Ohio News Briefs

Underage party host sentenced for fatally shooting Ohio teen

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (AP) — A western Ohio man who admitted that he fatally shot a teenager while hosting a drinking party has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Twenty-year-old Evan Hoffman, of Bloom Center, pleaded guilty last month to reckless homicide and was sentenced Monday.

Investigators have said Hoffman told them he shot the 16-year-old Jackson Center boy in self-defense.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Hoffman’s attorneys argued that the teen threated Hoffman after being told to leave the party last December and was shot when he later returned and kicked in a door.

The victim’s father told the newspaper the teen was there to get his things, not to hurt anyone.

Hoffman previously pleaded guilty to buying and consuming alcohol while underage and was sentenced to six months behind bars, plus probation.

Ohio regulators get $1.8M for medical marijuana program

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two agencies that will regulate Ohio’s forthcoming medical marijuana program are getting the $1.8 million they sought from the state to start that work.

The law that legalizes certain types of medical marijuana in Ohio takes effect Sept. 8, though the program isn’t expected to be fully operational for some time.

About $923,000 of the initial funding goes to the Department of Commerce. It will license cultivators, processors and laboratories that test the drug, as well as lead the creation of a related research database.

The state pharmacy board will get about $882,000. Its roles include licensing medical marijuana dispensaries, upgrading the state’s automated prescription reporting system and creating a patient/caregiver registry.

Rep. Dan Ramos, of Lorain, announced the release of the funds Monday.

Judge allows online charter’s suit against Ohio to continue

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s largest online charter school may proceed with a lawsuit that seeks to block an enrollment audit the state says is necessary to determine its future funding, a judge ruled.

In denying the Ohio Department of Education’s request to dismiss legal action brought by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jenifer French said the school’s claims that the department is breaching its financial agreement and attempting to single out ECOT warrant further airing in court.

French said in deciding whether to toss the case that the court must assume the school’s allegations are true. “ODE’s attempt to dispute the allegation that ECOT was singled out does not provide a basis” for dismissal, she wrote in the ruling, released late Monday.

The state argued it has treated 10 other e-schools the same as the Electronic Classroom, which has been engaged in a high-stakes fight with the state that’s included both legal action and television ads.

In court filings, the Education Department told the judge that even singling out the Electronic Classroom would be a rational action, given the more than $100 million the school has received in state taxpayer dollars just in the most recent fiscal year.

Neil Clark, a spokesman for the school, welcomed French’s ruling.

“ODE has wanted to act as legislator, judge, jury and executioner for e-schools,” he said in a statement. “Today the court rejected that abuse of power.”

Court: Ohio township broke law voting out deployed trustee

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A township board broke the law by removing a member deployed with the Ohio National Guard and replacing him with a trustee who had just lost a re-election bid, the state Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The unanimous ruling said Spencer Township’s trustees violated a law that says a township office can’t be deemed vacant when an official is in active military service.

The township board near Toledo called an emergency meeting on New Year’s Eve to vacate the seat of the deployed trustee, Shawn Valentine, who was serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Board member D. Hilarion Smith was about to lose his own seat after being defeated in December’s election. He and another trustee, Michael Hood, voted during the emergency meeting to appoint himself to Valentine’s seat.

Smith and Hood said they vacated Valentine’s seat because he had been absent from the township for 90 consecutive days.

Smith said Valentine did not tell the board about his deployment or say how long he would be gone, and Hood questioned whether Valentine was in the military. Valentine said he informed both the board and county prosecutor’s office about his deployment.

Messages seeking comment on the court’s decision were left with Smith and Hood on Tuesday.

The county prosecutor took the case against the board to court after Smith refused to resign.

The state Supreme Court’s decision said Valentine was the rightful holder of the seat, and it invalidated board actions taken by Smith since the beginning of the year. It said Smith should no longer be allowed to stay in the office.

Smith submitted a resignation in February, but it came after a court deadline.

The court also said the meeting where Valentine’s seat was vacated violated the state’s Open Meetings Act because not enough public notice was given.