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Ohio Archives for 2016-02

4 Hurt in Shooting at Ohio School; Suspect in Custody

 

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (AP) -- A 14-year-old boy pulled out a gun in a southwestern Ohio school cafeteria on Monday and opened fire, hitting two students, authorities said.

 

 

Two other Madison Local Schools students were injured in another way. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

 

The shooter ran from the school, threw the gun down and was apprehended nearby, authorities said. Jones said the 14-year-old was a student and there was a motive to the shooting which he did not identify.

 

Students were eating in the cafeteria when the shooting happened around 11:30 a.m., Jones said.

 

Thirteen-year-old Shelby Kinnin said she heard "a couple of bangs" and realized she was near the shooter.

"I didn't really know it was gunshots until I looked over and a kid was grabbing his leg and falling over," she said.

 

Many people ran from the scene, and the shooter went out a door, she said. She recognized him as a boy who was in a class with her last year, though she wasn't sure of his name.

 

Her stepmother, Stephanie Kinnin, said it was unnerving to see emergency responders swarm the school.

 

"There is no feeling like that in the world," she said. "But my eyes found the children walking out looking for parents, and that was heartbreaking. Their eyes just told the story."

 

The students who were shot were 14 and 15 years old and were taken to a hospital, investigators said. It was unclear how the students who weren't shot got hurt, Jones said.

 

"We don't know if it was from the shooting or from exiting the school or because of the shrapnel from the bullets hitting into that small of an area," Jones said.

 

Students who were in the cafeteria at the time said they didn't immediately recognize the sounds as gunshots. Some students ran outside to a field before being brought back inside.

 

A sheriff's deputy stationed in the school had just been in the cafeteria, Jones said.

 

All other students were safe, according to the school website. The school, which had practiced for such an event, immediately went into lockdown, said district spokeswoman A.J. Huff.

 

The district was dismissing students from the junior high and senior high schools as quickly as possible following the shooting. Authorities were releasing students in groups of two or three.

 

The campus is near Middletown, roughly 30 miles north of Cincinnati. State records show enrollment of about 250 junior high and 500 high school students.

 

The Butler County sheriff asked people to stay away from the school until the scene was cleared, and nearby roads were blocked.

 

Two medical helicopters were called to the scene.

 

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Final Defendant Pleads in Ohio Egg Farm Trafficking Case

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- The last of four defendants indicted together on federal charges for a human-trafficking ring that lured Guatemalan migrants to work at Ohio egg farms has pleaded guilty.

 

Ohio Court

 

Twenty-two-year-old Ana Angelica Pedro Juan entered her plea Monday in Toledo to federal labor trafficking conspiracy. She and the others were indicted last year on charges related to forcing workers, some as young as 14, to live in dilapidated trailers and work long hours doing difficult, dirty jobs on egg farms in Marion. Eight minors and two adults were identified as victims of a trafficking conspiracy.

 

Some of the victims were unaccompanied minors who had arrived at the border. Authorities say Pedro Juan told government officials they were family friends and would be attending school so they'd be released to her custody.

 

Her attorney declined to comment Monday. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

 

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The Latest: Brother in Ohio Pastor's Shooting Sued Him Over Money

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- The Latest on the fatal shooting of an Ohio pastor (all times local):

 

3:15 p.m.

The man being held in the fatal shooting of his pastor brother at an Ohio church sued the minister over an inheritance dispute five years ago.

 

Police in Dayton say suspect Daniel Schooler is the brother of the Rev. William B. Schooler. The pastor died Sunday at St. Peter's Missionary Baptist Church.

 

Court records show Daniel Schooler sued his brother and church leaders in 2011, saying he was owed money from the real estate value of the church.

 

A court ruled against Daniel Schooler's claim.

Police have said they don't know what led to the shooting.

 

A relative told the Dayton Daily News that Daniel Schooler has a history of mental illness.

 

The newspaper also reports that Daniel Schooler shot his nephew in the arm in 2001, but the nephew didn't want to press charges.

 

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7:15 a.m.

Authorities investigating the slaying of a southwest Ohio pastor expect to charge his brother in the fatal shooting that occurred at the pastor's church office as services were winding down.

 

Dayton police say the Rev. William B. Schooler was shot around 12:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Peter's Missionary Baptist Church.

 

The 70-year-old pastor's brother was arrested at the church and taken to the Montgomery County jail. Police say they expect 68-year-old Daniel Gregory Schooler will face a murder charge Monday.

Jail records don't list an attorney for Schooler.

 

Police said they did not know Sunday what led to the shooting, but said the pastor was the only intended victim.

 

The brothers' niece, Joyce Napier, told the Dayton Daily News that Daniel Schooler has a history of mental illness.

 

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New Twist in Ohio Addiction Crisis: Deadly Painkiller Impostors

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Authorities are sounding the alarm about a new and deadly twist in the country's drug-addiction crisis in the form of a potent painkiller disguised as other medications.

 

Drugs

 

Tennessee officials say they've seen two dozen cases in recent months of pills marked as the less potent opiates oxycodone or Percocet that turned out to contain fentanyl, a far more powerful drug. One official likened the danger to users playing Russian roulette each time they buy a pill on the street.

 

In San Francisco, the health department blamed several overdoses last summer on lookalike Xanax containing fentanyl, while Canada has issued warnings about multiple recent cases of lookalike oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

 

And in suburban Cleveland, federal agents arrested a man this month after seizing more than 900 fentanyl pills marked like oxycodone tablets.

 

"These pills are truly a fatal overdose waiting to happen," said Carole Rendon, acting U.S. attorney in Cleveland.

 

Because fentanyl is cheap to manufacture illicitly, dealers see a chance to make more money by disguising it as oxycodone, which typically can sell for more, she said.

 

Lookalike pills were likely to blame for some of the county's 19 fentanyl-related overdose deaths that came just in January alone, said Dr. Thomas Gilson, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner.

 

"People might otherwise say, 'I know I can abuse this much of oxycodone,' and they may be in for a really, really bad surprise when they find out that's fentanyl and not oxycodone," Gilson said.

 

The drug, typically used for treatment of chronic pain in end-stage cancer patients, is 25 to 40 times more powerful than heroin. Properly prescribed, it's often applied through a skin patch. Fentanyl produced for the illegal street market comes from Mexico, while chemically similar components have been traced to China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

 

In a second Ohio indictment, federal authorities have charged a man with obtaining fentanyl from China that killed an addict to whom it was sold in Akron.

