Little-Known Lawyer, a Trump Ally, Draws Scrutiny in Georgia

The U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, on March 8, 2023. (Hailey Sadler/The New York Times)

The U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, on March 8, 2023. (Hailey Sadler/The New York Times)

ATLANTA — At a Georgia state Senate hearing a few weeks after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, Rudy Giuliani began making outlandish claims. “There are 10 ways to demonstrate that this election was stolen, that the votes were phony, that there were a lot of them — dead people, felons, phony ballots,” he told the assembled legislators.

After Giuliani’s testimony, a like-minded Georgia lawyer named Robert Cheeley presented video clips of election workers handling ballots at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. Cheeley spent 15 minutes laying out specious assertions that the workers were double- and triple-counting votes, saying their actions “should shock the conscience of every red blooded Georgian” and likening what he said had happened to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

His comments mostly flew under the radar at the time, overshadowed by the election fraud claims made by Giuliani, who was then Trump’s personal lawyer, and by other higher-profile figures. But Cheeley’s testimony did not end up in the dustbin. He was among witnesses questioned last year by a special grand jury in Atlanta that investigated election interference by Trump and his allies, the grand jury’s forewoman, Emily Kohrs, said in an interview last month.

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The fact that Cheeley was called to appear before the special grand jury adds to the evidence that although the Atlanta investigation has focused on Trump’s biggest areas of legal exposure — calls he made to pressure local officials and his involvement in a scheme to draft bogus presidential electors — false claims made by his allies at legislative hearings have also been of significant interest. Giuliani has been told that

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Car/Animal Collisions Are Down From Previous Year

In an era when the nation’s roads seem to be getting more dangerous – with traffic deaths reaching a 16-year high in 2021 – here’s a glimmer of more positive news. State Farm says the number of car collisions with animals are down this reporting period, according to its accident claims.  

State Farm says an estimated 1.9 million car/animal collisions occurred on U.S. roads between July 2021 and June 2022. That’s a 5.5 percent drop than the previous 12-month period in State Farm’s annual analysis – a period in which it reported an increase in car/animal collisions during the pandemic.

While these collisions can happen year-round, the fall months are particularly dangerous, with the most dangerous months for animal collisions are November, October and December, in this order.

Looking at the state with the most animal collisions claims,  that would be Pennsylvania with an estimated total industry animal collisions count of 156,176 claims. That’s put the likelihood that 1 out of 57 for licensed drivers will hit an animal while behind the wheel.  The animals most commonly hit by motorists in PA were deer (by far), “unidentified animals” and rodents, in this order.

Claims aside, the state where drivers have the highest likelihood of hitting an animal is West Virginia, with a probability of 1 in 35. There, the animals most likely to be hit by drivers are deer (by far), followed by “unidentified animals,” and by dogs, in this order.

State Farm says these two different state rankings differ because for the likelihood or probability of animal collisions state ranking, both the number of license drivers and the total number of animal collisions in each state affect the calculation, while for the industry claims ranking only the first variable (number of claims) matters.

State Farm says

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Essential Facts About Rental Car Insurance Policies

A car rental agency is naturally protective of its assets. People may not drive as carefully in a car they don’t own, which leads to accidents. Because the agency needs the damage repaired or the car replaced, it generally recommends renters buy its provided insurance policy.

When you rent a car, though, you may wonder if you need to buy this policy or if your existing policy will cover the rental.

“The answer is yes and no,” said State Farm agent Pam Hansen Alfred. “Are you renting in the U.S.? At State Farm, we don’t extend coverage to any country except Canada and 25 miles into Mexico. Otherwise, the way it works is, if you have comprehensive and collision on a vehicle, that coverage will extend to the rental car if you have a claim.”

For instance, Alfred recently had a client whose rental car was stolen, a situation that a comprehensive policy would pay for after a deductible. Similarly, if you were in an accident or your windshield was damaged, the cost of any repairs would be covered after you paid your deductible.

Beyond these situations, though, you should discuss a couple of unique areas of car rental insurance with your agent to ensure you’re covered.

Loss of use

While your insurance will cover damage to your rental car, you may be on the hook for other expenses if a car rental agency experiences loss of use.

“If you wreck a vehicle and they can’t rent it out, they charge you for the amount of time it is in the shop as though you were still renting it,” Alfred said. “This cost would not automatically be covered by your car insurance. But you can add a coverage under your State Farm policy called unowned auto liability and

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Insurance company sues owner of vacant lot where the Balch Springs grass fire started

The insurance company for three Balch Springs homeowners whose properties were damaged in a July 25 grass fire is suing the owner of the vacant lot where the fire started.

State Farm Lloyds, the insurance company for Edgar Cruz, Mario Thompson and Miguel Quinonez, filed the lawsuit Friday in Dallas County to recover the amount it paid out on their claims — at least $1 million — from Sikka Investments.

Multiple phone calls made to numbers listed for Sikka Investments were not returned Tuesday.

The three homeowners lived on Broadview and Elm Point drives in the Spring Ridge subdivision, the neighborhood adjacent to the 67-acre lot where the fire started.

Sikka Investments had a citation to appear in court over a code violation for tall grass and hired mowers to cut the grass — later described as “a heavy amount of fuel” — during the notably dry summer. The fire started, authorities said, when a mower blade sparked against a sharp object and ignited the field.

“And once ignited, there’s just a whole lot of material to burn at that point,” Balch Springs Fire Marshal Sean Davis said in August.

The fire spreads quickly and damaged 27 homes, destroying nine of them. The lawsuit says the three residents’ homes were destroyed or damaged to the point they were uninhabitable.

At the time of the fire, authorities estimated total property damage exceeded $6 million.

Doug Heuvel, an attorney representing State Farm Lloyds, expected other insurers will join the lawsuit.

Sikka Investments owns five similar vacant lots across Dallas County, according to appraisal records. One of the similar properties in Irving is the site of a code violation issued in August for “grass/weeds in excess of 10 inches.”

Documents show the group also had at least one code violation — issued in

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