A judge in Mahoning County Court on Thursday decided to forego the sentence recommendation that had been agreed-on between the prosecution and defense in the defendant’s case. With 26-year-old Richard Williams facing the bench, he listened as the judge admonished him following his September guilty pleas to a long list of charges for a string of crimes: Felonious assault, identity fraud, records-tampering, possession of fentanyl, receiving stolen property and a firearms count. He had fired shots at people in 2016, rammed a police cruiser in his attempt to avoid arrest last November and earned the nickname “El Chapo” on the street. Though prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to a three-year sentence for Williams, the judge cited what he called his “reckless and life-threatening” actions – then imposed a five-year prison term.
NFL owners have pledged Millions of dollars to help fund construction at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton. The decision is significant, due to the fact that until now, the League hasn’t contributed any funds to the massive expansion and development project near the Hall on the city’s north side along I-77. While the late New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson had previously donated 11-Million dollars to the effort, this is the first time that owners as a whole have agreed to a contribution. At the League’s Fall Meetings this week, owners voted to provide up to 10-Million dollars to the cause. The 268-Million dollar second phase of the project includes construction of two hotels, additional youth fields, fieldhouse, a convention area, retail and office space and an indoor water park.
A kennel in the Cleveland area has put-out a call for help after a dog was found abandoned in a cemetery – left tied to a trash can at the graveyard. Officials at Middleburg Heights Animal Kennel say the small dog was found at Woodvale Cemetery and they have no idea how long the pooch had been there before someone came along. A number of people have already inquired about possibly adopting the dog – but there are medical issues that need to be addressed first – and they’re seeking help to pay for the treatment to get the puppy back to health.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office on Thursday afternoon announced a multi-state settlement with Johnson & Johnson and one of its subsidiaries – which have agreed to fork-over nearly 117-Million dollars for deceptive marketing of transvaginal surgical mesh devices. Under the deal, Ohio is getting 6.3-Million dollars of the settlement money after an investigation determine the companies had violated state Consumer Protection laws. Specifically, they misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of the devices and failed to properly disclose any risk associated with their use.
With details about the tentative agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers beginning to come to light, it appears all hope is lost for the resumption of production at the former GM Lordstown Assembly Plant. Leaders from the union and the automaker met in Detroit on Thursday to discuss a few of the contract details, announcing it’s a four-year package with a mix of pay raises, lump sum payments and an 11-Thousand dollar signing bonus for rank and file members lucky enough to still have their jobs. Unfortunately, the Union bargaining team agreed with GM’s plan to permanently close the Lordstown Plant along with others in Warren, Michigan and near Baltimore, Maryland. The Lordstown facility was targeted for closure in November last year, despite being one of the most efficient and productive operations in the General Motors fold.
Though Akron Police have recovered the stolen wheels, the suspects in a carjacking on the city’s west side remain at large. Police report the incident happened shortly after 6:30 Wednesday evening near the intersection of Work Drive and Wildwood Avenue, where a 56-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman were inside a car when it was bumped from behind by the suspect’s vehicle. A man approached the driver’s side window, pointed a gun at the occupants and ordered them out, stealing the man’s wallet in the process. He got into the victim’s car and drove-off while an accomplice drove the suspects’ vehicle from the scene. The stolen car was recovered on the west side around 3:00AM Thursday. Police are looking for a black male around 23 years old with short dreadlocks and a “lazy eye” along with a second black male around the same age and five-feet-nine in height. Both are considered armed and dangerous.
A murder case in Michigan has ended with a second conviction for the slaying of a Toledo man, whose body was found last December along a road in Lenawee County. A jury in Monroe County Circuit Court on Wednesday returned a guilty verdict on first-degree murder, armed robbery and unlawful imprisonment charges filed against 40-year-old Raymond Blanchong II of Maumee, Ohio. He was accused of killing 45-year-old James Wappner of Toledo on December 2 in Bedford Township, Michigan. The verdict came after just two hours of deliberation by the panel. Blanchong’s former fiancée, 30-year-old Jessica Morris of Maumee, was convicted on similar charges in September. She’ll be sentenced on November 14 while Blanchong gets his penalty December 2 and both are due to get life prison terms with no chance of parole. The couple arranged a meeting with Wappner for a drug deal at a Bedford motel, where surveillance footage recorded him getting into the suspects’ vehicle before the pickup truck began rocking and shaking – then left at a high rate of speed with the victim still inside. His body was found the next day about 50 feet from the side of Lipp Highway…with more than 20 stab wounds including a slashed throat.
