Ohio News Briefs


Owner of dog found frozen on porch is charged with cruelty

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The owner of a dog found frozen solid on a porch in Ohio has been charged with animal cruelty.

Officials with the humane society in Toledo filed the charges against 40-year-old Victor Vallejo.

Animal investigators with the agency say the female dog was found frozen solid and curled up on a porch during the bitter cold snap in late December.

A message seeking comment was left for Vallejo on Tuesday. He earlier told media outlets that he had fallen on hard times and was living elsewhere and checking on his dogs every few days.

The humane society says a second dog that was seized from inside the same house is recovering from apparent signs of neglect.

Democrat O’Neill adds educator to Ohio governor ticket

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill picked a Cleveland educator on Tuesday as his running mate in the race for governor, adding diversity in race, age and experience that he contended will resonate with Democrats across the state.

Chantelle E. Lewis, of East Cleveland, is a former city council member and school board member, a one-time Cleveland schools teacher and a current elementary school principal in Lorain County.

She is only the second running mate to be announced by the crowded Democratic gubernatorial field, which includes former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. Ex-Congressman and Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich filed paperwork Monday for expected entry into the fray.

Three Republicans are also in the race to succeed GOP Gov. John Kasich, who can’t run again due to term limits.

O’Neill, 70, caused a national stir in November when he volunteered candid details of his sexual past on Facebook in an attempt to take a swipe at the “media frenzy” over sexual misconduct. He later apologized.

On Tuesday, he called the addition of Lewis to his ticket “a dream come true.” The jurist, military veteran and nurse said the 42-year-old Lewis, who is black, brings a diversity and experience to his team that will resonate with Democratic voters. He said she has two master’s degrees and is working on her doctorate.

“I’m a white male nurse running with a black female teacher,” he said. “It can’t get more diverse than our ticket.”

O’Neill has submitted his resignation from the bench effective Jan. 26.

He was drawn flak for campaigning while seated on the bench, which critics — including Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor — have said is a violation of judicial conduct rules.

O’Neill contends he is not violating a prohibition on campaigning for another office while serving on the court, because he will not legally become a “candidate” until he formally files his paperwork.

Lawsuit challenges ‘racial quota’ in Ohio marijuana program

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A company that wasn’t chosen among the dozen big medical marijuana growers in Ohio’s new program is challenging the state requirement that 15 percent of those licenses go to minority-owned groups.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the lawsuit filed last month alleges Hilliard-based PharmaCann Ohio Inc. was bumped from the list of successful applicants because “an unconstitutional racial quota” elevated companies that scored lower in the bid rankings. PharmaCann is asking a county judge to block the state from using such quotas to determine licenses.

Experts have questioned whether the quota would stand in court.

The state Department of Commerce asked the court to dismiss PharmaCann’s lawsuit, arguing that getting a state license to grow marijuana isn’t a federal right and that the company didn’t appeal the department’s licensing decision.

Cincinnati shot-tracker shows most gunfire isn’t reported

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati police say data from high-tech devices installed to track the sound of gunfire in the city show that people call 911 in only about one out of every six of those incidents.

The city began using a ShotSpotter system in August that covers the Avondale neighborhood and parts of others.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the system detected 257 instances of gunfire during the first four months of use. Officials say 911 calls were made for only 40 of those instances, meaning nearly 85 percent of the gunfire wasn’t reported.

Why? Authorities and activists says people may get accustomed to hearing gunfire, or feel that they don’t have enough information to get involved or that responding wouldn’t be a priority for police — a perception disputed by the department.

Group home administrator pleads guilty in resident’s death

MADISON, Ohio (AP) — The former administrator of a northeast Ohio group home has pleaded guilty to charges of reckless homicide and patient abuse in connection with the death of an 85-year-old resident.

Fifty-five-year-old Alice Ramsey entered the plea Monday after reaching an agreement with prosecutors to drop a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Ramsey was the administrator at Hubbard Road Meadows Assisted Living in Madison Township when resident Mary Srpan was injured Jan. 3, 2017. She died two weeks later.

The state mental health department found that staff could not initially get into Srpan’s room when visitors heard loud banging from inside. After retrieving keys, staff found Srpan with her head lodged in a nightstand.

The facility’s license was revoked after investigators found that it had failed to report multiple deaths and injuries.

Police officer sentenced for drinking alcohol at gun range

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Cincinnati police officer has pleaded guilty to a probation violation of drinking alcohol during firearms training at a gun range.

WXIX-TV reports the judge told 46-year-old Officer David Jenkins “you need to get a handle on it,” before sentencing him Monday to continue his probation, undergo an alcohol treatment program and wear an alcohol monitoring device.

Court records show Jenkins had a .053 blood alcohol level at the training Dec. 20. He was on probation at the time for a disorderly conduct conviction.

He pleaded guilty to the charge after his arrested in March for carrying an AR-15 rifle and acting as a police officer while off duty and drunk.

Police union President Sgt. Dan Hils said Monday Jenkins is “a good person who is struggling.”

Authorities: Woman charged with cruelty in dogs’ deaths

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say an Ohio woman accused in the deaths of three dogs found dead due to neglect and cold weather and the malnourishment of four other dogs has been charged with animal cruelty.

Butler County authorities say Melissa Damico was charged with three felony and four misdemeanor animal cruelty counts.

County Dog Warden Kurt Merbs said in a statement that a check on seven dogs on Damico’s property in St. Clair Township found three deceased due to neglect and cold weather and four others alive, but severely malnourished.

Merb says Damico had moved to a new home, abandoning the dogs. He said they had no food, water or appropriate shelter from the weather.

Damico was taken to the county jail in Hamilton. Court records don’t list an attorney for her.

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