The DEA says fentanyl-related overdoses killed more than 700 people nationwide between late 2013 and early 2015.

 

Mimicry of other drugs is one way fentanyl is now being illicitly marketed, the agency said.

 

"The fact that fentanyl has been found in this form should hopefully make people nervous that do abuse these types of opiate pills, that they could be getting their hands on something even more lethal," said DEA spokesman Rich Isaacson.

 

China announced in October it would regulate the sale and distribution of 116 chemical compounds used in the production of synthetic drugs, including acetyl-fentanyl.

 

The problem of lookalike fentanyl comes as the country struggles to contain a drug overdose epidemic that began with illegal use of prescription painkillers and developed into a heroin crisis.

 

Ohio experienced 502 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, up from 84 the year before. In all, 2,482 people in Ohio died from accidental overdoses in 2014, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.

 

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses rose again in 2014, driven by surges in deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers. Overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 47,000 - up 7 percent from the previous year.

Heroin deaths also continued to climb, by 28 percent to about 10,500.

 

Despite these statistics and the danger of lookalike pills, addicts aren't always deterred, said Rendon, the acting U.S. attorney.

 

"When there is an overdose death, users do tend to flock to that drug dealer, because they think that he or she must have incredibly potent - either heroin or fentanyl or a combination thereof," she said.

 

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Ohio Pastor Shot, Killed on Sunday at His Church

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- The brother of a slain southwest Ohio pastor was expected to be charged Monday in the fatal shooting that occurred at the pastor's church office as services were winding down, police said.
 
 

 

 

Dayton police said Sunday that the Rev. William B. Schooler, 70, was shot around 12:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Peter's Missionary Baptist Church.

 

Dayton Church

 

The pastor's brother, 68-year-old Daniel Gregory Schooler, was arrested at the church and taken to the Montgomery County jail. . He was facing an expected murder charge on Monday, said Sgt. Richard Blommel. Calls to police Monday morning weren't immediately returned.

 

Jail records didn't list an attorney for Schooler.

"We heard pow, pow," church member Beulah Booker-Robertson said, recounting the shooting to the Dayton Daily News.

 

"The usher at the door said 'everybody get down, everybody get out.' "

 

Police said they did not know Sunday what led to the shooting, but said the pastor was the only intended victim.

 

The brothers' niece, Joyce Napier, told the newspaper that Daniel Schooler has a history of mental illness.

 

"I would think it has to be something's going on in his head to do something like that, because we were raised to love," she told the newspaper.

 

William Schooler also was a past interim president of the Dayton school board and current president of the local Baptist ministers union.

 

He taught in the Dayton school district in the 1970s and served as a principal in the Jefferson Township district for nearly two decades, according to the Daily News. He also held other positons with community organizations and local governments, including serving as a certified city of Dayton mediator.

 

"He had deep roots in the community," a friend, Ronnie Moreland, told the newspaper.

 

Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams told the Daily News he had discussed with Schooler ways to reduce violence in the community.

 

"For him to be a victim of violence is just extremely saddening," Williams said.

 
 

 

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Longaberger Leaving Basket-Shaped Headquarters in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The basket-shaped Ohio building that was headquarters for the Longaberger Co. will be emptied as the basket maker moves remaining staff to a manufacturing plant.
 
The office in Newark was known as the "Big Basket."
 
Basket
 
The Columbus Dispatch reports CEO John Rochon Jr. told employees in a company email that he always thought it would be smart to have employees in one place but wanted to assess how important the "Big Basket" was to the sales team.
 
It's not clear what will happen to the distinctive building. The Licking County auditor says foreclosure on the property is possible if the delinquent taxes aren't paid.
 
Employees are moving to the company's plant in Frazeysburg.
 

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Cleveland Police Reform Panel Picks up Pace After Slow Start

 

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Members of a volunteer commission responsible for making recommendations about how Cleveland police officers treat citizens say the panel is finding its footing after a rocky start.

 

The creation of an independent Community Police Commission is included in an agreement called a consent decree between Cleveland and the U.S. Justice Department to reform a department that the DOJ concluded had engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights.

 

Cleveland

 

Rhonda Williams, an outspoken civil rights activist and history professor at Case Western Reserve University, is one of three co-chairs of the commission and has emerged as its de facto leader. Problems at the start weren't unexpected, she said.

 

"It's not a conflict-free process," Williams said. "Nor should it be."

 

Citizen groups have been formed in other cities with DOJ agreements, but only Seattle and Cleveland have consent decrees that require the formation of police commissions to help drive reform efforts.

 

Cleveland's consent decree, which is expected to cost the city $11 million in the first year of implementation, is administered by an independent monitor who leads a team of experts on policing issues. The monitor answers to U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., who has broad powers to enforce provisions in the 105-page agreement approved last June.

 

The consent decree required that the 13-member police commission, which was sworn in last September, have a diverse membership that represents minority communities, activists, faith-based organizations and civil rights groups.

 

Ten members were chosen by a selection committee appointed by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. The other three members are Cleveland police officers selected by their respective unions. While commission terms are four years, the police department is expected to operate under the consent decree for at least five years.

 

Commission members said in interviews recently that early struggles could be attributed to a group of relative strangers learning together how to create an organization out of whole cloth. One member quit because of the time demands; there were personality clashes and bickering among some commissioners; and it quickly became apparent that the commission needed more outside help to organize itself and proceed with the work.

 

Matthew Barge, the court-appointed monitor, said the commission has been finding its "sea legs" and agreed that it needed more resources at the onset. That problem is expected to be resolved in the coming weeks after approval of a city budget that gives the commission $750,000 for 2016 to hire staff and to pay for consultants and policing experts.

 

The most discordant voice on the commission has belonged to Steve Loomis, president of Cleveland's largest police union. In an interview last week, he once again called the commission a "farce" and complained that Williams and other black activists on the panel are "anti-police."

 

"They can at least have the appearance of some form of impartiality," Loomis said.

 

Williams said she's an "unapologetic advocate for police reform."

 

"I am more than willing to work with reform-minded police officers who want to work toward progressive change," Williams said.

 

Williams said police reform is an emotional issue and added that the commission is doing good work and is committed to making "impactful change."

 

At a commission meeting on Wednesday, which Loomis did not attend, no anti-police bias was evident during a discussion about use-of-force policies in the face of a mid-March deadline to submit initial recommendations and a summary of citizen comments.

