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PILL MILLS-TENNESSEE

Jury in Tennessee convicts 4 for operating 'pill mills'

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say four people have been convicted in a Tennessee federal court of illegally distributing more than 11 million prescription opioid pills. The U.S. attorney's office in Knoxville says Sylvia Hofstetter was convicted of charges including racketeering conspiracy and drug conspiracy. Three other defendants were convicted of maintaining a building where drugs were involved. Prosecutors say millions of tablets of oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine generated more than $21 million of revenue for four Knoxville-area clinics. The drugs sold had a corresponding street value of $360 million. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced.

SOUTHERN STORMS-FLOODING

Mississippi residents fleeing floods after torrential rains

RIDGELAND, Miss. (AP) — Residents along a rain-swollen river in Mississippi are packing up belongings and fleeing to higher ground to escape what authorities warn could be devastating weekend flooding. The Pearl River flows through metro Jackson, Mississippi, and forecasters say it may reach levels not seen in more than four decades. So Leti Vargas enlisted help from relatives to clear appliances out her double-wide mobile home. Trash cans and ducks floated nearby. The flooding is the result of days of heavy rains over the Southeast. Flood concerns extend into neighboring Alabama, where some have already had to flee floodwaters.

MISSING STUDENT-TENNESSEE

Teen kidnapped by teacher settles suit with school for $650K

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A lawsuit has been settled between a Tennessee school district and a former student who was kidnapped by a teacher when she was 15. Tad Cummins sparked a weeks-long nationwide manhunt when he fled the state with the former Culleoka Unit School student in 2017. They were later found in a remote area of northern California. The girl and her father sued the Maury County School district in 2018, accusing teachers and the school's principal of ignoring several red flags regarding Cummins. The victim was awarded $650,000 in a settlement agreement. Cummins last year was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

SPIRIT-AIRLINES-HURRICANES

Hurricanes prompt Spirit to move operations control center

MIAMI (AP) — Spirit Airlines says it is moving its operations control center from South Florida to just outside Nashville, Tennessee, after recent hurricanes forced the low-cost carrier to temporarily move some staff during storms. Officials say the move will bring 345 jobs to Tennessee over the next five years. Spirit spokesman Field Sutton says about 240 positions are being moved from the Florida headquarters, which has about 1,000 employees. That will leave fewer than 800 workers in Florida. But Sutton says the company expects to be back up to 1,000 Florida employees within two years when they move into a new building in Dania Beach.

RURAL BROADBAND

Projects to improve broadband internet planned in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $9 million on high-speed broadband internet projects in 10 rural Tennessee counties. USDA officials said in a statement Thursday that the broadband projects will create or improve high speed internet connectivity in more than 3,700 households and more than 70 businesses and farms. Projects are planned in Cumberland, Houston, Henry, Maury, Montgomery, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Williamson and Wilson counties. Funds come from the federal ReConnect Pilot Program, which provides loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the country. In 2018, Congress provided $600 million for the program.

BED SORE DEATH-HOMICIDE CHARGES

3 charged with homicide, abuse in relative's death

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three Tennessee residents have been charged with reckless homicide and abuse after a relative died from complications caused by a severe bed sore. Nashville police say 78-year-old Willie Harper died last July shortly after being admitted to a hospital. Police said in a statement that a medical examiner ruled Harper’s death a homicide and an investigation determined Harper’s family members failed to take care of him, leading to the dire medical condition. A grand jury in Nashville handed down indictments this month charging Harper’s daughter,  his brother and his niece. They were taken into custody on Wednesday and Thursday. It wasn't clear whether they have attorneys.