Ohio News Briefs


Cleveland abolishes family benefits for unmarried couples

CLEVELAND (AP) — City employees with domestic partners are now expected to marry if they want to continue receiving benefits, officials said.

Cleveland City Council on Wednesday ended the program extending family benefits to employees’ domestic partners, Northeast Ohio Media Group reported Wednesday. The council also introduced legislation to terminate the city’s domestic partner registry.

Finance Director Sharon Dumas said the registry was designed to help same-sex couples receive benefits that married couples enjoyed. But since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month legalized gay marriage across the country, those couples can now marry.

Unmarried couples can continue on the city’s health care and benefits plan until April 1.

Six city employees currently benefit from the policy extending benefits to domestic partners.

It’s not clear how the termination of the domestic partner registry will affect other businesses that might use it to offer benefits to the partners of unmarried employees. Council is expected to hold a hearing on the legislation at a later date.

City council created its domestic partner registry in 2008 to help same-sex couples obtain insurance. Those registering had to show they were sharing expenses using documents like mortgages or utility bills.

Judges uphold conviction for Ohio telemarketing millionaire

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a northeast Ohio telemarketing millionaire’s conviction on a witness tampering charge.

A three-judge panel at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Wednesday on an appeal filed by Benjamin Suarez, head of Suarez Corporation Industries in North Canton.

Authorities accused the 73-year-old Suarez of using family members, employees and others to make illegal donations totaling $100,000 each to the 2012 Republican campaigns of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (reh-NAY’-see) and the failed U.S. Senate bid of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (man-DEHL’). Suarez hoped the politicians would help him with a business-related civil matter in California.

A jury acquitted Suarez last year of conspiracy and violations of federal campaign law. A judge sentenced him to 15 months in prison in November.

18-year-old pleads not guilty in crash that killed 2 teens

CLEVELAND (AP) — The 18-year-old behind the wheel in a crash that killed two northeast Ohio high school seniors has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in connection with the wreck.

Chapin Berk pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of operation without reasonable control.

Police have said the SUV Berk was driving was traveling 55 mph in a 35 mph zone when it veered off the road and hit two trees in Gates Mills in May. Berk told police he swerved to avoid something in the street.

Eighteen-year-olds Alexander Doody and Joshua Weil died in the crash. Berk and another 18-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries.

All four teens were students at Hawken Upper School.

A message seeking comment from Berk’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

Police: 1-year-old dies after fall from 9th floor in Ohio

LAKEWOOD, Ohio (AP) — Police say a 1-year-old has died after falling from the ninth-floor window of a northeast Ohio apartment building.

It happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday in Lakewood. Police say the child fell on the backside of the building at the Castlewood Apartments into a gravel area.

Paramedics rushed the child to MetroHealth Medical Center, where the 1-year-old was taken into surgery. Police say they received word from the hospital late Wednesday night that the child had died.

Police are still investigating what led to the fall.

Ohio teen faces life sentence in slaying of pizza driver

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A 17-year-old boy will be sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for 18 years in the fatal shooting last year of a pizza delivery driver in Columbus.

The teen pleaded guilty Wednesday in adult court to murder with a gun specification in the death of 45-year-old James A. Crabtree Jr. He’ll be sentenced Sept. 16.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the boy was 16 at the time of the killing on Oct. 29.

Authorities say Crabtree was shot seven times as he sat in his car in front of a house on the city’s east side where he had gone to make a delivery for Grandma’s Pizza. He died at the scene.

A neighbor led police to the teen at a house next door.

Woman charged in death of step-grandson killed by dog

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A prosecutor says a woman accused in her dog’s fatal attack on her step-grandson has been indicted on charges including manslaughter in southwest Ohio.

The Montgomery County prosecutor’s statement says 37-year-old Kimiko Hardy was indicted Wednesday in the fatal attack on the 8-month-old baby in July 2014. The Dayton woman is charged with multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter and single counts of endangering children and failure to confine or restrain a vicious dog.

Court records don’t list an attorney for Hardy.

The dog was initially described as an American Staffordshire terrier. But the prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that it was a pit bull mix euthanized in September.

Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. says the dog attacked the baby inside Hardy’s home and investigators determined Hardy was aware the dog was dangerous.

Ohio State warns campus community after string of robberies

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University police have issued a public safety warning after a string of off-campus robberies in recent days.

The agency says six robberies have taken place between early Tuesday and early Wednesday mornings in neighborhoods east of campus where students typically live or walk.

In two of the most recent robberies police say suspects assaulted victims, while in a third robbery suspects showed a gun before robbing an individual.

Ohio State police say none of the victims was seriously injured. The department says people should take common safety precautions such as being aware of surroundings, walking with someone, avoiding unsafe situations and using campus transportation.

Senators want to change how Ohio draws congressional lines

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A bipartisan proposal in Ohio seeks to overhaul how the swing state draws its congressional districts.

The resolution from Republican Frank LaRose of Copley and Democrat Tom Sawyer of Akron mirrors a plan to change the map-making process for state legislative districts. Voters will have their say on that issue this fall.

The proposal on the ballot would create a seven-member commission to draw political boundaries.

Commission members would be the governor, secretary of state, auditor and four legislative appointees. Two minority-party votes would be needed to adopt a 10-year map. Without them, the majority could draw only short-term maps.

The Senate resolution introduced Wednesday would allow the proposed commission to draw congressional lines, too. It comes after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld congressional districts drawn by an independent commission.