Ohio News Briefs

Senate leader leaves post in Ohio to pursue governorship

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State Sen. Joe Schiavoni is stepping down as the leader of the Ohio Senate Democratic caucus to devote more time to his run for governor.

Schiavoni announced Wednesday that he was leaving the minority leader’s job effective April 26. Senate Democrats have unanimously elected state Sen. Kenny Yuko, of Richmond Heights, as his replacement.

Schiavoni, of the Youngstown suburb of Boardman, said he will continue to serve on legislative committees, hear testimony and vote on bills.

He is one of three Democrats in the 2018 governor’s race so far. The others are former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and former state Rep. Connie Pillich.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, a Republican, recently left her job as state insurance director as she prepares for a run for governor.

Report: Warden offered inmates service hours for donation

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state watchdog says an Ohio prison warden improperly offered credit for community-service hours to inmates in exchange for $1 donations to charities of her choice.

A report released Thursday by the Inspector General also found Belmont Correctional Institution warden Michele Miller tried to remove 200,000 earned community-service hours from a report for the last three months of 2015 after she became aware of an investigation.

The report said wrongful acts occurred and the findings have been referred to a local prosecutor and the state Ethics Commission.

The report said some inmates could have had court-imposed fines and costs reduced as a result of the offer.

A call to Miller was referred to prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith, who said the state will respond to the report soon.

Man cleared as suspect in officer’s shooting considers suing

COSHOCTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man says being identified as a suspect in an officer’s shooting caused turmoil for his family, even though he was quickly cleared and investigators concluded the policeman tried to kill himself and fabricated a cover-up story.

A statewide alert named Chaz Gillilan as a suspect in what was reported as an April 11 traffic-stop shooting in Newcomerstown, about 100 miles south of Cleveland. Gillilan tells WCMH-TV that images of his distinctly tattooed face and his home still appear online, linking him to the injured officer.

The Coshocton man says people now look at him more suspiciously, and even his mother questioned his innocence. Gillilan has a lengthy criminal record but says he wouldn’t shoot an officer.

He says he’s considering a lawsuit against police.

Ohio driver dies in car fire as his mom, others can’t help

SHARONVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Officials say a driver died in a car fire in front of his mother and other witnesses who couldn’t help him escape the burning vehicle outside his Cincinnati-area apartment complex.

The man’s car apparently burst into flames Wednesday afternoon as he pulled into a parking spot in Sharonville, roughly 15 miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati. Witnesses say the 48-year-old man tried to kick open a door and pleaded for help, but others couldn’t get close enough because of the flames.

Police were withholding his name while other relatives were notified.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blaze. Investigators say they’ll review evidence from the scene to help determine a cause.

Sharonville police Sgt. Walter Cordes says that could be complicated because the flames might have destroyed evidence.

Facial reconstruction made to help ID remains found in 1989

MARION, Ohio (AP) — Authorities hope a facial reconstruction by a forensic artist can help identify skeletal remains found in an Ohio creek nearly 28 years ago.

The remains of an unidentified man were found in Flat Rock Run Creek in Marion County on July 19, 1989. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation released the reconstruction on Wednesday in Marion, about 50 miles north of Columbus.

The man was wearing blue jeans, a flannel shirt, a sweater and tennis shoes.

Authorities estimate he was between 22 and 35 years old. They believe he had dark hair, weighed about 160 pounds and was about 69 inches tall.

Officials won’t say how he died.

Authorities say anyone with relevant information should contact the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Police want traffic cameras back despite state restrictions

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Police in an Ohio city say a spike in deadly crashes is behind their push to bring back traffic cameras after abandoning them in response to state restrictions.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl says officers will need to be posted at the camera locations to actually issue tickets in order to comply with a state law passed in 2014. Police say traffic deaths have gone up 45 percent since then.

Biehl says he can only staff the 10 proposed fixed-camera sites for about eight hours a week. The city also wants to use portable cameras.

Dayton has asked the state Supreme Court to overturn the restrictions, saying they make cameras too expensive.

The state has argued officers are needed to detect malfunctions and situations that clearly call for an exemption from ticketing.

The court has not yet ruled.

Another Ohio school district allows armed staff in school

GNADENHUTTEN, Ohio (AP) — Another school district in rural eastern Ohio has approved allowing staff with firearms on school grounds and in certain school safety zones.

The Times-Reporter of Dover and New Philadelphia reports the new weapons policy was unanimously approved this week by the board for Indian Valley Local Schools in Gnadenhutten, roughly 90 miles south of Cleveland.

Superintendent Ira Wentworth says the district already identified employees who will be trained under the new policy allowing qualified staff to be armed. Wentworth wouldn’t give specifics about those employees.

Board president Bob Hall says the district is implementing the policy in a painstaking process. The change is expected to happen this fall.

Several districts in the area already allow armed staff in schools.