The three youngest members of the commission - all of whom are black and were selected for their perspectives on the often hostile relationship that exists between Cleveland officers and the black community, expressed genuine interest in hearing not only from residents about police use of force, but also from police officers.

 

In Seattle, problems persist three years after its police commission formed, said Barge, the Cleveland monitor who is also a member of the Seattle monitoring team. The Seattle commission has struggled to "fully represent the diversity of views within the community," Barge said. He cited the Seattle commission's opposition to police body cameras despite a community survey that showed overwhelming support for their use.

 

"It has been disappointing to many within the community that the commission has, at times, been more concerned about politics than truly collaborating with stakeholders to achieve real-world, common-sense reforms," Barge said.

 

He praised Cleveland's commission for focusing on reform since its inception.

 

Lee Fisher, a former Ohio legislator, attorney general and lieutenant governor, is the elder statesman on the commission and leads a committee that is preparing recommendations on bias-free policing. Fisher expressed frustrations about the lack of resources and time demands, but thinks the commission's efforts will ultimately help make the Cleveland police department a model for the world.

 

"Our goal should be nothing short of that," he said.

 

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Trial Set for Dad of Ohio Girl Found Dead in Crib

 

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) -- A new trial date has been set for the father of a 21-month-old Ohio girl whose decomposed body was found in a crib.

 

Courtroom Ohio

 

Thirty-five-year-old Eric Warfel is scheduled for trial May 23 on charges including corpse abuse, tampering with evidence and other offenses. Warfel had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but was found competent to stand trial.

 

Ember Warfel's body was discovered in July by a cable company worker in a Medina (meh-DY'-nuh) apartment. Prosecutors say Ember's autopsy has been completed but the coroner hasn't ruled on a cause of death.

 

The Medina County coroner has said the final report has taken unusually long because of the level of decomposition.

 

Warfel had another daughter who died in 2013. That was ruled a "sudden unexplained infant death."

 

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Judge Rejects Profiling Suit Against Border Patrol in Ohio

 

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing U.S. Border Patrol agents who watch over Ohio near the Canadian border of routinely engaging in racial profiling to round up Hispanics.

 

The judge in Toledo ruled this week that there is no evidence the Border Patrol along Lake Erie had policies encouraging racial profiling.

 

BP Boat

 

U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary said race didn't play a role in the eight encounters with agents cited in the lawsuit.

 

Two groups that work with Hispanics and migrant workers in Ohio sued the Border Patrol over what they say was a pattern of profiling over six years.

 

They also accused agents of using racially offensive and "dehumanizing" terms to describe Hispanics. An attorney with the U.S. Justice Department said the terms were used to describe immigration status and did not refer to a specific group.

 

The judge determined a few of examples of agents using offensive terms were not enough to support claims of racial profiling.

 

The evidence, at most, showed "a handful of distasteful incidents," Zouhary wrote in his decision, issued Wednesday.

 

The Justice Department said the agency's statistics did not back up the claims of discrimination.

 

The lawsuit brought by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Immigrant Worker Project focused on border agents who patrol the Lake Erie region between Toledo and Cleveland, including the 100-mile border that crosses through the lake.

 

The agency opened an office in the area in 2009 after determining that section of the border was essentially unguarded.

 

The groups suing the agents said the profiling began soon after the office opened.

 

Several people testified at trial last summer that agents lacked the needed suspicion or were motivated by race to stop them, leaving them feeling intimidated.

 

A message seeking comment on the suit's dismissal was left with John Murray, an attorney representing the two groups.

 

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Cleveland Surgeons Perform Nation's First Uterus Transplant

 

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Surgeons in Cleveland say they have performed the nation's first uterus transplant, a new frontier that aims to give women who lack wombs a chance at pregnancy.

 

Transplanted

 

In a statement Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic said the nine-hour surgery was performed a day earlier on a 26-year-old woman, using a uterus from a deceased donor.

 

The hospital had long been planning for such a surgery, announcing last fall that it would attempt 10 such transplants in a clinical trial. The hospital said it wouldn't release any more details about the transplant until a press conference next week.

 

Other countries have tried womb transplants - and Sweden reported the first successful birth in 2014, with a total of five healthy babies so far

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VA Disciplines 2 Officials in Cincinnati Center Probe

 

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Veterans Affairs has ousted the head of its Ohio-based regional network and disciplined an official at the Cincinnati VA medical center in connection with a probe of hospital management and veterans' care.

 

VA Ohio

 

The federal agency says Thursday its findings are being referred for a possible federal criminal investigation.

The VA announced in Washington that Jack Hetrick, director of the Ohio-based network that serves some 500,000 veterans in several states, is retiring after his proposed removal. The hospital's acting chief of staff, Dr. Barbara Temeck, also was suspended from her duties.

 

The VA says a site visit didn't substantiate impropriety in the quality of care for veterans or in community care referrals, but found management misconduct.

 

Messages seeking comment from Hetrick and the hospital were not immediately returned.

 

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Ohio Board Grants Parole to Man Who Fled From Prison in 1959

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A man who disappeared from a prison camp in 1959 while serving time for manslaughter and was found in Florida last year was granted parole Thursday.

 

Ohio

 

Frank Freshwaters wasn't at the hearing before the full state parole board in Columbus. But his attorney, Gordon Beggs, told the board that Freshwaters has lived a clean life and never forgot the accident that led to his case. Freshwaters was speeding when he fatally struck 24-year-old pedestrian Eugene Flynt in 1957.

Shirl Cheetham, a friend of Freshwaters', got choked up as she told the board he had become like family to her and would be welcome live with them in Florida if he's released from prison.

 

Investigators who tracked down Freshwaters last May said he was living off Social Security benefits under the alias William Harold Cox at a weathered trailer in rural Brevard County, Florida. The 79-year-old was returned to Ohio and had a closed parole hearing in August.

 

The Summit County prosecutor's office spoke out against parole Thursday, saying Freshwaters had changed his name, avoided accountability and never paid the restitution ordered for Flynt's family.

 

Freshwaters' son Jim Cox told the board his father has been haunted by the accident. Another son, Jeff Lloyd, extended his sympathies to the victim's family.

 

"I'd like to apologize to Mr. (Richard) Flynt for the loss of his father because I can relate," said Lloyd, who was born months after the accident that got his father into trouble.

