State Briefing

Man found at landfill killed self

LORDSTOWN — Authorities say a man found dead in a roll-off container at a northeast Ohio construction landfill killed himself, possibly weeks before his remains were found. The body was discovered Friday at the Trumbull County landfill as a driver prepared to unload debris hauled from a construction site in Ravenna. Lordstown Police Chief Brent Milhoan said authorities believe the man traveled to the site after leaving a medical facility in Ravenna. The container was at the construction site for over a month before it was removed. The coroner’s office has determined that the 45-year-old Mogadore man hanged himself.

FedEx driver foils mail scam

EASTLAKE — Police say an alert package delivery driver saved an elderly Ohio couple from losing thousands of dollars in a scam by someone claiming the pair needed to send money to keep their son out of prison. Eastlake police say a scammer called the couple saying he was a New Jersey police officer needing $12,000 in cash for their son’s bail. Veteran FedEx driver Dan McCoy says he felt something wasn’t right when he saw the package didn’t have an account number, and called the person requesting it. McCoy was tipped off it was a scam when that person told him police didn’t have an account number. McCoy then contacted Eastlake police. The northeast Ohio couple later found out their son was fine.

Court won’t halt funding cuts

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court said on Wednesday it will not temporarily halt the state’s efforts to recoup $60 million from one of the nation’s largest online charter schools, which says it could soon be forced to close in the middle of the school year. The state reduced monthly payments to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow to start recouping money while ECOT challenges how the Ohio Department of Education tallied student logins to determine the school was overpaid. ECOT has said it will run out of cash and close in early 2018 if the court doesn’t intervene, noting that it doesn’t have the “safety net” of local tax dollars that traditional public schools receive. The school said such a closure would affect almost 12,000 students and eliminate over 800 jobs. The school’s request to expedite hearing the case or block the state from recouping funding in the meantime was denied by the court Wednesday without written explanation.

Amendments clear ballot board

COLUMBUS — Two proposed ballot issues that supporters say would restore Ohio communities’ rights to challenge corporate incursions have been cleared for signature-gathering. The Ohio Ballot Board certified the Ohio Community Rights Amendment and a companion measure extending initiative and referendum rights to counties and townships on Tuesday, each as a single issue. Backers now must collect roughly 306,000 valid signatures to place each issue on the ballot. The push stems from mounting frustration among environmental groups that have failed for years to push fracking bans onto local ballots. Activist groups now want to make it easier to pass local regulations on predatory lending, puppy mills, wireless equipment location, minimum wages and a host of other issues. Leading Ohio business groups oppose the measures as overly broad impediments to economic development.

Student pleads for return of ashes

TOLEDO — An Ohio university student is pleading for a suspected thief to return her mother’s ashes after her car was broken into. Callie Futey says she was staying at her boyfriend’s home in Toledo when the ashes were stolen from the backseat of her car along with other items Tuesday morning. Futey lost her mother in 2006. The 20-year-old University of Toledo student says she had taken a container with the ashes from her father’s house with a plan to put them in a special urn for Christmas. Futey says she doesn’t care about the other items stolen. She just wants her mother’s ashes.

Brief filed in tea party IRS case

CINCINNATI — Ohio’s attorney general wants to unseal testimony made by two former IRS officials at the center of a 2013 tea party tax scandal. A federal judge previously sealed the depositions of Lois Lerner and Holly Paz after their lawyers said the two received death threats. Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine filed an amicus brief last week in support of The Cincinnati Enquirer’s efforts to unseal the depositions. The IRS admitted in 2013 to stalling applications for hundreds of groups with words like “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names when they applied for tax-exempt status. In October, the IRS apologized and agreed not to single out applications based on an organization’s political views. Lerner, a former divisional head, has since resigned and Paz has been reassigned.

Bill expands flying of POW flag

COLUMBUS — A bill to expand when the POW/MIA military flag is flown is on its way to the Ohio Senate for consideration. The legislation requires the flag be flown at state-operated buildings on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. The Ohio House approved the legislation Wednesday. Federal law already requires the flag to be flown at certain buildings such as post offices on those same days. The flag honors members of the military who are missing in action or who were held as prisoners of war. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Scott Wiggam, a Republican from Wooster in northeastern Ohio.

State rep replaces senator

COLUMBUS — A state representative from Napoleon has assumed the seat of an Ohio senator who resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal. Republican state Rep. Robert McColley was sworn in Tuesday to replace former GOP Sen. Clifford Hite. The 63-year-old Hite resigned Oct. 16 without explanation. He later issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for engaging in inappropriate conversations and physical contact with a female state McColley served two Ohio House terms and had been this session’s assistant majority whip. GOP Senate President Larry Obhof (AWB’-hawf) said McColley has “the character and experience to represent the people of northwestern Ohio.”

Jailer indicted on sex charge

HAMILTON — A corrections officer accused of having sex with an inmate at a county jail in southwest Ohio has been indicted on charges including sexual battery. AButler County grand jury indicted 28-year-old Nakisha Newell on two sexual battery counts. The Monroe woman also was indicted on one count of illegal conveyance into a detention facility for allegedly bringing a cellphone and electronic cigarettes into the Butler County Jail. Newell’s attorney, Mike Allen, entered a not-guilty plea to the charges Tuesday on her behalf and told the judge she wasn’t a flight risk. Allen said Newell was expected to be released on $5,000 bond. Newell was arrested Nov. 27 and fired from the jail. She had worked there as a corrections officer for 18 months.

Man gets probation for killing cat

AKRON — A man who pleaded no contest to killing his roommate’s cat by throwing it against a wall has been sentenced to two years’ probation. The judge said Tuesday that prison time wasn’t an option for University of Akron student Matthew McCullough, 21. A state law mandates probation for the first offense of certain low-level felonies that are not deemed violent. A new law last year elevated certain animal cruelty offenses from misdemeanors to fifth-degree felonies, but prosecutor Justin Richard says the cat’s death was treated as a “property crime.” The Akron Beacon Journal reports that McCullough apologized at the sentencing. Attorney Reid Yoder said McCullough is “not a deviant.” The cat allegedly scratched and urinated on McCullough. Yoder called the killing a “momentary lapse of judgment.”

Mom of boy who OD’d gets probation

YOUNGSTOWN — The mother of a 9-year-old Ohio boy who fatally overdosed on cocaine has received probation instead of prison. The sentencing Tuesday for Raenell Allen, 38, of Youngstown, on a child endangering charge comes days after her boyfriend, Kevin Gamble, 38, received 4-1/2 years in prison for the death last December of 9-year-old Marcus Lee. Prosecutors and a defense attorney recommended the sentence as part of a plea deal after Allen agreed to testify against Gamble if needed. Gamble pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in October. Prosecutors say the cocaine belonged to Gamble, but it remains unclear how Marcus got access to the drugs. Allen told prosecutors that Marcus was autistic and would sometimes put things into his mouth.