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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 19, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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most of the weekend looks dry. that's really what everybody cares about, right? >> thank you, jeff. as a reminder, lester holt joins us next with nightly news. >> thanks for joining us. breaking news tonight. prosecutors offered to drop the charges against the billionaire owner of the new england patriots, robert kraft, accused of soliciting prostitutes in a massage parlor. what kraft has to do to get the deal. also tonight, the investigation into the air disaster as captain sully, famous for the miracle on the hudson, slams the faa and boeing. the toxic inferno still raging near houston. new concerns about that thick, black, billowing smoke as officials say they have no idea when it will end. the bizarre war of words kellyanne conway. the president calling george conway a loser after conway questioned trump's mental state. your money, your life. a mom stuck with thousands in surprise medical bills after
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surgery to remove her appendix, even when she thought her insurance would cover it. >> and each time you asked, they said -- >> yes, that they took my insurance. >> tonight, the questions you need to ask during any visit to the hospital. a new warning about a growing scam. people tricked into thinking their loved ones have been kidnapped. >> she said mom, they took me, they took me, i'm in a van, i don't know where i am. and i was just speechless. >> how the scammers make it seem so real. the warning every family should hear. and the $430 million man. the richest sports contract ever in america. what makes this guy worth all that money? >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening and welcome to our viewers in the west. a surprise development tonight leaves robert kraft and several other men facing what may be a difficult legal choice tonight after florida prosecutors suddenly offer to drop charges that the men paid for sex weeks
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after the headline-grabbing swing at florida day spas was announced. authorities are offering this other option. admit the state has enough evidence to convict them and have the case dismissed or face trial and the risk of conviction. that's not all the deal entails, as our kerry sanders reports. >> we're as equally stunned as everybody else. >> reporter: after a public announcement charging robert kraft and 24 others with soliciting prostitution, word today those charges could be dropped. the owner of the new england patriots and the others now may never have to go to court, if they accept a plea deal. in this letter prosecutors sent to each of the accused men, they would have to admit the evidence, including the videos taken would have been enough to convict them. according to the deal, by agreeing to that, the accused can avoid misdemeanor convictions, but the accused won't escape punishment. the deal requires a course about
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prostitution danger, sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment, 100 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine. if robert kraft were to accept the deal, these requirements could double because he is accused of soliciting prostitution twice on different days. will kraft accept the deal? his attorney did not respond to nbc news, though he has pleaded not guilty to the charges. richard kibbey represents some of the other men also charged in this prostitution investigation. >> there's never been a reported case like this. and as a result, we think this offer is premature. >> reporter: one question for robert kraft, would acknowledging there is evidence that could have led to his conviction impact his ownership of the patriots. the nfl is not commenting tonight, but according to the league's conduct policy, owners, like players, are held to a higher standard. the prostitution investigation began at this day spa.
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now robert kraft has nine days to either accept or reject this plea deal. if he accepts the plea deal, sources tell nbc news he himself will still have to show up in court. lester? >> all right, kerry sanders, thank you. we're joined now by nbc news legal analyst ari melber. and why would the prosecution now suddenly decide to offer a chance to drop these charges? >> they may have been using this investigation to gather evidence on human trafficking, which they haven't charged yet. here the reward in cooperation with this deferred prosecution agreement and they may be using these charges to deter others' conduct. >> hoping to hold them accountable? >> hold them accountable and very much. there are several developments tonight in that air disaster mystery. a new federal investigation as one of the most famous pilots in america is slamminat calls a cozy relationship between boeing and the faa. we get details from nbc's tom costello. >> the biggest problem of the
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day -- >> reporter: he is best known for extreme cool under pressure. >> we may be in the hudson. >> reporter: captain sully sullenberger who successfully landed a plane full of passengers on the hudson river after losing both engines says tonight our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged. and a marketwatch op-ed, sullenberger criticizes the faa for outsourcing its inspections to boeing employees, saying it has created inherent conflicts of interest when employees working for the company whose products must be certified to meet safety standards are the ones doing much of the work of certifying them. boeing is under fire for not telling pilots about a new software system called mcas that may have contributed to both crashes in ethiopia and indonesia. for decades, the faa has relied on aircraft manufacturers to help certify the planes for flight. jeff guzzetti is the former faa accident investigations chief. >> you have to rely on the