 

Richard Flynt told the board that Freshwaters should be held accountable for what he did, but he said the specifics of how are up to them.

 

After Freshwaters pleaded guilty to manslaughter, his initial sentence of one to 20 years in prison was suspended. He violated his probation by driving and getting a driver's license, and, at 22, he was imprisoned in February 1959 at the Ohio State Reformatory, according to U.S. marshals and old court documents they provided.

 

He was soon moved to an honor camp near Sandusky, where he was reported missing on Sept. 30, 1959, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

 

He was first caught in West Virginia in 1975, but the governor refused to extradite him, concluding Freshwaters had a "flawless 16-year residency" there.

 

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Ohio Board Considers Parole for Man Who Was 55-Year Fugitive

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An Ohio board will hear arguments on whether to grant parole for a man who disappeared from a prison camp in 1959 while serving time for manslaughter and was found last year in rural Florida.

 

Parole Board

 

Frank Freshwaters wasn't expected to attend Thursday's hearing before the full state parole board in Columbus. It was slated to hear from both sides, including an attorney for Freshwaters.

 

Investigators who tracked down Freshwaters last May say he was living off Social Security benefits under an alias at a weathered trailer in rural Brevard County, Florida. The 79-year-old widower was returned to Ohio and had a closed parole hearing in August.

 

He was first caught in West Virginia in 1975 but wasn't extradited, as the state's governor concluded Freshwaters had a "flawless 16-year residency" there.

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Ohio Model Who Tried to Hire Hit Man is Sentenced to 7 Years

 
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A former Ohio fashion model convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband's ex-wife has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
 
Tara Lambert appeared in court in Circleville, south of Columbus, on Wednesday in red jail scrubs and rubber shoes after a judge earlier denied her motion to allow her to appear in street clothes and makeup.
 
Tara Lambert
 
A jury last month convicted the 33-year-old Lambert of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. 
 
Prosecutors say Lambert met with an undercover police officer posing as a hit man to make the arrangements. 
 
Lambert's attorney said she was mentally fragile and argued that the undercover officer baited her into the murder agreement.
 
The victim is the mother of Lambert's husband's two children. She calls Lambert a "demon."
 

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The Latest: Ohio Terrorism Suspect Can Remain Free on Bond

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- The Latest on one of four men accused of raising money for a former al-Qaida leader (all times local):

 

2:30 p.m.

A federal judge in Ohio says a man accused of raising money for a former al-Qaida leader can remain free on bond.

 

The judge on Tuesday said a glitch with an electronic monitoring device made it look like Sultane Room Salim had violated his bond by leaving a Columbus mosque during prayer services.

 

But the judge says an official with the company that provided the GPS device concluded it had malfunctioned.

 

Federal prosecutors didn't object to the judge's decision to drop their request for Salim to return to jail.

 

Salim was released on bond in November and ordered to live with his wife and mother while awaiting trial.

His attorneys have denied his involvement in what prosecutors say was an effort to raise money for a former al-Qaida leader.

 

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1:15 a.m.

A federal judge in Ohio will decide whether to revoke the bond for one of four men accused of raising money for a former al-Qaida leader.

 

A hearing on the request by prosecutors is scheduled for Tuesday in Toledo.

 

Court officials say Sultane Room Salim has twice violated terms of his release, including briefly leaving a Columbus mosque during prayer services while he was out on bond.

 

U.S. marshals took Salim into custody earlier this month.

 

Salim was released from prison in November on bond. A judge ordered him to live with his wife and mother in the Cambridge area of eastern Ohio while awaiting trial.

 

His attorneys have denied his involvement in what prosecutors say was an effort to raise money for former al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki (ahn-WAHR' al-aw-LAH'-kee).

 

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Ohio Father, Son Found Dead of Suspected Fentanyl Overdose

AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- A father and son who apparently overdosed on the powerful narcotic fentanyl have been found dead in Ohio.

 

Fentanyl

 

An investigator with the Summit County medical examiner's office said Tuesday that the bodies of 64-year-old Thomas Nash and 46-year-old Vincent Nash were discovered Feb. 17 in the attic of an Akron boarding house. Investigator Gary Guenther says syringes and a bag containing fentanyl were found near the men and there were no signs of foul play.

 

Ohio authorities have been warning drug users for months about the dangers of fentanyl, a painkiller far more potent than heroin and other opioid-type drugs that's been blamed for the rise in fatal overdoses.

 

A medical examiner in Cleveland said last week that there's evidence that fentanyl sold in Ohio is manufactured in China.

 

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The summary line has been corrected to show that the medical examiner's office spoke Tuesday, not Monday.

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Ohio Officer Held on Drug Charges Kills Himself in Jail

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say a central Ohio police detective who was arrested last week on federal drug charges killed himself in jail.
 
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office says 43-year-old Tye Downard hanged himself in his one-person cell early Monday. Downard had been an officer in the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg.
 
He was found dead during hourly inmate checks. He had not been on suicide watch. Other details weren't available, but the sheriff's office says there was no negligence by employees.
 
Downard was arrested Thursday and charged with delivering drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and Percocet pills to an individual to sell.
 
Federal authorities say Downard made more than 20 deliveries of narcotics between October 2015 and February 2016. Court documents say some of the drugs were seized during police investigations.

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Cedar Point Removing Shoot the Rapids After Just 5 Years

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) - Cedar Point in northern Ohio is removing its newest water ride after just five years.
 
Operators of the amusement park in Sandusky say Shoot the Rapids is being dismantled because of low ridership. 
 
Three summers ago, seven people were hurt on Shoot the Rapids after a boat rolled backward down a hill and flipped over in the water. 
 
The $10.5 million flume ride remained closed the rest of the year.
 
Shoot the Rapids opened in 2010 after weeks of delays because the boats had to be modified.
 
Cedar Point says two other rides that required an extra fee won't be opening this year.
 
Both the go-karts and the Skyscraper ride are being removed from the Challenge Park area of Cedar Point.
 
 

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Young Man Poses as Ohio Lawmaker, Tours School

SYCAMORE, Ohio (AP) -- A teenager posing as a state senator toured a high school and spoke to a class, and school officials didn't realize they were fooled until weeks later, authorities in Ohio said.

 

School

 

Mohawk Local School District officials said Izaha Akins, of Marion, Ohio, visited the high school in December and claimed to be a lawmaker replacing another senator. They realized they'd been duped when Republican Sen. David Burke, of Marysville, showed up to speak weeks later, as scheduled.