Akron Police are investigating a burglary that was reported at a business on the city’s east side on Wednesday. Police were called to Custom Trim in the 900 block of East Buchtel Avenue shortly before 10:00AM, when the business owner reported that a hole was found cut into the chain link perimeter fence. Once the intruder got past the barricade, two unlocked vehicles were rummaged and various items were stolen from inside including a car stereo and various tools. The break-in happened some time between 8:00PM Monday and 5:00AM Tuesday. No suspect description is available.
The follow-up investigation continues into the shooting death of a man in Youngstown. Police were sent to an area along Hilton Avenue on the south side shortly after 10:00PM Wednesday, where the ShotSpotter system indicated gunfire had happened in that area. On arrival, they found the victim on the ground in the back yard of a home suffering multiple bullet wounds. The victim, described as a black male in his 20’s, was pronounced dead at the scene and his identity wasn’t immediately determined. Neighbors didn’t provide police with a description of a suspect, but said they heard as many as five gunshots. The Mahoning County Coroner’s office is conducting the autopsy.
A school building in the area was closed and classes were cancelled on Thursday and Friday, following the discovery of one little bedbug. Officials in the Brunswick Local School District say that someone saw the tiny bug inside a student’s folder at Towslee Elementary School on Wednesday. It was collected and taken to the Medina County Board of Health for confirmation before school officials decided to cancel classes for the rest of the week. A pest control company was called to sweep the building and treat it for the infestation. Classes at the school will resume on Monday.
Police in Cleveland say they’ve identified a man who allegedly sucker-punched Browns player Myles Garrett on Wednesday afternoon. Garrett called police around 3:00PM, telling officers that he was in his car and talking on his phone at Euclid Avenue and East Ninth Street, where his alleged assailant approached and asked if he could take a photo with him. After snapping the shot, he reportedly punched Garrett in the face, jumped into his own car and fled the scene. Garrett got the License Plate Number and shared it with officers, who traced the vehicle back to a 24-year-old Strongsville man. Once they showed Garrett a photo of the suspect, he was positively identified. Charges are pending as the investigation continues.
A driver has been busted on a list of charges following a police pursuit that involved several collisions with cruisers. 29-year-old Frederick Pace of Columbus allegedly rammed one cruiser around 12:30 Wednesday morning in Reynoldsburg, then led a chase into Whitehall where he’s accused of intentionally ramming the police unit head-on multiple times. Stop sticks were used to disable the car and Pace fled into some woods. While officers were looking for him, he doubled-back and stole a cruiser and fled the area into downtown Columbus, where another round of stop sticks were deployed and he tried to run on foot before he was captured. Pace was collared on initial charges of felonious assault on a police officer, theft and failure to comply. He was taken to an area hospital for observation and more charges are expected to be filed.
Two men were arrested in a drug raid on a Stark County home this week. Police in Marlboro Township began investigating after residents at a house along Meadowcreek Circle NE received a package delivery from California, addressed to a recipient named “Zack Medina.” Since no one by that name lived there, the residents dropped a dime to police – who showed-up to open the package and find bags of marijuana inside. That incident happened one day after a farmer called authorities, reporting that he found three backpacks containing more pot along with LSD, other drugs including edibles, two handguns and ammunition near a stream on his property along Edison Street. The probe led authorities to the home of 25-year-old Timothy Miller in the 6200 block of Edison Street, where police entered with a warrant to collect several bags filled with marijuana, a handgun, digital scales and other paraphernalia. Arrested along with Miller was 27-year-old Zachary Apenzeller, with both men charged with marijuana trafficking and possession. Each is also facing various other counts and were ordered held in Stark County Jail under 50-Thousand dollar bonds.
