Ohio News Briefs

Board: Proposal to term-limit Ohio justices is 2 issues

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Ballot Board says a proposed constitutional amendment to impose term limits on state Supreme Court justices and remove special legal protections provided to state lawmakers and their staffs would be two separate ballot issues.

The board certified the proposal as two issues Monday. That means backers would have to provide the attorney general with separate summaries for each of the two initiatives. If those are certified as “fair and truthful,” petitioners would have to collect valid signatures for each issue — nearly 306,000 signatures for each one.

Part of the proposal would preclude judges who served nine or more consecutive years on the court from being re-elected or appointed. Its second element would provide that all state laws apply equally to members and employees of the General Assembly.

Columbus considering new age restriction for tobacco sales

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s capital city is considering a ban on the sale of tobacco products to any individuals younger than the age of 21.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that under the proposal, retailers in Columbus would be required to ask for identification for anyone younger than 30 who wants to purchase tobacco or tobacco paraphernalia.

Approximately 2,000 tobacco retailers in Columbus would have to purchase an annual sales license for $150 if the ban is approved. Stores caught selling to anyone under 21 would face fines of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for any subsequent violations.

The proposal would not criminalize the physical act of smoking for residents under the new age restriction.

Columbus City Council will vote on legislation supporting the ban in December.

Northeast Ohio county to vote on buying solar, wind power

CLEVELAND (AP) — County leaders in Cleveland are considering a 10-year power-purchase deal that includes buying power from a yet-to-be-built wind farm in Lake Erie.

The Cuyahoga County Council’s vote scheduled for Tuesday would lock in an agreement with Cleveland Public Power.

Some of the power would come from six wind turbines that are planned to be built in Lake Erie.

It would be the nation’s first offshore, fresh-water project. Plans call for the turbines to be operating by 2018.

The power-purchase agreement also calls for some of the electricity to come from a solar farm that would be built on a brownfield in the Cleveland area.

Cleveland.com reports the 10-year contract would cost about $68 million and could be extended over 25 years.

Ex-lawmaker to replace Ohio’s departing Medicaid director

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The governor says he’s appointing a former state lawmaker from northwest Ohio to replace the state’s Medicaid director, who is leaving that role for the private sector.

Gov. John Kasich says Barbara Sears will replace John McCarthy at the Ohio Department of Medicaid sometime next month. Sears is now assistant director of the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation.

Kasich says Sears has shared his vision for health care and knows the topic well, having focused much of her work as a state lawmaker on health and human services issues.

McCarthy has been Ohio’s Medicaid director for six years, since Kasich took office. Kasich says McCarthy’s work has helped expand access to Medicaid services for more low-income residents and improved the efficiency of such services, saving the state money.

Driver exchanges gunfire with Ohio police, dies after crash

DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) — One person has died after a car chase involving gunfire ended in a crash near Columbus.

Authorities say officers exchanged shots with the driver before the crash Monday night in Delaware County.

It’s not clear yet whether the driver died from the crash or the shots fired at the car.

State troopers say the chase stated in Marion County after the driver refused to stop on U.S. Route 23 and drove south at high speeds.

Delaware County sheriff’s officers then used a device to puncture the car’s tires. The driver kept going but later crashed into a pole near the city of Delaware.

Authorities surrounded the car and found the driver dead inside.

The driver’s name hasn’t been released.

Ohio man pleads guilty to rape, abduction of young girl

ASHLAND, Ohio (AP) — A man has pleaded guilty to abducting and raping a 6-year-old girl in northern Ohio.

The Mansfield News Journal reports 26-year-old Brock Martin pleaded guilty Monday to rape, kidnapping and other charges in a plea deal with Ashland County prosecutors.

Authorities say Martin broke into the girl’s home in August 2015, grabbed her from her bed and raped her in the backyard. Someone in the house saw Martin assaulting the girl and chased him a short distance before asking a neighbor to call 911. Officers used a police dog to find Martin and arrest him.

Martin told authorities he broke into a home in 2013 and assaulted two 13-year-old girls during a sleepover. Martin didn’t know any of his victims.