 

Burke said in an email Friday that when he learned about the hoax, he and the school immediately began working with law enforcement. He said, "This was an extremely elaborate scheme and not as simple as walking through the door."

 

The Blade newspaper of Toledo reported that Akins said he was making a point about school security in small communities. He was charged recently with felony counts of telecommunications fraud and impersonating a peace officer.

 

"These country schools think it can't happen to them," Akins told The Blade in a brief interview. He said he wanted to "prove a point - that these kinds of things can happen. They could easily have Googled me, and they didn't."

 

School officials say Akins knew that Burke was scheduled to speak to a class Jan. 14, and called to bill himself as Burke's replacement as senator and available to speak earlier. He arranged to visit Dec. 15, provided his real name, presented his driver's license at the school that afternoon, got a tour of the school from the principal, then gave his presentation and left, Mohawk Schools Superintendent Ken Ratliff said.

 

"The presentation was about being active in politics, political processes," Ratliff said. "Everyone thought it was legit; bought into it, including the teacher."

Authorities said Reineke Ford provided a car and driver for the day to the supposed legislator. The Blade said Reineke Motors general manager Tony Flood said it's not unusual for the dealership to help the nearby school district.

 

Wyandot County Sheriff Mike Hetzel said no one at the school was in any danger, and a sheriff's deputy was at the school during the time of the visit.

 

Ratliff said, though, that the district now takes extra steps to verify visitors' identities.

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Execution Date Set Despite Ohio Not Having Lethal Drugs

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday set an execution date for a condemned killer over the objection of two justices who question establishing dates when the state doesn't have any lethal drugs.

 

Ohio Execution

 

The court ruled 5-2 to schedule James Frazier's execution for Oct. 17, 2019. He was sentenced to death for the 2004 slaying of a woman in a Toledo apartment building where both lived.

 

The decision means Ohio now has 26 death row inmates with firm execution dates beginning early next year at a time when the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction still can't find drugs to put them to death with.

 

Ohio last executed a prisoner in January 2014, when Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted over 26 minutes during the administration of a never-tried two-drug combo the state later abandoned.

 

The prisons agency changed its policies to allow for single doses of two alternative drugs, neither of which is available in the United States after their manufacturers put them off-limits for executions. The state has unsuccessfully tried to find compounded or specially mixed versions. A message seeking comment was left with the prisons agency.

 

Last year, Gov. John Kasich, a Republican running for president, ruled out looking for alternative methods, such as the firing squad or hanging.

 

In a dissent to Friday's ruling, Justice Paul Pfeifer said the state is currently incapable of properly executing the 25 inmates with already scheduled dates.

 

"It serves no rational purpose for this court to continue to set execution dates while significant logistical obstacles remain in place and more legal challenges are likely," Pfeifer said.

 

Pfeifer, a Republican, helped write the state's current capital punishment law as a state senator in 1981 but has since disavowed it and said Ohio should abolish the death penalty in favor of life without parole.

 

Justice William O'Neill, a Democrat who regularly dissents in capital punishment cases, joined in Pfeifer's opinion.

 

Authorities say Frazier, 75, entered the apartment of 49-year-old Mary Stevenson on March 2, 2004, strangled her, cut her throat and fled with two of her purses.

Frazier's attorney declined to comment because of his involvement in an ongoing lawsuit challenging lethal injection in Ohio.

 

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After 2 Kids Revived by Opiate Antidote, Ohio Mom and Grandma Charged

WARREN, Ohio (AP) -- The mother and grandmother of two young children who were revived using the opiate antidote naloxone have been charged with felonies in Ohio.

 

Authorities say doctors revived the 9- and 21-month-old children on Feb. 2 after their mother found them unconscious on the floor in their Warren home and took them to a hospital.

 

The 18-year-old mother, Carlisa Davis, was indicted Thursday in Trumbull County on two counts of endangering children. She pleaded not guilty and is being held on a $50,000 bond.

 

The children's grandmother, 43-year-old Lisa Davis, was charged with permitting drug abuse. She pleaded not guilty and was freed on a personal bond.

 

Court records don't indicate whether the women have attorneys.

Trumbull County has taken custody of the children.

 

PREVIOUS STORY: 2 Ohio Toddlers Revived with Drug Overdose Antidote Narcan

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Ohio Psych Ward Patient Attacks Security Guard With Knives

 

AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- Police say a patient in the psych ward of an Ohio hospital attacked a security guard with knives, critically injuring him.

 

Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards says the 54-year-old guard had surgery Tuesday night. His injuries were considered life-threatening.

 

Edwards says the attack happened at around 7 p.m. Tuesday at Summa St. Thomas Hospital. The guard was stabbed in the neck and abdomen as the 33-year-old patient was being taken to St. Thomas.

 

Other hospital employees restrained the patient, who was taken into custody. No one else was hurt.

 

Edwards says it isn't known how the patient got the knives into the hospital. A Summa Health spokesman says the attack was unprovoked.

 

Charges are expected.

 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday it's also investigating.

 

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Ohio Felon Cleaning Handgun Shoots Downstairs Neighbor

CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Authorities in Ohio say a convicted felon accidentally fired a handgun while he was cleaning it, and the bullet hit his downstairs neighbor in the chest.

 

The (Canton) Repository reports that a 43-year-old Canton man was arrested Tuesday night after a 53-year-old woman living in the apartment below his was shot.

 

Gun

 

The bullet was removed at a hospital. A Canton police lieutenant tells the newspaper the woman was in stable condition after surgery.

 

Police say the man wasn't allowed to have firearms because of a felonious assault conviction. He is being held on $50,000 bond and is expected to appear Wednesday in Canton Municipal Court.

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Ex-NFL Player Charged With Stealing Money From Ohio Groups

 

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A former NFL player withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from the account of an inner-city Cleveland charity to satisfy Las Vegas gambling debts and to pay personal expenses, according to charges filed Tuesday in federal court.

 

Ohio Player

 

The charges against Reggie Rucker, 68, are contained in an information, which indicates Rucker has agreed to plead guilty. Rucker was a wide receiver who played 12 years in the NFL from 1970 to 1981, including seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He's charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to an FBI agent. He is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 24.

 

Rucker was executive director for Amer-I-Can Cleveland, a nonprofit group that is an outgrowth of an organization created by Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown in Los Angeles. Rucker also played a lead role with Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, a coalition of groups that employs outreach workers to quell violence between rival gangs and factions in Cleveland. Amer-I-Can Cleveland is a registered nonprofit; Peacemakers Alliance is not.

