OHIO INVESTMENT SCANDAL
Ohio watchdog releases investment scandal report
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state watchdog has released a much-anticipated investigative report on the investment scandal that engulfed Ohio in 2005 and resulted in 19 convictions.
Inspector General Randall Meyer makes no new findings in the report issued Thursday.
Meyer details the status of 75 government reforms recommended after the scandal, dubbed Coingate, through reviews ordered by the governor, state auditor and Legislature.
The scandal began with a dubious $50 million investment by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation into a rare-coin fund run by generous Republican fundraiser Tom Noe (NOH'-ee). Noe has been convicted on federal and state charges and remains in prison.
Meyer concludes the bureau is "unquestionably" more professional and accountable.
The Blade of Toledo, which broke the news of the scandal, recently sued Meyer for release of the report.
Rivers refuses to apologize to women held captive
CLEVELAND (AP) - Joan Rivers refuses to apologize for comparing living in her daughter's guest room with the captivity of three women kidnapped in Cleveland.
Rivers and her daughter discussed their reality show Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show and she complained about her living arrangements, saying, "Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space."
Rivers tells The Plain Dealer in Cleveland that it was a joke she made as a comedienne. She says the women are free and people should move on. Her publicist confirmed Rivers commented to the newspaper but said Rivers couldn't be reached Thursday.
A statement from attorneys for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus called Rivers' remark hurtful and said she should apologize.
Berry, DeJesus and a third woman escaped from kidnapper Ariel Castro's home last year.
Helicopter crashes in central Ohio; 1 person hurt
DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) - A sheriff's spokeswoman says a helicopter crashed in a rural area of central Ohio, injuring at least one of two people aboard the aircraft.
Delaware County sheriff's spokeswoman Tracy Whited says the crash happened early Thursday afternoon near the Union County line. Law enforcement and emergency agencies from both counties were responding to the scene.
Whited says one person was taken to a hospital with injuries that weren't believed to be life-threatening.
Whited said she wasn't sure exactly where the helicopter crashed but that the scene was in a region of rural farmland.
She said she was awaiting more details about what happened and about who owns the helicopter.
Traditional foes back mercy for condemned killer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A lawyer for a condemned Ohio killer set to die next month says he should be spared because of grave doubts about his guilt.
Public defender Vicki Werneke says clemency is the only way to address the fact that defendant Arthur Tyler is on death row while his co-defendant, who took responsibility for the fatal shooting of a Cleveland produce vendor in 1983, is now out of prison.
Werneke also told the Ohio Parole Board Thursday that the court system has been unfair to Tyler throughout his prosecution.
Attorneys representing Tyler made arguments to the Ohio Parole Board Thursday, to be followed by Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County prosecutors.
In a rare move, prosecutors will argue Tyler's sentence should be commuted to life without parole because of questions about the conviction.
Former partner to testify against Ohio lawmaker
CINCINNATI (AP) - A former business partner has agreed to testify against an Ohio lawmaker charged with theft and fraud for allegedly misleading investors about a company's financial status and using their money for personal gain.
Prosecutors said during a Thursday hearing in Hamilton County court that they reached a plea agreement with John Fussner so he'll testify against Republican state Rep. Pete Beck of Mason.
Fussner pleaded guilty to selling unregistered securities in an insolvent company. In exchange, prosecutors dropped six other charges.
Although Fussner's guilty pleas could carry between two and eight years in prison, prosecutors say they'll recommend probation as long as he goes through with testifying against Beck.
Beck's trial was set for Nov. 17. The 61-year-old has denied the allegations and brushed away calls to resign.
BABY KILLED-MOM CHARGED
Ohio mother sentenced to life in baby's death
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A Toledo woman convicted of killing her 6-month-old son has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.
Court officials say a judge on Thursday sentenced 26-year-old Amanda Bacon on charges of murder and child endangering in the death of her son, Avery.
Prosecutors say she bashed the baby's head, fracturing his skull so severely that he died two days later at a hospital.
The jury convicted Bacon of the charges last week, acquitting her of an aggravated murder charge.
Bacon's attorney didn't immediately return a call to his office Thursday.
