News briefs from around Tennessee at 1:58 a.m. EDT

The Associated PressJuly 17, 2014 

FedEx charged with assisting illegal pharmacies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal authorities on Thursday charged FedEx with assisting illegal pharmacies by knowingly delivering painkillers and dangerous drugs to customers without prescriptions.

The indictment filed in federal court in San Francisco alleges that FedEx Corp. conspired with two related online pharmacies for 10 years ending in 2010.

The Department of Justice announced the charges in Washington, D.C. It wants FedEx to forfeit $820 million it says the cargo company earned by assisting the illicit pharmacies.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based delivery company is accused of shipping powerful sleeping aid Ambien, anti-anxiety medications Valium and Xanax, and other drugs to customers who had no legitimate medical need and lacked valid prescriptions.

FedEx insists it did nothing wrong. The world's largest cargo company says it handles 10 million packages a day and shouldn't be in charge of "assuming criminal responsibility" for every delivery.

"We will plead not guilty. We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees," company spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald said in a written statement.

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Risk of earthquake increased for one-third of US

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about one-third of the United States and lowers it for one-tenth.

The U.S. Geological Survey on Thursday updated its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor.

The maps are used for building codes and insurance purposes and they calculate just how much shaking an area probably will have in the biggest quake likely over a building's lifetime.

The highest risk places have a 2 percent chance of experiencing "very intense shaking" over a 50-year lifespan, USGS project chief Mark Petersen said. Those with lower hazard ratings would experience less intense swaying measured in gravitational force.

"These maps are refining our views of what the actual shaking is," Petersen said. "Almost any place in the United States can have an earthquake."

Parts of 16 states have the highest risk for earthquakes: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina. With the update, new high-risk areas were added to some of those states.

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Man shot at West Tenn. park was Iraq war veteran

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — An Iraq war veteran who was fatally shot by police at a West Tennessee park had sought care at the Memphis VA Medical Center for an undisclosed reason, officials said Thursday.

Justin Neil Davis, 24, was holding a rifle when he was shot by three officers in a park in the Memphis suburb of Germantown on Tuesday night, according to police.

Police said they had received a message from authorities in neighboring Fayette County that Davis was armed and dangerous and possibly suicidal before he was found in a vehicle at the park. The area was evacuated and police began talking to Davis by phone and a police car public-address system.

Davis, who had a rifle, then "escalated" the situation, and three officers fired their weapons, police said. David died at the scene.

Germantown police have not said how Davis escalated the situation. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A bureau spokesman declined comment.

Davis, who went to high school in Germantown, was a private in the Kentucky Army National Guard from January 2008 to November 2012, according to Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He served in Iraq as a vehicle mechanic from February 2010 to June of the same year and received several awards, including the Army Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, officials said.

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Report: FBI quizzing people about meningitis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — FBI agents have been interviewing Tennessee residents sickened or widowed by fungal meningitis as part of a criminal probe into the outbreak that sickened 751 people nationwide with 64 deaths.

The Tennessean reported (http://tnne.ws/1tV5tcR) that agents in recent weeks have spoken with some of those sickened.

The outbreak was traced to contaminated steroid medicine made by Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center that was used in spinal injections as pain treatment. Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is leading the investigation.

Tennessee was the second-hardest hit state, with 153 illnesses and 16 deaths. Michigan had 264 illnesses and 19 deaths.

No charges have been filed, but hundreds of people have filed civil suits against NECC, which has filed for bankruptcy, and its owners.

Joan Peay of Nashville, who survived one round of fungal meningitis in 2012 only to relapse with a more severe case a year later, said she met Tuesday with an FBI agent from Massachusetts.

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