Witness Charged with Tampering, Vandalism in Pike County Murder Investigation
COLUMBUS — A witness has been charged with destruction of a GPS device as part of the investigation into the murders of eight members of the Rhoden Family in Pike County.
James Manley, 40, of Pike County was charged with:
- One count of Tampering with Evidence, a felony of the third degree
- One count of Vandalism, a felony of the fifth degree
Manley is alleged to have destroyed a GPS device used in the investigation. The charges Manley faces are not uncommon when a witness destroys such a device used in a government investigation.
Attorney General DeWine Announces Arrests of Three Men for 2003 Murder of Huron County Man
NORWALK – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that three men are now facing charges in connection with the murder of Michael Sheppard, who was last seen alive in Huron County 14 years ago.
Last week, prosecutors with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section presented the case to a Huron County grand jury, which returned indictments for two counts of murder and one count of aggravated robbery against each of the following three suspects:
- Scott Hall, 44, of Clyde, Ohio
- Joshua Stamm, 35, of Titusville, Florida
- Adam White, 34, of Sandusky, Ohio
The three suspects were arrested following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).
According to investigators, the suspects shot Sheppard to death in May 2003 during a drug-related dispute. The 35-year-old’s body has not yet been located.
Local authorities requested that BCI take over the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sheppard’s disappearance in 2009. Over the course of the past 14 years, a number of law enforcement agencies contributed to the investigation including the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Huron County Sheriff’s Office, Huron Police Department, Kelleys Island Police Department, Norwalk Police Department, Perkins Township Police Department, and Sandusky Police Department.
Anyone with information on the location of Michael Sheppard’s remains should call 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).
Former Township Trustee Sentenced in Ottawa County after Receiving Improper Compensation
PORT CLINTON — A former Clay Township Trustee was sentenced in Ottawa County to community service and restitution after pleading guilty to a public corruption charge.
Donald Widmer, 60, pleaded guilty today to a bill of information of one count of Soliciting or Receiving Improper Compensation, a misdemeanor of the First Degree. Widmer was subsequently sentenced by Common Pleas Magistrate Sarah Nation to community service, a $750 fine, and $270 in restitution. Widmer also resigned his position as Clay Township Trustee as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. As a result of his conviction, Widmer is disqualified from holding any public office, employment, or position of trust in Ohio for a period of seven years from the date of conviction.
The charges related to Widmer’s service in a previous role for Clay Township as Township Superintendent. In that role, Widmer was in charge of the township cemetery. According to the charges, Widmer in 2010 received a tombstone foundation for personal use without paying for it and altered township documents to hide the enrichment. The issue was subsequently reported to authorities when it was discovered by Clay Township employees after Widmer left that position.
The investigation in this matter was conducted by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section served as special prosecutors.
Zanesville Heating and Cooling Repairman Accused of Repeat Consumer Protection Violations
ZANESVILLE — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a lawsuit against a Zanesville man accused of repeatedly failing to deliver promised heating and cooling services to Ohio consumers.
The lawsuit accuses Alan Vohs, doing business as Alan Able Heating and Cooling, of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act.
In 2016, the Muskingum County Common Pleas Court entered a judgment against Vohs for similar violations after the Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a consumer protection lawsuit against him in 2015. Under the judgment, Vohs was ordered to pay $7,912 to reimburse nine consumers and he was prohibited from entering into new consumer transactions until he fulfilled his obligations under the judgment.
According to the new lawsuit, Vohs has made no payments under the 2016 judgment and has continued to violate the law by taking money from consumers for service he never provided or for work that was shoddy.
Since the previous case, 11 additional consumers have filed complaints about Vohs with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau. Estimated damages among those 11 consumers total more than $7,800.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Muskingum County Common Pleas Court, accuses Vohs of failing to deliver promised services, performing shoddy work, failing to register his business name with the Ohio Secretary of State, engaging in consumer transactions while owing money to consumers under a previous judgment, and failing to give consumers proper notice of their right to cancel.
In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks reimbursement for consumers and an injunction to prohibit Vohs from engaging in consumer transactions in Ohio.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.
DeWine, 50 Attorneys General Request Congressional Action on Health Care Fraud Recoveries
DeWine was joined by 50 attorneys general in calling for congressional action to fix a quirk in federal law which prevents states from receiving equitable shares of health care fraud recoveries. The letter, which was co-written by DeWine and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D), was sent to United States Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Commttee.
The letter urges the Senate to adopt legislation to allow the United States Treasury to return to states money from health care fraud recoveries which through a statutory quirk are not currently being returned to states. Medicaid is jointly funded by states and the federal government. After the establishment of the Medicare Part D prescription Drug Benefit, Medicare began directly paying for prescription benefits for persons eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, also called dual eligibles. While historically fraud recoveries from Medicaid drug benefits were shared between the states and federal government, the Federal government believes that current law prohibits it from sharing fraud recoveries involving Medicare Part D dual eligibles with states due to the way the federal statutes are drafted, even though the program is jointly funded by the states and federal government.
“We therefore strongly urge you to consider appropriate legislation authorizing the Federal government to return an equitable share of Part D recoveries to the states,” DeWine and the attorneys general wrote in their letter.
Over the last 10 years, the federal government has recovered tens of millions of dollars in pharmaceutical fraud settlements involving Part D drugs.