Another university here in Ohio will have a new leader soon. Wright State University near Dayton has announced that its President will be stepping-down at the end of the year, despite the fact she’s only about midway through her current five-year contract. Throughout the tenure of school President Cheryl Schrader, Wright State has been saddled with issues involving both financial and legal trouble, along with a strike by the faculty union that lasted for 20 days earlier this year. When Schrader steps-down, University Provost Sue Edwards will take the helm and serve as Interim President while the search for a new leader moves forward. Schrader’s last day will be December 31.
A third victim has lost his life in the wake of a three-vehicle crash that happened in central Ohio over the weekend. Authorities in Columbus report that 17-year-old JaShawn Scott died in a hospital of the injuries that he suffered in the wreck that happened late Saturday night. The wreck happened just after 10:00PM at the intersection of Sunbury and Morse roads, where a car driven by 18-year-old Kobie Stillwell of Gahanna collided with another car driven by a woman who is yet to be named. Stillwell’s vehicle then crashed into another that was stopped at the intersection. Pronounced dead at the scene were 24-year-old Anju Biswakarma and her unnamed sister, the woman who was driving that victim’s car. The driver’s other sister was taken to Mount Carmel Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Stillwell and two 17-year-old passengers in his car were helped out of the wreckage just before it caught fire.
A pair of Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan measure, aimed at forbidding employment or housing discrimination against people in the LGBTQ community. The bill dubbed the “Ohio Fairness Act” was announced this week by Democratic Representative Michael Skindell and his Republican counterpart, Representative Brett Hillyer. The measure has been introduced about two weeks after Democrats in Columbus were denied a request from the House Speaker to extend employment protections to gay House employees. Similar bills have been introduced in each legislative session since 2003 and one managed to pass the House in 2009 before it fell short in the Ohio Senate.
The leader of a violent street gang has been handed a life prison sentence in Federal Court for his role in the murders of five people. The US Attorney’s office announced that 34-year-old Martin Aguilar-Rivera was the head of the central Ohio branch of El Salvador’s MS-13 gang between 2015 and 2017 – a time when members of the gang became more organized, ruthless and violent in the commission of their crimes. Rivera’s attorney called the sentence “just,” since her client was looking at a likely death sentence before he decided to cop a guilty plea in a deal with the prosecution. The newly-convicted killer was among 29 from central Ohio who were charged in a racketeering conspiracy involving crimes of murder, attempted murder, assault, drug trafficking, money laundering and several other counts.
Major drug-makers and distributors are continuing to hammer the table, demanding that Plaintiffs make a deal with them to settle their claims related to the nation’s opioid crisis ahead of an upcoming trial in Federal Court. Companies are continuing to meet with attorneys general from several states, even as jury selection was continuing in Cleveland in the trial involving litigation brought by Summit and Cuyahoga counties. Arguments from both sides are due to be heard early next week, though there are some close to the ongoing negotiations who said there could soon be a tentative nationwide settlement that could be worth tens of Billions of dollars. A number of other firms have already reached settlements with the two counties to resolve their litigation…which could prove a benchmark for more than two-Thousand other lawsuits filed over the opioid crisis.
A federal judge has approved a bankruptcy plan outlined by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. that operates coal and nuclear plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
FirstEnergy solutions says it plans to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the end of the year. The company filed for bankruptcy last year and wants to separate from Akron-based First Energy Corp. A federal bankruptcy judge in Akron signed off on the company's reorganization plan Wednesday after it finalized two union labor agreements. Ohio lawmakers earlier this year approved a roughly $1 billion financial rescue for the company's two nuclear plants in Ohio. But FirstEnergy Solutions warned this week that it will take steps to close the plants if a proposal to overturn the rescue make it onto the 2020 statewide ballot.
An Ohio lawmaker from Cleveland wants to change the start time for all public schools . State Sen. Sandra Williams has introduced Senate Bill 218 which calls for classes at public schools to begin no sooner than 8:30 am. Some superintendent's oppose the idea saying it could cause a problem when it comes to transportation, saying it's better with a stagger school start time so not all the buses are trying to gets all the kids to school at one time. State Sen. Cecil Thomas says a statewide public school start time is not a good idea. He says the decision should be left to schools.