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integrity of the boeing engineers that will hopefully have the same mind for safety as they do for the success of their product. >> reporter: the faa says its air certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs. but with boeing and the faa under intense scrutiny, and a grand jury investigation, the secretary of transportation today called for the inspector general to investigate the certification process. tonight boeing is promising to cooperate. captain sully says sometimes faa inspectors who bring up specific concerns about safety are overridden by faa managers. meanwhile tonight we are seeing that there will be a new nominee. the white house nominating a ne. he is former chief of safety at delta airlines. he will be the new faa administrator. lester? >> all right. tom costello, thank you. another deadly incident under investigation tonight. police say a charter bus driver has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after his bus overturned in heavy fog,
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killing two people and injuring dozens of others on i-95 south of richmond, virginia. tonight that massive petrochemical fire outside of houston continues to rage out of control, and with growing concerns from the community about potential health effects, authorities now say they have no idea when the fire will end. nbc's gabe gutierrez is there. >> reporter: tonight it's no longer clear how long this inferno will burn. authorities had initially thought wednesday. now no timetable. the blaze intensified overnight as firefighters say they were running low on water pressure. as the sun rose, it continued to flare up, billowing into the sky. internio which owns the facility, says eight storage tanks are still burning. three others have burned out, and two empty ones collapsed. >> of course itc is very sorry that this unfortunate event. this isn't an event we wanted or planned. >> reporter:
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authorities insist the air quality is safe. is everything fine? >> no, i don't think anybody can look at it and honestly say everything is fine. >> reporter: today amanda arci was reluctant to let her kids go to school. >> they say the fire was supposed to be out tomorrow. and now they're saying they don't know. it's scary. >> reporter: even though schools here in deer park reopened today, one in five kids did not go to class. right now the plan is still to let this thing burn itself out. lester? >> all right, gabe gutierrez in texas tonight, thanks. another crisis we're following. flood warnings still in effect in at least seven states, including five major cities where a historic disaster continues to unfold. and many farmers stand to lose everything. our kathy park is in omaha. >> pretty girl. >> reporter: chad wegener and john carroll bought this 40 acre property 15 years ago. now it's a sanctuary for endangered goats, their livelihood. so when theifa
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floodwaters, they rushed in to save the animals. >> the water came in. the water came in so quick. excuse me. >> reporter: the damage to agriculture in nebraska this week estimated to be nearly a billion dollars. the latest blow to many farmers. bankruptcies in the region rising by 19% last year. from the trade war and international competition over agricultural products, to extreme weather, farmers are struggling to survive. >> as people put blood, sweat and tears day after day after day for livestock and their crops, to put food or whatever on the tables of people around the country. >> reporter: the forecast for so many farmers is uncertain. do you think you can afford to destation?cause of the >> we don't know. we don't know. >> reporter: kathy park, nbc news, omaha, nebraska. let's take you to washington now and the growing war of words between the president and the husband of kellyanne conway, an unusual feud exploding tonight
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between the boss and the spouse of one of his top advisers. peter alexander has details. >> reporter: one of washington's most bizarre feuds now coming to a boil. president trump today blasting george conway, husband of his senior adviser kellyanne conway, as a total loser after his 2020 campaign manager took a shot at george conway, tweeting he hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success. just two years ago, the conservative lawyer was a trump supporter, considered for a justice department job. bowing out, writing kellyanne and i continue to support the president. but conway's turned into one of president trump's fiercest critics, attacking, even mocking him on a daily basis. the latest suggesting the president is not mentally fit to serve, even posting from the american psychiatric association's manual of disorders, citing narcissistic personality disorder. with his need for admiration and lack of empathy adding his condition is getting worse.
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kellyanne's take on her husband's tweets? >> no, i don't share those opinions. >> it's so maddening to watch. it's so i don't end up screamin. the public has dismissed him publicly before. >> you mean mr. kellyanne conway? he is just trying to get publicity for himself. >> reporter: another trump target tonight, the late senator john mccain, the focus of critical weekend tweets from the president. nbc's kristen welker asking about it. >> why are you attacking senator john mccain seven months after his death? >> i'm very unhappy that he didn't repeal and replace obamacare. i was never a fan of john mccain, and i never will be. >> reporter: mccain's daughter meghan today retweeting one of her father's long-time aides retweeting the president as a h. there is breaking medical news tonight. the fda has just approved the u depression which affects some 400,000 women each year.
