, the government seized $285,789.31 from Naphaeng. The forfeited funds will be applied toward restitution for victims of Naphaeng’s crimes.