Bacon testified that her roommate injured the baby and forced Bacon to prostitute herself. But her roommate testified that he saw Bacon throw the baby to the floor in December 2012.
Ohio dad at odds with cemetery over memorial
KENT, Ohio (AP) - A northeast Ohio man is locked in a legal fight over an elaborate shrine he erected in a cemetery at the grave of his adult son.
The city of Kent, which operates Standing Rock Cemetery, has taken issue specifically with two large pictures of Fred Molai's son that hang on poles more than 8 feet high. The cemetery says they were put up without permission, and people have complained.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports Molai sued the cemetery and Portage County to try to keep the photos up. A judge recently referred the case to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Committee.
Molai's son Adam was a U.S. Navy petty officer when he died in a rafting accident nearly three years ago.
The Kent city law director declined to comment.
House speaker says world wants US to lead
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) - House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-ner) says U.S. global allies want America to show strong leadership, and he's encouraged by plans to deploy some troops in European countries.
Boehner says other countries are begging for the United States to lead, and that the 150 troops now in Poland with other contingents planned for three other countries should be reassuring. The first 150 paratroopers arrived Wednesday for joint exercises in Poland. That's considered a sign of U.S. commitment to security in Europe, with tensions growing over the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Boehner says what he calls the "bad guys" around the world feel they can act with impunity when the United States doesn't show strength.
The Republican from West Chester, Ohio, spoke Thursday to a Middletown Rotary Club luncheon.
FATAL TRACTOR CRASH
Girl, 14, killed in western Ohio tractor crash
COVINGTON, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say a 14-year-old girl was killed and four members of her family injured when an agricultural tractor they were riding on went out of control and flipped in a western Ohio village.
The Miami County Sheriff's Office identified the girl killed in the Wednesday afternoon crash in Covington as Michelle Burns.
The Dayton Daily News reports the tractor was pulling a trailer filled with animal feed and some hand tools when the driver, Michelle's 43-year-old mother Tammy Burns, apparently lost control on a down incline.
Also injured were 20-year-old Lisa Warner and her children, 18-month-old Darrin Warner and 1-month-old Kelly Warner. Lisa Warner is Tammy Burns' daughter.
Darrin Warner was in serious condition, and Kelly Warner was in fair condition. The conditions of the others weren't available.
New arena planned for downtown Akron
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A new 8,500-seat arena is being planned for downtown Akron.
The venue would be the new home of University of Akron basketball teams and also host other events.
Now officials will have to convince county voters to approve a 0.25-percent sales tax increase to help pay for the $76 million arena and other county expenses. That issue will go on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The arena will be a joint venture involving the city, Summit County and the University of Akron. University trustees approved an initial agreement for the project during a meeting this week.
The university would continue using the current 5,300-seat arena on campus, with plans for updates.
Basketball coach Keith Dambrot says newer facilities will help in recruitment.
Measles off to a fast start; Ohio reports cluster of suspected cases
NEW YORK (AP) - Health officials say measles is up - again - in the United States, and they're investigating a new cluster of suspected cases in Ohio.
The nation has seen more cases of the highly contagious disease so far this year than at the same point of any year since 1996.
Authorities say 129 cases in 13 states were reported by mid-April. Most were in California and New York City. Most were triggered by travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the United States among unvaccinated people.
The national tally already may be outdated. Ohio officials on Thursday announced a new cluster of 13 suspected cases in rural Knox County. At least three recently traveled to the Philippines, where a recent measles epidemic has caused 20,000 illnesses.
Ohio winter takes toll on honeybees
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State agriculture officials say Ohio beekeepers lost 50 to 80 percent of their honeybees over the harsh winter, threatening the farming industry.
Honeybees have also faced increasing numbers of diseases, pests and pesticides that have thinned colonies in recent years, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio farmers rely on bees to pollinate more than 70 crops, including apples, strawberries and pumpkins. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that honeybees pollinate more than $14 billion in crops nationwide each year.
An expert at Ohio State University says "a combination of insecticides, mites and diseases" is taking a toll on the state's bee population.
Last year, Ohio had 4,390 registered beekeepers who tended an estimated 37,000 colonies at 7,199 apiaries. Since 2008, the number of beekeepers has increased by 27 percent.
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