Charlotte, NC

Cloudy Tuesday in Charlotte: $7M Ponzi scheme, possible Medicaid expansion, Hurricanes hope for road win

Collin Cunningham

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) For residents of the Queen City, Tuesday sets a cloudy and windy precedent as temperatures crest from the mid-60s to a midday high of 76 around 4 p.m. before sinking again. The Charlotteans who lost power during Monday night's storms should have electricity returned by the morning of Tuesday, May 24.

Speaking of setting, a Charlotte man is accused of defrauding private investors of over $7 million by setting them up in a Ponzi scheme, while Republican senators in North Carolina are considering a rare move: expanding the state's Medicaid coverage to more residents. The Carolina Hurricanes are hoping to break a precedent in tonight's Stanley Cup playoff match against the New York Rangers by winning on the road. Helping set a summer precedent for readers is our water sports report, where we'll share the best spots for tubing, fishing and other aquatic activities.

1. Lifestyle litigation: Charlotte man charged with stealing $7M in Ponzi scheme

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Investors found themselves with some serious sunk costs after Charlotte financier Wynn Charlebois defrauded them over $7M in a Ponzi scheme.(Maxim Hopman/Unsplash)

What happened: Between Feb. 5 of 2019 and April 30 of 2022, roughly 75 private investors poured over $7.1 million into accounts belonging to Wynn Charlebois, a Charlotte resident who is accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of lying about loans to obtain that money. Instead of buying shares in Fortune 500 companies, the SEC alleges that Charlebois instead spent those investors' dollars on room, board and tuition for his children at private schools and colleges.

Charlebois earmarked some of the money for personal mortgage payments and family vacations under the guise that lenders would share in the profits from entirely fabricated business ventures, according to an SEC press release dated Thursday. The commission now appeals the matter to a district court in North Carolina, which will decide what further action should be taken.

Why it matters: If successful in bringing its complaint to a judge, the SEC would successfully freeze Charlebois' assets in the hopes of returning them to the people he defrauded, instead of using the cash to fund his "lavish lifestyle."

2. NC GOP: Senators mull major Medicaid expansion

What's happening: Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians could gain access to the federal government's subsidized health care program if Republicans in the state Senate have their way. GOP lawmakers are preparing to file a bill that would reduce the income threshold for residents of the Tar Heel State to access various medical services for cheap or even free.

Why it matters: The bill's tentative filing would represent a major sea change for right-leaning members of the state's governing body, which is one of 12 yet to take up the Affordable Care Act's clause for expansion. That would anyone who earns $17,774 or less annually eligible for Medicaid, allowing them to access inpatient and outpatient services, physician support, laboratory work like x-rays and in-home assistance.

Why opinions shifted: Republicans who were previously wary of adopting the ACA's expansion edict may have changed their minds due to a section of the American Rescue Plan Act promising $1.5 billion to states that expand via the ACA. Under the proposed coverage increase, North Carolina's population of Medicaid recipients would swell from 2.7 to 3.3 million. It's likely that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could result in further measures to encourage expansion, per North Carolina Health News.

3. Curse of the road: Can Hurricanes pull out first away win of playoffs against Rangers?

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Clad in the 21 jersey here, the Carolina Hurricanes' Nino Niederreiter scored the team's only goal of Sunday's New York Rangers matchup.(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Tuesday at 7 p.m. marks the fourth match between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as the 'Canes hope to break an away game losing streak that's haunted the team since the start of the tournament.

When we last stuck our heads in the cyclone on Friday, the Hurricanes had managed to humor the Rangers 2-1 in an initial match. The overall series stands at 2-1, Hurricanes after the Carolina team won 2-0 on Friday before the Rangers ransacked the 'Canes 3-1 on Sunday.

The only Hurricanes hurrah in that game came courtesy of right wing Nino Niederreiter, who scored 3 previous goals across a pair of games against the Boston Bruins in the previous round. If the Hurricanes can win at Madison Square Garden tonight, they would have the chance the wrap the series at home, playing New York at PNC Arena on Thursday. Readers can tune into tonight's game via the streaming options listed on this page or find tickets to Game 5 starting at $132 here.

4. Water sports report: Where to float and boat new Charlotte this summer

This week's 70-degree highs might be worse for roaming the waves than last week's weather, but the warmth is just revving up in Charlotte as the official start of summer approaches on June 21. Charlotte may lack the beaches of Myrtle and the Outer Banks to the east, but the Catawba River and the U.S. National Whitewater Center built aside it, as well as the following options, will help readers take a dip when the sun is shining.

Tubing

  • Catawba River — Rockin' River Adventures promises a cruise down the Catawba in what it calls a "top of the line Texas River Run Tube" constructed of PVC for rates of $25 per person. In addition to one- and two-person boats, Catawba Kayak Co. also offers tubing on the river, three lakes and the South Fork River.
  • Green River — A bit of a drive from Charlotte, the 92-mile trek westward is worth it to reach Green River Cove Tubing, which has been shepherding inner tube aficionados down the colorful body of water for over four decades.

Fishing

  • Copperhead Island — A park located alongside the Catawba, Copperhead Island's fishing jetties help residents and visitors alike enjoy a weekend of relaxation. Kayakers and campers will also find something to enjoy with lodging sites and waterfront access.
  • Rocky River Nature Preserve Readers looking to cast rods into a still body of water or a smaller tributary like a creek can do so at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve on Rocky River Road, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The preserve opens at 1 p.m. and closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday but remains open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Scuba diving

  • Travel options — While Charlotte is lacking in deep waters to practice scuba diving and snorkeling, multiple agencies offer travel packages, classes and supplies for would-be divers and experienced swimmers alike. Both Open Water Adventures and Scuba Charlotte have openings for tropical trips to Cozumel in Mexico and Bonaire in the Caribbean as well as available training sessions for first-timers to learn the basics of entering the deep.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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