Article Published: Dec. 23, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Steve Goss

Jefferson man arrested in FBI probe
Keith Simmons, owner of Black Diamond Capital Group in Jefferson, was arrested on Thursday, Dec. 16, by Ashe County Sheriff's Deputies and turned over to FBI agents.

According to Sheriff James Williams, the agents made the arrest, without incident, at approximately 3 p.m. in the parking lot of the Roses department store located at 761 East Main Street in Jefferson.

Williams said Simmons faces charges including money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud. Simmons was held in Cabarrus County on Thursday night before being transported to Charlotte, where he will be held in federal custody. Simmons is expected to appear before a federal magistrate on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Stephanie Craig, acting public affairs specialist for the FBI's Charlotte Field Office, said that there is "no comment at this time" from the FBI.

The arrest comes only eight days after federal agents conducted a raid on offices of Black Diamond, located at 522 South Main Street in Jefferson. Federal agents confiscated vehicles and computers from the business during the raid.
- Joel Frady, (

Goss wins Sunshine Award
N.C. Sen. Steve Goss was among those given a Sunshine Award this week for those who file "superior" reports disclosing details about their campaign expenses and donations.

The non-partisan award is given by the watchdog group Democracy North Carolina and comes months after Goss was criticized for incorrectly collecting travel reimbursements from his campaign account.

Goss took the legally allowed reimbursements this year instead of spreading them over the four years of his campaign, and was required to amend his campaign reports as filed with the State Board of Elections.

Award winners include 20 N.C. House members and 12 N.C. Senators. The list has 22 Democrats, including House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, and 10 Republicans, including Paul Stam and Tom Apodaca.

"Our staff and interns evaluated the reports of all 170 legislators elected in 2008 and found these 32 went well beyond the minimum of the law to give the public valuable information about where they get their campaign money and how it's spent," said Bob Hall, Democracy NC's executive director.

Award winners are judged over two years of reports.

As judged by the group, they filed their six reports in 2007-2008 on time and in an accessible format, listed the purpose of 99 percent of the expenses over $50 and provided economic interest or employer information for 99 percent of the people who gave more than $50 to their campaign.

Many other legislators satisfied some of these criteria, Hall said, but some didn't have the 25 small donors required to be eligible and the 32 winners were the most transparent and timely.
-Scott Nicholson, (

Fund started for victims of chimney fire
A bank account has been opened at BB&T to benefit the Brown family. Last Thursday, a chimney fire broke at the family's residence in Sugar Grove. Due to smoke damage, most of their furniture and clothing must be discarded. The owner of the rental home started a fund to help the Brian and Carrie Brown replace the items. The couple has two small children as well. Donations can be made at any BB&T location under the account name Brian and Carrie Brown.

Democratic Party chronicles community projects
The Watauga County Democratic Party recently released information about its volunteer efforts in the local area.

For example, a Meals on Wheels route, which was started by volunteer organizer Ingrid Kraus, has been staffed since 2005, a spokesperson for the party said. Volunteers for the Cove Creek meals route are currently recruited and scheduled by Dorothy Sagel, who is also an officer for the Watauga County Democratic Women's Club.

Faisuly Scheurer, current chair of the party's community outreach effort, took over her leadership role a year ago, and has organized Habitat for Humanity "work Saturdays" (with lunches provided free by members of the party), as well as Hospitality House dinners cooked monthly and served at the shelter, and the Christmas adoption of both a Colombian family and "Leftover Angels" from a local church gift project.

Recently, the party began bringing canned goods and boxes of cereal for the Hunger Coalition to every monthly meeting. About 100 pounds were collected on Dec. 8 (next collection will be Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Boone Town Council chambers).

Currently, the Young Democrats of Watauga County has adopted a portion of the South Fork of the New River for regular cleanups.

Those who would like to volunteer can e-mail ( or (

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