Ohio News Briefs


Ohio measure eases drug crime penalties, may trim sentences

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohioans will vote in November on whether to reduce penalties for non-violent drug crimes while allowing many current inmates to seek shorter sentences.

Issue 1 would reduce purchase, possession or use of a host of drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and LSD, from felony to misdemeanor offenses. Jail time couldn’t be imposed until the third offense.

The constitutional amendment also allows reductions of up to 25 percent on the sentences of current inmates who participate in rehabilitation, work or educational programming. Only murderers, rapists and child molesters are ineligible.

Opponents argue the measure removes key leverage from judges and prosecutors, particularly when addiction and substance abuse is involved, and is overly broad and dangerous.

Supporters say cost savings would leave more money for drug treatment and crime victim compensation.

Wright State faculty union threatens strike

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Wright State University’s unionized faculty members are threatening to strike ahead of a fact-finder’s report that’s due next month.

Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors will hold two meetings before they vote on the report. The union has scheduled a strike date for Oct. 1.

According to the union, Wright State’s contract proposal offered up earlier this year didn’t include raises. They say it reduced health care benefits as well.

The board of trustees voted last year to cut $30 million from the university’s budget. Administrators expect another decline in revenue this year due to enrollment and other issues.

WSU spokesman Seth Bauguess says the university won’t comment on the strike date while negotiations are still ongoing.

Dad charged in death of baby in hot car pleads not guilty

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man whose 6-month-old daughter died after she was found unresponsive in a hot car last month has pleaded not guilty to a charge of child endangering.

Christopher Stewart pleaded not guilty to the charge Thursday in a Medina County court. The 22-year-old Lodi man was indicted this week.

Medina police said the baby was found unresponsive July 14 in a car in Ray Mellert Park. They said the baby was transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

A police release said the preliminary cause of death is heat-related. A police report says the child was left in the car for about two hours.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday at the office of Stewart’s attorney.

Medina is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Cleveland.

Man sentenced for harassing voicemails left at synagogues

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of leaving harassing voicemails at Jewish houses of worship in two Cleveland suburbs has been sentenced to six months in jail and fined $700.

Court records show Abdulrahman Abukhalil (ab-duhl-RAH’-man ah-buh-kah-LEEL’) was sentenced Wednesday on telephone harassment charges. He pleaded no contest to the charges in June.

Authorities said Abukhalil left voicemails in January at Heights Jewish Center Synagogue in University Heights and Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights. Court records say the synagogue in University Heights reported threatening and anti-Semitic messages.

The judge Wednesday ordered Abukhalil to stay away from both synagogues, not to harass anyone and to seek mental and substance abuse treatment that is deemed appropriate after he is released from jail and begins four years of probation.

Abukhalil’s attorney declined to comment.

Bald eagles roosting in Cleveland now raising young birds

CLEVELAND (AP) — Officials say a pair of bald eagles that were the first to roost in Cleveland’s industrial valley in over a century now has two fledgling eagles.

The young eagles won’t have the trademark white heads and tails for some years, but have been seen soaring above the Cuyahoga River near their nest. The Plain Dealer reports the eagle parents will continue to deliver fish and other prey to their young until they learn to forage on their own, which occurs 4 to 10 weeks after leaving the nest.

Bald eagles typically live for 15 to 20 years in the wild. The nest is located in a cottonwood tree on a narrow stretch of green space situated amid factories and landfills.

$3.4M awarded to female ex-firefighter over harassment claim

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $3.35 million to a female ex-firefighter in Ohio who says she was the longtime victim of sexual harassment.

Amie Morningstar of the Circleville Fire Department alleged she was subjected to equipment tampering, clothing destruction and gender-related slurs. She also said she was required to meet tougher training and work standards than male counterparts and denied promotions because she’s a woman.

A federal lawsuit said the harassment got worse after she reported it to her superiors. Circleville is about 30 miles south of Columbus. A jury found in favor of Morningstar on Wednesday. Messages were left for attorneys representing Circleville.

Morningstar’s attorney, Brian Duncan, says she was fired in 2016 after not reporting to work when she’d used up all of her personal leave.