 

According to the information, Rucker solicited foundations, organizations and individuals to make donations and would routinely begin withdrawing money for his personal use after funds were deposited into the Amer-I-Can account. The withdrawals occurred from 2011 to 2015. Rucker used $65,000 in donations to pay off markers at Las Vegas and made $48,000 in ATM withdrawals at casinos in Las Vegas, Cleveland and Tampa, Florida, the information said. Around $35,000 of the casino withdrawals were in 2014.

Rucker attorney Michael Hennenberg said Tuesday that Rucker ended his involvement with the two organizations within the last year.

 

"Reggie has been cooperating with the government for approximately a year," Hennenberg said. "Reggie accepts responsibility totally for his wrongful conduct and, in addition to his punishment, he will do everything possible to make it right."

 

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Cleveland said Tuesday that the total loss is estimated at around $100,000, but he wouldn't elaborate. The information said Rucker would make deposits into the Amer-I-Can account using personal funds, loans and gambling proceeds. The deposits helped Rucker prolong his misuse of funds, the information said.

 

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Driver in Ohio Crash That Killed 5 Had DUI Incident Hours Earlier

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- The driver of a wrong-way car that killed five, including himself, in an Ohio interstate crash was jailed just over a day earlier on suspicion of drunken driving, records show.

 

Ohio Accident

Photo By WHIO

 

An investigation continues into the early Saturday crash on Interstate 75 in downtown Dayton that killed driver James Pohlabeln and four people in an SUV he slammed into, including three members of a local hard-rock band.

 

Pohlabeln was arrested early Thursday after his car collided with a parked car in Dayton, the Dayton Daily News reported Sunday.

 

The report listed the offense as "operating a motor vehicle without reasonable control." The paper reported that Pohlabeln was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and failure to control. He was released about 7 p.m. Thursday on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty in municipal court, according to the paper.

 

Investigators suspect Pohlabeln had been drinking when the head-on collision happened about 3 a.m. Saturday. He's also suspected of driving the wrong way on nearby State Route 4 before the crash.

 

Ten fatal crashes occurred in Ohio in 2014 involving drivers traveling the wrong way or on the wrong side, according to the most recent Ohio Department of Public Safety records. Twelve such crashes were reported the previous year.

 

Three men killed in the SUV were members of a hard-rock band, CounterFlux, that played across the region as well as Kentucky. A female passenger in the SUV was also killed.

 

"There's nothing worse than losing friends, family or otherwise," surviving members of the band posted on the band's Facebook page.

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THE LATEST: Kasich Gets Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

 
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign a bill stripping government money from Planned Parenthood, a move that might help him with conservatives who dominate the upcoming Republican presidential primary in South Carolina.
 

Planned Parenthood

 

The legislation cleared the state legislature and was headed to Kasich on Wednesday, a day after the primary in New Hampshire, where a tough stance against Planned Parenthood might have been received with less enthusiasm by its many moderate Republican voters. Kasich finished second in the New Hampshire race behind Donald Trump but ahead of a group of mainstream GOP candidates who vied for moderate support.

 

No one is acknowledging whether the 2016 presidential calendar might have played a part in when Kasich would get the bill.

 

Republican Senate President Keith Faber told reporters Wednesday he believed South Carolinians would like the bill but that wasn't a consideration.

"I don't know that our timing has anything to do with that," Faber said. "We didn't even think of that, frankly."

 

The House gave its final approval Wednesday on a mostly party-line vote, with the bill's Democratic co-sponsor voting in favor and two Republicans voting against it.

 

The bill targets the roughly $1.3 million in grant funding that Planned Parenthood receives through Ohio's health department. The money, which is mostly federal, supports initiatives for HIV testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and prevention of violence against women.

 

The legislation would prohibit such funds from going to entities that perform or promote abortions, their affiliates and those that contract with an entity that performs abortions.

 

Kasich spent Wednesday campaigning in South Carolina, home of the South's first primary on Feb. 20. He had events scheduled there for Thursday and Friday.

 

Editorials in The (Toledo) Blade, the (Akron) Beacon Journal and The New York Times have called on the governor to veto the legislation - so has Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

 

Kasich is unlikely to reject the bill.

 

During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire this past weekend, a voter in Concord asked Kasich whether he'd support federal funding for Planned Parenthood if it were part of a balanced budget. "We're not gonna fund it," he said during the exchange.

 

Ohio's legislation follows an outcry among abortion opponents around the country after the release of secretly recorded videos by activists alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to researchers for a profit in violation of federal law. Planned Parenthood has called the videos misleading and denied any wrongdoing, saying a handful of its clinics provided fetal tissue for research while receiving only permissible reimbursement for costs.

 

Three of Planned Parenthood's 28 locations in Ohio provide abortions. The organization has said it has no fetal tissue donation program in Ohio, where such donations are illegal.

 

Planned Parenthood is not named in the legislation. But the bill's backers have acknowledged the organization will be the most affected. They want the money to go to health centers and other providers that do not perform abortions.

 

Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, called the passage a victory for the anti-abortion movement. "For a state like Ohio - it's a purple state - to be able to pass something like defunding Planned Parenthood, I think that gives hope to other states."

 

State and federal laws already prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

 

Planned Parenthood leaders have emphasized that should the bill become law, the organization's doors would remain open.

 

"This money is not going to change anything about the health care or abortion care that we provide to women in Ohio," said Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. "These are community health programs that are being cut out and destroyed."

 

Kight's group announced later Wednesday it is targeting Kasich in online ads slated to appear on Facebook and news sites across Ohio.

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Ohio Cop Fired After 137-Shot Barrage Wants Back on Force

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A Cleveland police officer who was fired after a high-speed chase led to a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed black people says he wants to return to the force.

 

Six police officers were fired last month in connection with the November 2012 shooting. The chase began when officers mistook a car backfiring for a gunshot, and it ended in an East Cleveland parking lot. Thirteen officers fired their guns, killing driver Timothy Russell and passenger Malissa Williams.

 

Shots Fired

 

Former officer Freddy Diaz, who fired first, told WJW-TV the scene was a scary and "horrific" experience.

 

"I don't want to relive it, I don't want to think about it but it is always going to be embedded in my heart and my mind," Diaz said.

