ASHLAND, Ohio (AP) — A man has been convicted in the slayings of two women whose bodies were found underneath piles of clothes in what was thought to be a vacant Ohio home.
Shawn Grate could be sentenced to death on the aggravated-murder and kidnapping convictions.
Jurors took only a few hours on Monday (May 7) to reach a verdict in the 2016 strangulation deaths of the two women.
Grate was arrested after a third woman escaped from the Ashland home where the bodies of the other two women were found.
He also has been linked to the deaths of three other women elsewhere but hasn’t been charged in those killings.
The 41-year-old last week pleaded guilty to 15 charges including rape and abuse of a corpse.
Ohio State shares updates on independent investigation of allegations involving former university physician
Ohio State News May 3, 2018
Sexual misconduct allegations involve physician who was at the university from mid-1970s to 1990s
COLUMBUS – The Ohio State University shared a status report today in an ongoing independent investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against a former university-employed physician.
The original allegations were contained in a report from an alleged victim who indicated he and others experienced sexual misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss. Dr. Strauss was employed by the university from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Dr. Strauss died in 2005.
Since the April 5 announcement of the allegations and investigation, the university has learned that during his time at Ohio State, Dr. Strauss treated student-athletes from several sports, worked at the medical center, and the student health center. To date, the investigative team has received confidential reports from former Ohio State varsity men student-athletes affiliated with cheerleading, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball and wrestling. We are sharing this information to encourage our community past and present to come forward.
It is important that anyone with information about incidents relating to Dr. Strauss and his time at Ohio State contact investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The university will continue to provide updates and report the outcome of the investigation upon its completion.
The university originally communicated that Bricker & Eckler LLP would be leading the investigation, but a legal conflict precluded its involvement. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office appointed Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP as legal counsel for the university, and in turn, Porter Wright engaged Perkins Coie LLP to conduct an independent investigation of the matter. Its work is in progress. The investigative team at Perkins Coie is led by two partners in its White Collar & Investigations practice with extensive relevant experience: Markus Funk, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, and Caryn Trombino, a former federal government ethics attorney.
This matter has been referred to the Columbus Division of Police and the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for any potential criminal investigation. The Attorney General has committed the resources of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to assist in any criminal investigation, if requested.
Ohio State actively promotes a safe and healthy campus climate for students, faculty, staff and visitors. The university does not tolerate sexual misconduct and is committed to advancing a culture of civility and respect. If anyone has experienced any form of sexual misconduct while enrolled at Ohio State, and the incident involved another student or university employee, they are encouraged to report to the Office of University Compliance and Integrity, our anonymous reporting service or law enforcement.
If anyone has experienced any form of sexual misconduct at any point outside of Ohio State, please contact local law enforcement. Additional resources include:
If you reside in the Columbus, Ohio, area, advocates from the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO) can assist you in reporting, explain the investigation process and accompany you to any meeting. SARNCO’s confidential, 24/7 support hotline is 614-267-7020.
If you do not reside in the Columbus area, you can contact the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, a confidential, 24/7 resource, at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). You can also visit the website to chat live with a representative. Advocates will help you find a resource in your community.
Attorney General DeWine Files Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against Discovery Tours
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
May 11, 2018
CLEVELAND —Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Discovery Tours, a tour company accused of taking money for services it never provided to families and schools across Ohio.
The lawsuit accuses the company of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act by failing to deliver promised services and operating in a precarious financial situation.
“We believe Discovery Tours violated consumer protection laws and must be held accountable,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Families and schools across the state trusted this company, and their trust was betrayed.”
Since May 2, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received over 700 complaints about Discovery Tours, primarily from parents who said they had paid the company hundreds of dollars for a school trip before the company canceled trips and shut down. In some cases, they said their kids had been looking forward to the trip for years or that they had held fundraisers to be able to travel to Washington D.C. or another location.
An investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section found that the company had continued to accept money from schools and parents when it knew (or should have known) consumers would not receive the promised services.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, seeks an injunction to stop any further violations of Ohio consumer protection laws and an order requiring the company to reimburse affected consumers.
Affected consumers who have not yet filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office may do so at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
Constitutional Amendment Petition Resubmission Related to Marijuana Legalization Certified
COLUMBUS — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office certified a resubmitted petition for a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution which would attempt to legalize marijuana in the state.
On April 30, 2018, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received a written petition to amend the Ohio Constitution, entitled “Marijuana Rights and Regulations” from legal counsel for the petitioning committee. The initial submission was rejected on April 9, 2018, due to deficiencies in the petition summary. The resubmitted petition was certified today as containing both the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed amendment.
“Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred, but pursuant to the duties imposed upon the Attorney General’s Office […] I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stated in the certification letter.
Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.
The full text of the letters and the amendment petition submitted can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/Petitions.
Wilmington Man Indicted in Alleged Fence Scam
CINCINNATI — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today (May 14) announced that a Wilmington man has been indicted for allegedly taking tens of thousands of dollars from southwest Ohio consumers for fence installations he never provided.
Phillip R. Sholler Jr., 41, was indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury on the following charges:
Theft from the elderly, third-degree felonies (two counts)
Theft from the elderly, fourth-degree felonies (four counts)
Theft, fourth-degree felonies (two counts)
Theft, fifth-degree felonies (four counts)
Sholler, who did business as Sholler Fence LLC, is accused of stealing about $48,000 from six homeowners between July and December 2017. According to investigators, he took cash or checks from the homeowners but never installed the fencing and never delivered any materials.
The case was investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Unit and the Evendale Police Department. An attorney with the Economic Crimes Unit was appointed by the Hamilton County Prosecutor to handle the case as a special prosecutor.
Consumers who suspect a scam or unfair sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.
Attorney General DeWine Statement on ‘Queen of Hearts’ Games
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement on the issuance of Opinion 2018-012 to Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Michael O’Malley:
“Last month, Prosecutor O’Malley asked my office for a formal advisory opinion regarding ‘Queen of Hearts’ games, such as the one played at Grayton Road Tavern which reportedly resulted in a prize pool of over $5 million. The request asked my office to look at whether the game complied with the law if the game retained a portion of the prize pool from one ‘Queen of Hearts’ board to be paid to the winner of the next board, as was reportedly the case at Grayton Road Tavern.
“Based upon the information provided by the prosecutor, games such as this would not violate the law if the game had a meticulous and defined set of rules, all money collected from participants was distributed to winners by the game’s final round, and the proprietor did not take a cut of the prize pool.
“It is important to note that ‘Queen of Hearts’ games are not regulated by any state office, including the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Local law enforcement has authority to investigate any of these games or claims made by proprietors. Our opinion was based upon current law and the information provided by the prosecutor. I certainly understand concerns about games such as this with large prize pools but without any oversight to protect consumers. In light of the lack of protection for consumers, I would encourage the Ohio General Assembly to review these games.”
CfA Files Ethics Complaints Against Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) Alleging Collusion with the Payday Lending Industry
May 3, 2018
Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), and 13 other members of Congress, violated congressional rules and criminal law by accepting campaign contributions from the payday lending industry shortly before or after taking official actions in support of the industry’s priorities.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “It’s no coincidence that Rep. Stivers fought for the payday lending industry’s priorities while raising money from the industry at the same time. This appears to be a textbook example of pay-to-play behavior.”
CfA’s ethics complaint follows a new report from consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress that details the official actions taken by Rep. Stivers and other members of Congress in very close proximity to receiving tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lending industry executives and industry political action committees (PACs).
Official actions by these 14 members of Congress include supporting legislation that would have impaired the ability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate the payday lending industry; supporting legislation designed to weaken the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Operation Choke Point program, which prevents payday lenders and other unscrupulous companies from gaining access to the banking system; and sending letters to the CFPB and DOJ defending the payday lending industry.