Martin’s attorney didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Man sentenced for bilking NFL players in horse racing scheme

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio man has been sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to bilking four NFL players out of more than $350,000.

Prosecutors say he spent the money on a luxury SUV, sports tickets and gambling.

A federal judge in Cleveland also told Jonathan Pippin to pay back more than $358,000 and undergo addiction treatment.

Pippin apologized in court Monday while blaming his lavish lifestyle and alcoholism.

Cleveland.com reports the players who lost money are former Cleveland Browns players Chansi Stuckey and Reggie Hodges, former Browns and current Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Norwood and San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead.

Authorities say Pippin ripped off the players in a horse-racing investment scheme. An investigation into the Logan man began in 2012.

Lawyer blames non-existent man for crash, gets 10 days jail

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) — An attorney who falsely blamed a non-existent black man for a car accident to avoid facing drunken driving charges has been sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Twenty-seven-year-old Heather Wilsey, of Elyria, was sentenced in municipal court there after pleading no contest to obstruction of official business and failure to control.

The Chronicle-Telegram reports Wilsey apologized during sentencing.

Wilsey, who is white, had told investigators that a black man she’d met in a bar was driving her car when it crashed into a utility pole in June and he fled. Police found surveillance video showing Wilsey driving away from the bar before the accident.

Wilsey’s attorney didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Another attorney who was in her car that night also received 10 days in jail.

Barn fire at Ohio poultry operation kills 22,000 chickens

ASHLAND, Ohio (AP) — More than 22,000 chickens are dead after a fire at a barn in north-central Ohio.

The smoke was visible from miles away as the fire burned Monday at a Mennonite poultry operation in Nova Township, north of Ashland. It took hours for crews from several fire departments to fully extinguish the fire.

Owner Matthew Van Pelt says he was cutting the grass when he noticed a fan blowing out smoke from the barn. The 500-foot-long facility was a total loss. All the chickens inside died, and thousands of eggs were destroyed.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Van Pelt says he suspects an electrical issue is to blame.

Ohio mom accused of decapitating baby rejects plea deal

CINCINNATI (AP) — A woman accused of stabbing and decapitating her 3-month-old daughter has rejected a plea deal as she pursues an insanity defense ahead of trial in Cincinnati.

Twenty-one-year-old Deasia Watkins previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the March 2015 death of Jayniah Watkins.

WCPO-TV reports that if the court finds Watkins not guilty by reason of insanity, she’d be under the court’s jurisdiction for life without parole.

Court records show Watkins was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis and had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

Prosecutor Joe Deters has said Watkins looked zombie-like when she was hospitalized in the days after her arrest.

Watkins was ordered to have psychiatric treatment and evaluation last year and has since been found competent to stand trial.

Man takes plea deal in Ohio firefighter’s murder-for-hire

CLEVELAND (AP) — Authorities say a man charged in a murder-for-hire plot against a veteran Cleveland firefighter has agreed to 28 years in prison in a deal that requires him to testify against alleged co-conspirators.

Twenty-three-year-old Chad Padgett, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, kidnapping and other charges for his role in the 2013 slaying of fire Lt. William Walker.

A message seeking comment was left for Padgett’s attorney.

Prosecutors say Walker’s wife asked her teenage daughter and Padgett to find someone to kill her husband to collect insurance money and hide financial fraud she committed in his name. Prosecutors say Padgett contacted a cousin, who found someone to kill Walker.

The teen was Walker’s step-daughter. She and the alleged hit man have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.

Grant to fund dashboard cameras for Cleveland police

CLEVELAND (AP) — A $500,000 grant from outgoing Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty will help fund dashboard-mounted camera systems for every frontline police cruiser in Cleveland.

Cleveland.com reports the Cleveland City Council voted on Monday to accept the money, which comes from the forfeitures of convicted criminals in Cuyahoga County.

The grant covers the installation of cameras in about 275 cruisers along with licenses for the technology, data storage and training.

City Council Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone says frontline vehicles in all five police districts will be outfitted with the cameras in addition to cruisers belonging to the downtown services unit and the traffic enforcement unit.

Officials say the city will likely have to pay approximately $128,000 annually for ongoing expenses associated with the dashcams.

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