In addition to Ohio and North Carolina, the letter was signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Former Nursing Home Business Office Manager Sentenced to Prison for Theft from Residents
CINCINNATI — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters announced that the former business office manager for an area nursing home has been sentenced to prison after an investigation found that he stole money from more than 100 residents over a period of several years.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Charles Kubicki sentenced Brian Frawley, 42, of Covington, Kentucky, to four years in prison.
Frawley, who was previously employed as the business office manager for Clifton Care Center, pleaded guilty in April to a charge of theft from a person in a protected class, a felony of the first degree.
Agents with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit found that Frawley stole more than $173,000 from more than 150 elderly and/or disabled Clifton Care Center residents between December 1, 2008 and March 31, 2013. The investigation found that Frawley stole cash from resident trust fund accounts and made false entries in trust fund ledgers in an attempt to cover up the theft.
“The victims in this case trusted the defendant to manage their resident trust funds, but he abused that trust to fill his own pockets,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The money he stole should have been used toward the wellbeing of each resident, but the defendant instead spent it on himself.”
Frawley was also ordered to pay $60,000 in restitution. The remaining losses were covered by insurance.
The case was prosecuted by attorneys with the office of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters.
Anyone who suspects Medicaid fraud or patient neglect, abuse, or exploitation should contact Attorney General DeWine’s Office at 800-282-0515. The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit enforces Ohio’s Patient Abuse and Neglect Law, which protects the mentally and physically disabled and the elderly from neglect, abuse, and exploitation in Ohio’s long-term care facilities.
Campbell Man Accused of Consumer
YOUNGSTOWN — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a consumer protection action against George N. Krinos, doing business as Windows, Doors, Kitchens, and More Construction Co., for failing to deliver promised home improvement services to consumers.
The lawsuit, filed in the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, alleges that Krinos used the name “George Nicholis” in his business dealings as Windows, Doors, Kitchens, and More, and offered home improvement work, such as roofing services and home remodeling, in northeast Ohio.
Krinos is accused of accepting money from consumers but failing to complete projects or doing shoddy work. Among three unresolved complaints against Windows, Doors, Kitchens, and More, consumer losses total approximately $12,200.
In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks reimbursement for consumers and injunctive relief to stop further violations.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or by calling 800-282-0515.
Attorney General DeWine Announces Multistate Settlement with Target over 2013 Data Breach
DeWine announced that Ohio has joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia in a settlement with the Target Corporation to resolve a multistate investigation into the company’s 2013 data breach.
The settlement requires Target to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program to protect customers’ personal information.
“Protecting the privacy and security of consumers’ personal information is critical,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Identity theft is a big concern for many Ohioans, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve made cybersecurity a priority. This settlement is another way to help safeguard consumers’ personal information and protect them from data breaches and identity theft.”
The states’ investigation, led by Connecticut and Illinois, found that in November 2013, cyber attackers accessed Target’s gateway server through credentials stolen from a third-party vendor. The credentials then were used to exploit weaknesses in Target’s system, which allowed the attackers to access a customer service database, to install malware on the system, and to capture data, including consumer names, telephone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, payment card numbers and expiration dates, and encrypted debit personal identification numbers (PINs).
The breach affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and contact information for more than 60 million customers.
Under the settlement, Target is required to employ an executive or officer responsible for executing the information security program and to hire an independent, qualified third party to conduct a comprehensive security assessment. Target also is required to maintain and support software on its network, to maintain appropriate encryption policies (particularly for cardholder and personal information data), to segment its cardholder data environment from the rest of its computer network, and to undertake steps to control access to its network, including implementing password rotation policies and two-factor authentication for certain accounts. Target also agrees to pay $18.5 million to the states.
Participating in the settlement are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
New BCI Crime Laboratory Unveiled in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined officials from Clark County and the city of Springfield to unveil a new Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) crime laboratory.
Scientists working at the new laboratory, which is located in the Springfield/Clark County Public Safety Building on Fountain Avenue, will focus exclusively on drug testing. Scientists will test drugs submitted from local law enforcement agencies in Clark County as well as drug evidence submitted from elsewhere in the state.
Local officials approached the Attorney General’s Office with a proposal to turn their local crime laboratory into a BCI crime laboratory in 2015, after the retirement of their scientist. After an agreement was entered into in 2016, Clark County and the city of Springfield remodeled their old crime laboratory and purchased new, state-of-the-art chemistry instruments for drug testing. Springfield is also funding the salary of one scientist.
The new laboratory will be staffed with two highly trained and experienced BCI drug chemistry scientists who will focus on testing all forms of drugs, including complex mixtures of opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil.
Statewide, BCI has Drug Chemistry Units at its three other crime laboratories located in London, Richfield, and Bowling Green. To help test the increasing number of complex opioid submissions, Attorney General DeWine also recently authorized the expansion of the Drug Chemistry Unit by an additional six new scientist positions. In 2016, BCI scientists statewide reported 5,768 cases involving heroin, 2,396 cases involving fentanyl, and 214 cases involving carfentanil.
The London, Richfield, and Bowling Green laboratories are accredited by the American National Standards Institute-American Society for Quality (ANSI-ASQ) National Accreditation Board. The Springfield laboratory will follow BCI’s current accredited policies and will be assessed for its own accreditation in 2018.
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