Georgia doctor pleads guilty in opioid ring

ATLANTA — A former Georgia medical examiner has pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to prescribe opioids in exchange for sex.

A statement released Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Atlanta says Dr. Joseph L. Burton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute drugs.

The 73-year-old man from Milton Georgia, is a former county medical examiner and forensic pathologist. Burton handled cases from seven counties.

Burton and seven other people were indicted in February. Prosecutors say he prescribed about 110,000 doses of opioid painkillers in exchange for sexual favors and affection.

Three of Burton’s co-defendants are women accused of having sexual relationships with him in exchange for prescriptions. Authorities say they would fill the prescriptions and then sell the drugs. Five others have also pleaded guilty.

Burton’s sentencing is Aug. 29.

Ex-Alabama guard sentenced for sexual contact with inmate

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A federal judge has sentenced a former guard at an Alabama women’s prison to 1 years behind bars for having sexual contact with an inmate and lying about it while he worked there.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, in a news release, says U.S. District Judge Virginia E. Hopkins sentenced 28-year-old Jesse Bailey, of Carrolton, Alabama, Tuesday on one count each of abusive sexual contact and making false statements to the government. Bailey pleaded guilty in December.

Bailey worked as a corrections officer at the Federal Correctional Institution at Aliceville from January 2015 to August 2016.

In January 2016, Bailey was assigned to the prison dorm where the victim was housed and soon began a flirtation with her that resulted in the sexual act inside a staff bathroom.

State approves tourism zone expansion

MEMPHIS — The Tennessee Building Commission has approved Memphis’ $125 million plan to expand its Downtown tourism zone.

The Commercial Appeal reported the expansion and redevelopment of Mud Island was approved Tuesday. It will include an aquarium. The city hopes to bring the Brooks Museum to a new Riverfront Cultural Center connected to the island by a pedestrian bridge. The project was initially estimated to cost $225 million. Housing and Community Development Director Paul Young has said the project will be paid for by sales taxes collected by the zone, donations and private investment.

The project is part of the Bicentennial Gateway Project that aims to redesign the Interstate 40 gateway into downtown. City Chief Operations Officer Doug McGowen said the city hopes to complete the aquarium in 2023.

Middle Tennessee State, Chinese group eye ginseng institute

MURFREESBORO — Middle Tennessee State University says it has struck an agreement with its research partner in China to for a joint ginseng institute.

An MTSU news release Tuesday says the institute will study, develop and promote Tennessee-grown herbal products to sell in Asia and other emerging markets.

MTSU President Sidney McPhee and Miao Jianhua, director of the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, signed an agreement during McPhee’s trip through China.

The International Ginseng Institute will spin off from the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research at MTSU.

Jianhua says the garden plans to spend about $30 million in August to build a new lab at the Nanning complex.

Ginseng is popular with people who have colds or the flu or who have suppressed immune systems.

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