 

The acquittal of a different officer, who is white, on manslaughter charges in the shooting drew protests, and the case helped lead to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that calls for bias-free policing in Cleveland.

 

Diaz was found guilty of several administrative charges that alleged he didn't get proper permission to join the pursuit and acted contrary to his training when he left the cover of his vehicle and fired at the suspect vehicle.

 

The city wouldn't comment on Diaz's case as his firing and five others are being appealed through grievances by Cleveland's largest police union.

 

The union's president, Steve Loomis, has described the firings as unbelievable, unprecedented and politically motivated.

 

Dozens more officers were given suspensions of varying lengths in connection with their actions during the chase or shooting.

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Heroin Scourge Changes Role of Police in Hard-Hit Areas

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The police on front lines of the nation's battle against deadly heroin are changing tactics and even redefining their roles in some communities.

 

In a suburban Cincinnati township and a northwest Ohio county, police in special teams try to intervene with users soon after overdose recovery. They want to steer them into treatment while near-death experiences are fresh, before they relapse.

 

A program that offers treatment-seeking addicts an amnesty is spreading to other states from a northern Massachusetts community's police department.

 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently spotlighted unconventional approaches at a conference in his hard-hit state. He says police can't arrest their way out of the problem.

 

Some criminal justice veterans applaud less hard-line approaches, but ask where they were for drug scourges hitting black communities hardest.

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Federal Judge Asked to Revoke Bond of Ohio Terrorism Suspect

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- A federal judge is being asked to revoke the bond for one of four men accused of raising money for a former al-Qaida leader.

 

Court officials say Sultane Room Salim violated terms of his release twice in January while attending prayer services at a mosque in Columbus near where he has been living with his mother while waiting for a potential trial.

 

Toledo Court

 

Salim was allowed to leave his mother's home for prayer services, but he left the mosque for about 12 minutes on one occasion and he stayed in the parking lot for close to 20 minutes another time, according to a report from the court.

 

His attorney, Cherrefe Kadri, said during a brief hearing Friday that Salim, 41, had followed all the rules required under his release except those two occasions.

He said he was late leaving the mosque because he was talking to friends, but he did not explain why he left the building the other time, according to the court report.

 

U.S. marshals took Salim into custody on Friday, and he was brought to Toledo, where a hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday.

 

The move comes three months after another federal judge allowed Salim to be released from prison on a $500,000 property bond. Salim was told to live with his mother and outfitted with a GPS tracking device.

 

His attorneys have denied his involvement in what prosecutors say was an effort to raise money for al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

 

U.S. officials considered al-Awlaki, who was killed by an unmanned U.S. drone in Yemen in 2011, to be an inspirational leader of al-Qaida, and linked him to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting American and Western interests, including the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner.

 

The three other suspects accused of raising money for al-Awlaki remain in jail, including Salim's brother. He was denied bond last month.

 

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Tests Show Few High Lead Readings in Ohio Village's Water

SEBRING, Ohio (AP) -- Regulators say lead levels in tap water have been below the federal allowable limit in 96 percent of the samples tested this past week in a northeast Ohio village.

 

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has been testing water in the rural area of Mahoning County for about two weeks since notifying residents in Sebring that unsafe levels of lead were found in some water samples.

 

The operators of the small water system have come under fire by the state for not notifying the public for months about the results.

 

Some lawmakers also want to know why the state EPA did not step in more quickly.

 

State officials are working with Sebring to adjust its water system chemistry to keep lead from leaching from residential piping.

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Woman Convicted in Ex-Quarterback Fraud Scheme Rebuilds Life

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Wealthy widow Anita Barney lost nearly her entire fortune to an ex-Ohio State quarterback who defrauded her of hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed a gambling addiction that left him banished from the NFL.

 

But instead of garnering sympathy, Barney found herself vilified and facing her own criminal charges after talking numerous friends into handing over nearly $500,000 as part of the same scheme.

 

Now 74 and living off Social Security after surviving breast cancer, Barney is trying to publicly rebuild her reputation.

 

"I cry every day about this and I pray to God that they understand," Barney said.

 

Her self-published book - "Quarterback Sneak" - details her experience at the hands of football great Art Schlichter, who played for Ohio State between 1978 and 1981 and later for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills, and the Detroit and Cincinnati Arena League teams.

 

Before his most recent conviction, Schlichter spent 10 years in prison in Indiana for gambling-related crimes. The NFL has suspended him for life.

 

Barney's message is straightforward: She's sorry about what happened but had little choice because of threats Schlichter made - including harming her adult children - as he egged her on. Schlichter's blustery and vulgar demands were captured on recordings made by investigators.

 

Upon release in 2006, Schlichter wrote a book about his addiction, "Busted," and became an anti-gambling crusader. But even as he railed against casinos during church appearances, he was racking up new gambling debts.

 

Thirty years earlier, Schlichter was a revered OSU star who had comforted Barney's son while he recovered from a plane crash. In 2009, after Barney re-introduced herself at one of his church talks, Schlichter asked for a $10,000 loan to buy a car to visit his daughters in Indiana.

 

Barney, the widow of a former Wendy's CEO, was accustomed to helping people. She wrote the check without hesitation. Soon after, Schlichter asked for $100,000 to pay off gambling debts and help other gambling addicts. He promised to repay her with proceeds from his book. More requests followed, with Schlichter enlisting her in what he said was a money-making investment involving the buying and selling of college football, NFL and Super Bowl tickets.

 

Soon Barney's fortune was gone and she was begging Schlichter for grocery and gas money. At his orders, she was also calling her own friends to enlist them in the scheme. Several lost tens of thousands of dollars.

Many of Barney's victims were well-known and well-off suburban Columbus residents reluctant to get involved in a criminal case.

 

As a result, prosecutors say Barney's eventual cooperation was vital to convicting Schlichter, who pleaded guilty in 2011 to federal counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and filing a false income tax return.

Barney pleaded guilty herself to two felony theft charges in 2012. She avoided prison but was ordered to pay $427,000 to 19 victims.

 

Some of Barney's victims have stood by her. Among them: Sue Noe, the Barneys' former cleaning woman who with her husband drained a home equity loan to give Barney $85,000 - none of which she's ever gotten back.

 

Noe, 72, accompanied Barney to a taping of "Dr. Phil" last month and believes she's remorseful.

 

"All of this time, it's like forget, forgive," Noe said. "I had to try to erase everything that happened to me. It happened - nothing I could do about it."