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doctors call this a game changer, and we get details from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: after the birth of her first child, stephanie hathaway knew she had more than just baby blues. >> i just thought oh my goodness, if i put the baby down, i might hurt myself. >> reporter: she was diagnosed with postpartum depression, a condition that affects one in nine women in the u.s. even using antidepressants, it took months for her to feel better. nothing was helping after the birth of her second daughter. desperate, she enrolled in a trial for a new medication called zulresso, a completely new class of drug designed specifically for postpartum depression. it's a one-time infusion given in a hospital setting for two and a half days. stephanie noticed a difference within hours. >> i woke up from a nap, and the thoughts were gone, an never came back. >> being able to treat people quickly within days is unlike >> reporter: 70% of women given the infusion improved
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significantly. 30 days later, they were still feeling good. for stephanie and her girls -- >> hadley said, "mommy, you're back." and i said, "yeah, i'm here." >> reporter: it's been life changing. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, west hartford, connecticut. now to our investigation into a growing problem across the country, so many americans hit with surprise medical bills, even if they have insurance. now as our denver affiliate kusa first uncovered, collectors are coming after people's paychecks and their homes. nbc's stephanie gosk explains how to avoid them in tonight's "your money, your life." >> reporter: racing to the emergency room, few people stop to think about the bill. not nicole briggs. suffering from appendicitis, she called first to make sure this denver hospital accepted her health plan. >> they said yep, we take your insurance. come on over. >> reporter: once there, she kept asking. and each time you asked, they said? >> yes, that they take my insurance.
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>> reporter: except no one told her the surgeon may not. two months later, the doctor sent a whopping bill. and the insurance company said she had to pay it. >> i was so frustrated with it. i thought i'm just going to let this die in collections. i'm not going to pay this. >> reporter: it didn't die. two years later, the collections company started docking her pay 25% and slapped a lien on the young mother's home. >> this is really scary. >> reporter: nbc's denver affiliate kusa investigated and discovered that since 2017, that one collection agency alone put liens on debt is paid. we found similar cases of liens in at least six states. a major factor, surprise medical bills. a recent poll found four in ten americans have received one. >> this practice is incredibly common, has become more so recently. and it affects tens, if not hundreds of thousands of
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americans every year. >> reporter: when we asked who was to blame in denver, the finger-pointing started. the doctor blamed the insurance company. the hospital blamed the doctor. >> i think there is shared responsibility for the faults in our system, which are many. >> reporter: did the hospital that nicole briggs went to have a responsibility to tell her you might actually be getting treatment from someone who is out of network? >> that is absolutely an obligation that we are willing to make as hospitals. >> reporter: the other problem is doctors charge even higher prices to patients outside of the doctor's insurance network. >> physician groups see this as a way to make extra money, really, on the backs of patients. >> reporter: so what patients do? call your insurance company to make sure the hospital and the doctors are covered.g brgs now had done. >> they've made money off of me during one of the most vulnerable days of my life. >> lester, the hospital says that it encourages the doctors to take their insurance, but
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they can't force them. while the industry tells us prices are driven up when doctors don't join their plans. meanwhile, federal legislation has been proposed to fix the problem and take patients out of the middle. >> a story what is going to ring familiar in a lot of households. stephanie, thank you very much. just ahead, the new warning about a terrifying scam tricking parents into believing their children are kidnapped. also, the new crackdown on students in that college cheating scandal. hope you can stay with us.
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next tonight, the new warning about a scam targeting families using your social media posts. nbc's gadi schwartz explains how to protect yourself from virtual kidnapping. >> reporter: it's a scam devised to stop any parent in their tracks. >> i was frantically driving to the school. i was on hold with the school. i was hanging up. i was calling back. i was screaming. >> reporter: kathy gross terror stricken as she heard what she thought was her daughter's voice.