The suspicious timing of these actions, either directly preceding or following campaign contributions from the payday lending industry, suggests these campaign contributions were made in exchange for legislative assistance in apparent violation of federal bribery laws and congressional rules.
In October 2015, CfA filed a similar ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against 11 representatives, including Rep. Stivers, alleging collusion with the payday lending industry.
Stevens continued, “Not only is this behavior potentially illegal, the idea that Rep. Stivers traded official actions for campaign contributions undermines public confidence in the institution as a whole. Congressional ethics officials should immediately investigate whether Rep. Stivers advanced the payday lending industry’s agenda simply to raise money for his campaigns.”
Campaign for Accountability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.
Sen. Sherrod Brown to Big Bank CEOs: Bring Offshored Jobs Back to U.S.
Washington, DC – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) thanked Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for his continued leadership in holding big banks accountable for their anti-worker policies and for spotlighting how these companies continue to offshore American jobs despite their record profits. Yesterday, Senator Brown issued letters to six big bank CEOs criticizing their continued practice of offshoring American call center jobs and demanding they produce plans for how they will reinvest in American workers and bring the offshored jobs back to the U.S.
As a recent report from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Committee for Better Banks detailed, big Wall Street banks have been aggressively offshoring U.S. jobs, especially in the call center and customer service industry, to low-wage countries. For example, the nation’s largest banks cut (at least) 8,000 jobs over the second half of 2017, including many in the call center and customer service industry.
Meanwhile, big banks are among the biggest beneficiaries of the Republicans’ “Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” which not only rewards banks with a massive tax cut, but also provides new incentives for corporations to send even more jobs overseas. As Senator Brown stated yesterday, “Rather than use their massive tax windfalls to invest in American workers, big banks are instead using their tax cuts to line the pockets of top executives and shareholders after shipping U.S. jobs overseas and laying off American workers … American taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for Wall Street banks that fired workers or sent jobs overseas.”
According to Linda Hinton, CWA District 4 vice president, “It’s unacceptable that after shipping tens of thousands of American jobs overseas in recent years, the big Wall Street banks are being rewarded with record profits while being encouraged to ship even more jobs overseas. We thank Senator Brown for sticking up for American workers and call on others to join the push to bring these good jobs back to the United States.”
Troopers seize hash butter, hash oil and marijuana in Preble County
EATON – Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers filed felony drug charges against a Connecticut man after a traffic stop in Preble County. During the traffic stop, troopers seized more than 3 pounds of hash butter, nearly 40 ounces of hash oil and 45 grams of marijuana valued at approximately $102,952.
On April 30, at 6:48 p.m., troopers stopped a 2007 Honda Element with Connecticut registration for a marked lanes violation on Interstate 70 near milepost 10. Criminal indicators were observed and a Patrol drug-sniffing canine alerted to the vehicle. A probable cause search revealed the contraband.
The driver, Nicholas Nowak, 29, of Southington, Conn., was incarcerated in the Preble County Jail and charged with possession of solid and liquid hashish, both second-degree felonies and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony.
If convicted, he could face up to 17 years in prison and up to a $32,500 fine.
Troopers seize $3,700,000 worth of heroin and methamphetamine in Guernsey County
CAMBRIDGE – Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers filed felony drug charges against a North Carolina woman after a traffic stop in Guernsey County. During the traffic stop, troopers seized 110 pounds of heroin and methamphetamine valued at approximately $3,700,000.
On May 9, at 10:30 a.m., troopers stopped a rented 2018 Penske truck with Virginia registration for a following too close violation on Interstate 70 near milepost 173. Criminal indicators were observed and a Patrol drug-sniffing canine alerted to the vehicle. A probable cause search revealed the contraband.
The driver, Ashley N. Tramonte, 27, of Marion, N.C., was incarcerated and charged with possession of a controlled substance and trafficking in drugs, both first-degree felonies.
If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $40,000 fine.