Forlani sentencing set to enter third day
Sentencing of a Cleveland-area contractor in the ongoing Cuyahoga County corruption scandal will stretch into a third day in federal court in Akron. Michael Forlani has pleaded guilty to bribery charges. Prosecutors on Wednesday called another of now-imprisoned former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora’s inner circle to testify. Steve Pumper, the former CEO of D-A-S Construction has also pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is awaiting sentencing. Pumper explained a wiretap that was played in court in which Forlani said he was paying money for votes on Cleveland City Council. Pumper said around the time that call was made he had asked Forlani to get Council President Martin Sweeney to push the city’s insurance company to settle a claim from a subcontractor. Sweeney did not return phone calls from WKSU about Pumper’s statement in court.
Girl who accused police officer of breaking her arm accused of assault
A 14-year-old Akron girl who has accused a police officer of breaking her arm in a school altercation has been charged with assaulting a teacher and a classmate more recently. A teacher at Litchfield Middle School allegedly was hit twice as the screaming girl chased a boy and threw a binder. The girl was transferred from Jennings Community Learning Center where she says her arm was broken last fall by a police officer working security. After video of the incident was posted on the internet recently, the school district reassigned the officer to another building. No charges have been filed in that case.
Utility regulators kill solar farm deal
Utility regulators have nixed a deal between American Electric Power and a massive solar farm planned for southeast Ohio, putting the project's future in jeopardy. Regulators said the utility hadn't demonstrated the Turning Point project benefited ratepayers and was necessary to meet its renewable energy requirements. The solar farm planned near the wildlife conservancy called The Wilds was expected to create hundreds of jobs and produce enough electricity to power 25,000 homes. An official says AEP Ohio is disappointed in Wednesday's ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The 3-1 vote went against the recommendation of commission staff.
FBI looking into Steubenville cyber threats
The FBI is investigating cyber threats in Steubenville that include death threats against the local sheriff's family and an email that apparently shut down the police chief's computer. The threats are amid increased attention over two high school football players who are facing rape charges. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Wednesday he'd provided the FBI a copy of an anonymous Facebook post in which someone threatened to kill his family. The rape allegations have divided the eastern Ohio community and garnered national attention.
Kasich approves funding for youth mental health help
Governor Kasich’s administration is making $5 million available for youth mental health crisis assistance. Kasich on Wednesday called the funding “a good start.” The Columbus Dispatch reports the state’s intervention program was in the works before the December 14th school shootings in Newtown, Conn. but since then, phone calls to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Ohio have topped 1,000 --- mostly from parents worried about their children struggling with mental illness. The money will be used by mental-health and developmental-disabilities agencies across the state to help defuse potentially violent situations where a child poses a danger to himself, his family or others.
Record number of voters cast absentee ballots in November
Nearly 2 million Ohioans voted an absentee ballot in last year's election — a record number for the presidential battleground state. A report from Secretary of State Jon Husted shows that absentee ballots accounts for roughly 33 percent of the more than 5.6 million votes cast in the November election, up from 30 percent in 2008. A higher number of provisional ballots also were counted last year compared with 2008. Husted says nearly 85 percent were counted, up from 80 percent. Provisional ballots include those cast when voters don't bring proper ID to the polls or cast them in the wrong precinct.
PUCO makes steps to deregulate natural gas
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has taken another step toward the deregulation of natural gas. The commission said Wednesday that two companies — Columbia Gas of Ohio and Dominion East Ohio Gas — can eliminate regulated pricing for households, with certain conditions. Supporters of deregulation say the actions will lead to greater competition and lower prices. But opponents dispute it, saying that a few dominant suppliers no longer will have to compete with the regulated price. The Columbus Dispatch reports that it's a significant step in a process that began in Ohio in the 1990s.
More than 200 fracked wells in Ohio
The state says the number of fracking wells drilled in Ohio has now topped 200. Fracking is the process of extracting oil and natural gas by drilling deep underground in to eastern Ohio’s Utica shale formation. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the mark was passed sometime last week. However, of the wells drilled, only about 50 are listed as producing. Carroll County has the most, with 27 wells producing and 52 more being drilled. Most of them are owned by Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy.
Defense spending plan spares Lima tank factory
A new defense spending plan will keep the nation's only tank manufacturing plant working for at least the next couple of years. Fighting on Capitol Hill over funding had put the northern Ohio factory's future in doubt. About 800 workers in Lima refurbish the Abrams tanks with new weapons and sophisticated systems.
Lorain County man pleads not guilty to inducing panic after cheering Newtown shootings
A Lorain County man has pleaded not guilty to inducing panic for a Facebook posting that cheered the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on Wednesday said it will defend 20-year-old Joseph Resovsky of Columbia Station and called the posting protected free speech. The post said he was happy about the shooting and later told police he just wanted to see if he could get comments. The ACLU says the posting may have been in bad taste but made no direct threats.
Columbia Station man gets probation after stealing church bells
A man with a drug problem has been placed on probation for two years for stealing five large brass bells from a northeast Ohio church. 34-year-old Brian Diamond of Columbia Station pleaded guilty to the charges. The Russian imported bells worth more than $5,000 were stolen last summer from in front of St. Innocent Orthodox Church in Olmsted Falls. They were sold for scrap for about 350-dollars. The dealer called police when he heard about the theft.