Ohio News Briefs


Democrat says he will challenge veteran GOP US Rep. Chabot

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Asian-American Democrat who scored a stunning upset in Hamilton County’s 2016 election plans to take on a veteran Republican congressman.

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab (AF’-tab) Pureval (PER’-uh-vuhl) announced plans Wednesday to run in Ohio’s House District 1, which 65-year-old Steve Chabot (SHAH’-but) has served 20 years. At least two other Democrats have said they are running. The filing deadline for the May 8 primary is Feb. 7.

First elected in 1994, Chabot was unseated in 2008 elections as Barack Obama led the Democratic ticket. He won his seat back in 2010, and has benefited from a redrawn district adding GOP-dominated Warren County.

Thirty-five-year-old Pureval is the son of an India-born father and a Tibet-born mother. He defeated GOP incumbent clerk Tracy Winkler, of a well-connected local family.

Apartment fire forces residents to leap from windows

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Firefighters say residents forced to jump from a burning three-story apartment complex in Ohio have been taken to hospitals for treatment.

Fire officials say 13 people were taken to hospitals in Columbus after the overnight fire Wednesday.

Authorities say that none of the injuries are life-threatening and that most of the residents were hurt after jumping out of their windows. A few people suffered minor burns in the fire near downtown Columbus.

Residents told firefighters they were forced jump because the apartment building’s hallway exits were filled with fire and smoke.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately determined.

Traficant aide sentenced for theft from woman with dementia

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A woman who served as an aide to the late U.S. Rep. James Traficant has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from a woman with dementia.

The Vindicator reports attorney Sam Amendolara sought probation for 70-year-old Linda Kovachik, of Youngstown, and called Tuesday’s sentence “obscene,” blaming it on Kovachik’s ties to Traficant. Amendolara says the amount was closer to $50,000.

Kovachik pleaded guilty to felony theft in November for stealing from a 76-year-old woman she’d befriended in 2013 and from whom she obtained a power of attorney.

Mahoning County Judge Anthony D’Apolito called Kovachik an “opportunist.”

Traficant died in 2014 after a tractor tipped over on him. The Youngstown-area Democrat served seven years in federal prison after being convicted of bribery charges in 2002.

Ohio authorities say high school student fatally shot

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in southwest Ohio say a high school student has been fatally shot by another student at a residence.

WXIX-TV reports that Ross High School Principal Brian Martin told parents in a recorded message that junior Austin Hensley was fatally shot around 6 p.m. Tuesday in Ross Township, 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Hamilton.

Authorities say a 17-year-old Ross student has been arrested and is being held at the Butler County Juvenile Justice Center. A criminal complaint says the shooting occurred during a robbery.

Martin assured parents that students are safe at school and said additional staff will be available to support students and teachers.

Martin said any time “a young person’s life is cut short, it is a tragedy.”

Prosecutor: Man wrapped woman’s face with tape to quiet her

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio prosecutor says a man on trial for aggravated murder wrapped duct tape around his neighbor’s face because she was too noisy and kept him awake.

Testimony began Tuesday in Cincinnati for the trial of 29-year-old Kayle Taylor. He’s charged with killing 54-year-old Tammy Wiley in July 2016.

WXIX-TV reports Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Jackie Stachowiak told jurors during opening statements Wiley’s face was wrapped in duct tape and that she choked to death on vomit.

Taylor’s attorney said drugs caused Wiley’s death and that cellphone records indicate Taylor was at work when she died. Toxicology tests showed Wiley, who had Stage 4 cancer, had fentanyl in her system.

Stachowiak said investigators found Taylor’s shoe print in Wiley’s apartment and a matching roll of duct tape in his residence.

Demonstrators protest deportation of Ohio businessman

CLEVELAND (AP) — The daughter of an Ohio businessman who was deported after nearly 40 years in the United States says he has arrived safely in his native Jordan.

Cleveland.com reports that Lina Adi relayed the message from her father, Amer Othman, at a rally Tuesday night in Cleveland. She said she was devastated by her father’s deportation, but said it was beautiful to see a crowd of about 100 people gathered in the frigid cold to support his cause.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan decried the deportation, calling it “a sad day for Amer, his family and our entire community.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says multiple U.S. courts have said Othman didn’t have a legal basis to remain in the country.

Ex-treasurer pleads guilty to theft from firefighters union

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — The former treasurer of an Ohio firefighters union has pleaded guilty to stealing almost half a million dollars in union funds.

Investigators say 41-year-old Joseph Ruhlin stole the money from the Akron firefighters union from 2011 to 2017. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of theft in office and tampering with records as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Ruhlin’s attorney says the amount of restitution that Ruhlin will have to pay is still being determined. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13.

Ohio justice urges judges to avoid excessive fines, bail

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court is urging judges to avoid imposing excessive fines, fees or bail simply to raise money.

Republican Justice Maureen O’Connor says judges’ focus on the business side of courts sometimes comes at the expense of courts’ responsibility to provide justice.

O’Connor sent a letter Monday to more than 650 judges reminding them to follow constitutional standards of fairness, especially if fees create an undue burden on poor defendants.

O’Connor was responding to a U.S. Justice Department decision late last year to rescind Obama-era court guidance. That guidance noted the Constitution prohibits jailing people simply because they can’t afford to pay.

The ACLU of Ohio on Tuesday praised O’Connor for sending the letter.