 

Others aren't so compassionate.

 

"I don't want anything to do with her because I still don't feel that she's sincere in anything she says," said David Froggatt, a high school classmate of Barney's and retired truck driver who lost $20,000.

 

Schlichter is serving a federal prison sentence in Indiana, scheduled for release in 2020. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and is receiving medical treatment, according to his attorney, Steve Nolder. Schlichter still faces state prison time once his federal sentence ends.

 

Barney's story would be better if she acknowledged she evolved from victim to co-conspirator, Nolder said.

Barney has pledged to pay people back with any proceeds from her book.

 

"Material things don't mean that much to me anymore," Barney said. "I survived this cancer, I survived Art, and I feel like I'm here for a purpose now. I don't know what it's for, but I'll be OK."

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Retired Ohio Police Officer Gets to Buy K-9 Partner for $1

MARIETTA, Ohio (AP) -- A recently retired Ohio police officer has been allowed to buy his K-9 partner for $1.

 

Officials in Marietta had created a social-media stir when they said Matt Hickey's police dog, Ajax, had to be sold at auction because it was city property and could still work. Hickey and Ajax worked together for three years, and the dog lived with him.

 

K9

 

Hickey was allowed to buy Ajax from the city on Thursday.

 

Earlier this week, the city had said it would allow Hickey to keep the dog if Hickey continued to work for the police department on a volunteer basis after his retirement. Hickey refused, noting he retired in January over health concerns.

 

Hickey says he's "speechless and very grateful" that he gets to keep Ajax.

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2 Ohio Toddlers Revived with Drug Overdose Antidote Narcan

WARREN, Ohio (AP) - Authorities in Ohio say two toddlers believed to have ingested an opiate were revived with a life-saving drug that reverses heroin and prescription painkiller overdoses. 
 
Warren police were awaiting toxicology reports to confirm whether the 9-month-old and 21-month-old had drugs in their systems.
 
Police say their 18-year-old mother reported finding the children unconscious on the kitchen floor Tuesday. She took them to a Warren hospital, which treated them with naloxone. It's more commonly known by its brand name, Narcan.
 
WKBN-TV reports Capt. Robert Massucci says the children were breathing abnormally when police first saw them.
 
They were moved to Akron Children's Hospital. Police say the children were doing better Wednesday.
 
Police say they expect to file charges and are investigating the mother's actions.
 
    
 

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Worker Dies at GM Plant in Defiance Ohio

DEFIANCE, Ohio (AP) - A General Motors employee has died at a GM plant in northwest Ohio.
 
The company said in a statement that the employee died Tuesday afternoon at GM's Defiance Casting Operations in Defiance. The worker's identity wasn't immediately released, and the company's statement provided no details on how the death occurred.
 
GM
 
A dispatcher at the South Richland Township Fire Department says the department responded to a report of an industrial accident at the plant around 1 p.m. Tuesday and is investigating. The dispatcher said he could provide no other information. He says the fire department is investigating with GM and other local authorities.
 
GM's statement says the company was saddened by the death and is working closely with authorities to investigate what happened. 
 
 
 

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Ohio Appeals Court Approves Class Action in Camera Case

CINCINNATI (AP) - A state appeals court has approved class action status for thousands of motorists fined for speeding in citations issued from automatic camera enforcement in a southwest Ohio village.
 
Red Light Camera
 
The ruling Monday by the 12th district appeals court allows attorneys for the drivers to ask a judge to order New Miami to pay back more than $1 million collected in the less than two years the cameras were operated. A Butler County judge ruled in 2014 that they violated motorists' rights to due process and ordered them shut off.
 
An attorney for the village says he hasn't had time to study the ruling and will need to discuss a potential appeal with village officials.
 
Meanwhile, New Miami police have begun using hand-held speeding cameras meant to comply with state legislation.
 
 

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Ohio Man Accused of 'Looking to Kill a Cop' Charged With Murder

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (AP) -- A man whose ex-girlfriend told police he left her house "looking to kill a cop" was charged Monday in the January death of an Ohio officer who was shot in the head, and the suspect could face the death penalty if convicted.

 

Danville Cop

 

A Knox County grand jury indicted Herschel Ray Jones III on 10 counts, half of them linked to the slaying of 34-year-old Officer Thomas Cottrell in Danville. His body was found behind the village's municipal building late Jan. 17, shortly after Jones' ex-girlfriend warned police that Jones was armed and might be targeting an officer.

 

Prosecutor Chip McConville said Jones apparently will be represented by a public defender, who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. McConville said he anticipates the defense will request that Jones undergo a mental competency evaluation.

McConville declined to discuss what communication investigators have had with Jones or a possible motive for the shooting.

 

"I don't know, and I'm not going to speculate," he said.

Besides aggravated murder, Jones, 32, also is charged with misdemeanor assault of his ex-girlfriend and aggravated burglary, kidnapping and grand theft from a home about two months before the shooting.

 

Investigators say Cottrell was shot with a pistol stolen in that November burglary, which involved a masked intruder who restrained a victim with tape.

 

Jones allegedly took Cottrell's firearm and police cruiser and some of his clothing, which investigators believe was burned. Jones was spotted running from a home after the shooting and was arrested after a short foot chase, police said.

 

Dispatchers had tried to make contact with Cottrell after receiving his ex-girlfriend's tip, but they couldn't reach him. It's likely Cottrell was killed before the call went out, McConville said Monday.

 

Investigators wouldn't discuss their timeline of what happened in detail but acknowledged there are indications that the shooting was premeditated.

"It's very disturbing. The last thing we want is for public safety people to be targeted," said Special Agent Eric Lehnhart of the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

 

Officials said Cottrell was an auxiliary officer who mainly worked weekends in Danville, about 50 miles northeast of Columbus. He was hired by the police department a few months ago and worked full-time as mixer driver for a concrete company in Mount Vernon.

 

Jones has a lengthy criminal history and in one case tried to claim he was legally insane, according to court records. Court records show Jones has multiple convictions for breaking and entering, burglary, receiving stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon dating back to 2001. In a 2011 case, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity before changing his plea to guilty.

 

Ohio prison records showed Jones served nearly four years for the 2011 convictions on charges of receiving stolen property and possession of chemicals for manufacture of drugs. He was released in April.

His parole officer has been put on paid administrative leave pending further review, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

 

A date for Jones' first appearance on the new charges will be set by the court, McConville said.

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