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>> she said mom, they took me, they took me, i'm in a van. i don't know where i am. >> reporter: former olympian and commentator rowdy gaines and his family among those targeted. >> he started shouting expletives and that he was going to shoot our daughter. >> reporter: it's called virtual kidnapping and it works like this. a hoaxer calls your phone using information from your own social media to convince you one of your loved ones has been taken. they try to keep you on the phone and make you wire them money before you ever realize that your child has been safe the entire time. >> that's all that really mattered. >> that's all that really mattered to us that she was safe. >> reporter: police are saying if a call like this does come in, hang up immediately, call police, and never say your loved one's name or give out information that could be used to trick you into thinking the hoax is real. the terrifying racket becoming more common, emanating from prisons in mexico leaving little recourse for investigators. >> it's traumatizing at a pretty high level. >> reporter: the best line of protection, stay calm and be
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aware that odds are your family is safe. gadi schwartz, nbc news. we'll take a break here. up next, more bad news for students in that massive college scandal.
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we're back now with a new crackdown on students whose parents are accused of bribing their way into some of america's top colleges. here is joe fryer. >> reporter: usc is now taking action against students who might be tied to the college admissions scandal. the university says it's placing holds on their accounts. they can't register for classes or get transcripts while their cases are under review, but the school won't say how many students this impacts. actress lori loughlin and her husband daughters into usc. >> it looks bad on the rest of the students here. >> yeah. >> if th tha jpaid to get in. >> reporter: at wake forest university, where the women's volleyball coach is accused of accepting a bribe to help one student get in, the school says that student is still enrolled, adding at this time, we do not plan to take any action against
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her when there is no evidence she had any knowledge of the alleged financial transaction. and today uc berkeley confirmed it's looking into allegations one of its former students is linked to the alleged scheme. in all, 50 people face federal charges, with many due in court next week, including actress felicity huffman. do you expect parents, coaches, some of those who have already been charged might be looking for a plea deal? >> certainly. anybody who pleads guilty early gets a benefit from doing that. but the earlier you do that, sometimes you can get even more of an extraordinary benefit. >> reporter: even what a plea expert, expert says jail time is a possibility for those accused of cheating the system. joe fryer, nbc news. up next, meet the new highest paid athlete in history. r
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weed killer gave a man cancer. what it means for the thousands who say it gave them cancer too. also -- he stepped on a sea urchin and went to urgent care. then -- he says he was charged $700 for a pair of disposable slippers. we invegtiaget this south bay care urgent care center.
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that )s and now the baseball star on the verge of signing the biggest contract in american history. here is ron mott. >> reporter: he may not be a household name like lebron, brady or serena, but tonight an l.a. angel has reached heights even those legends can't match. mike trout, seven-time all-star, two-time american league mvp is reportedly about to hook the biggest contract ever in north american professional sports. >> never ceases to amaze! >> reporter: numbers truly out of the park. a 12-year contract worth $430 million, according to espn. 100 million more than the previous record for fellow baseball star bryce harper. $155 million more than a-rod got 12 years ago. >> it's crazy money. i'd love to play baseball for a fraction of that. >> he deserves every penny. >> reporter: while lebron has taken over l.a. why do i have to pick up the check? >> because you're lebron james.
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>> reporter: mike trout is a reserved superstar. >> it's everything i expected and more. a dream come true. >> reporter: baseball's best cashing in on a dream. ron mott, nbc news. >> what can we say but wow. that's "nightly news." i'm lester holt. thanks for watching and good night.right now at 6: they obviously were taking advantage of people and looking more at the much than the care of the people. $16,000 for a penicillin shot? the urgent care center in the south bay facing fraud charges. storm ranger mobile weather radar shows the wet weather returning. no charges filed. we're tracking news where larry baer learns his fate after this public altercation with his wife. the news at 6:00 starts right
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now. good evening. thank you for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm raj mathai. legally, he is off the hook, but in the court of public opinion. larry baer has an image and career that needs rebuilding. he won't face any criminal charges, but he still might be penalized by major league baseball. in a story we broke two hours ago he will not face charges. we are joined by jean elle with the developing story. jean? >> reporter: raj, this is the plaza where that altercation was caught on videotape. and tonight the district attorney says it will not be filing criminal charges against larry baer. the san francisco police department and district attorney launched an investigation into baer's action after "tmz sports" bought this video of baer and his


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