Federal judge re-affirms sentence in Amish hair-cutting case


Source: AP



FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet's latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet's previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren't prejudicial and Mullet wasn't denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet's latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet's previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren't prejudicial and Mullet wasn't denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)


FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet's latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet's previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren't prejudicial and Mullet wasn't denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)


CLEVELAND (AP) — The leader of a breakaway Amish group in Ohio convicted in hair- and beard-cutting attacks has lost an attempt to appeal his sentence in federal court.

An attorney for 72-year-old Samuel Mullet Sr. argues that Mullet’s previous lawyer made mistakes.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster disagreed Wednesday, concluding that those alleged errors weren’t prejudicial and that Mullet wasn’t denied a fair trial.

A message seeking comment on the decision was left Thursday for Mullet’s current lawyer.

Defense attorneys say the 2011 hair- and beard-cutting attacks stemmed from family disputes. Prosecutors say the motive was religious, as hair and beards have spiritual significance in the Amish faith.

Mullet is serving a sentence of about 11 years. Of the 16 Amish community members convicted in the case, only Mullet remains imprisoned.

Scientists Locate Natural “Strongholds” in Ohio that Could Protect Nature in the Face of Climate Change

The Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve, Shawnee State Forest and the Little Miami River / Ft. Ancient State Park Area Found to be Climate-Resilient

The Nature Conservancy

April 22, 2018

A new study by The Nature Conservancy has identified a series of landscapes across Ohio that are predicted to withstand the growing impacts of climate change and help ensure nature’s survival.

As droughts, rising temperatures and other climate impacts threaten to destabilize natural areas across the United States and around the world, scientists believe these resilient landscapes will continue to serve as habitat to a wide variety of plants and animals while also providing drinking water, fertile soil and other important natural services that people rely upon.

“This new science gives us hope that – with a little help – nature and its diversity will survive,” said Bill Stanley, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy Ohio. “If we work to keep these special landscapes strong, for example by managing invasive species, they will continue to thrive even as our climate changes.”

Stanley added: “These strongholds will serve as breeding grounds and seed banks for many plants and animals that otherwise may be unable to find habitat due to climate change. They could also serve as essential sources for water and wood as society deals with the threats of climate change.”

The study, conducted over three years, analyzed 336 million acres of land encompassing all of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, much of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. Parts of two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Manitoba, were also included in the analysis. The Conservancy has already completed its analysis of the Eastern U.S and the Pacific Northwest and has plans to complete a “wall-to-wall” map for the contiguous United States within a few years.

Scientists used computerized geographic information systems to analyze 30-meter-square plots, areas about twice the size of a small city lot, across the entire Midwest region that extends from Lake Erie in the east to tallgrass prairies on the western edge of the nation’s heartland.

“Protecting the most important sites we’ve identified and connecting them together is one of our best strategies for ensuring that we continue to have a rich diversity of life in the region and all the benefits that nature provides to us,” said Kim Hall, a Conservancy climate change ecologist who worked on the study.

Among the most resilient landscapes found in southern Ohio were The Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve, Shawnee State Forest and the Little Miami River / Ft. Ancient State Park area.

“We’ve always known that these were special places,” said Stanley. “Now we know that these lands play a critical role in keeping nature across Ohio and beyond strong and healthy in the face of climate change.”

Other resilient landscapes identified by the study were Great Lakes islands and shoreline, northern forests, karst areas spared by glaciers, prairie and wetland complexes and flat to gently rolling hills with steep bluffs bordering the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois river valleys. Only eight percent of the land in the region is protected, while 60 percent has been converted to farmland or development.

The study also looked at the “permeability” of landscapes – whether roads, dams, development or other fragmenting features have created barriers that prevent plants and animals from moving into new neighborhoods. Together, that collection of diverse environmental settings and ability for local movement define a landscape’s resiliency.

Later this year, the Conservancy will identify important corridors that link these resilient landscapes together. Government agencies and nonprofit groups are expected to use the resulting maps to guide their conservation efforts.

“It’s not enough to have isolated islands of these climate-resilient sites,” said Meredith Cornett, a Conservancy scientist who helped author the study. “We have to ensure that corridors connect them together. To survive the changing climate, some species will be able to relocate within their current environment. Others will need to move great distances to entirely new places. Just as people use roads to move from town to town, we need to make sure species have a way to move from one landscape to another.”

But Cornett added: “Unfortunately, many species won’t be able to relocate as climate change makes their neighborhoods unlivable. So, the ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop climate change impacts from worsening. Until that happens, these resilient landscapes offer a much-needed safe harbor for the survival of many species and natural systems.”

Mark Anderson, a Conservancy scientist who has helped lead the natural strongholds studies, said the study’s findings should be used in combination with more detailed data and field validation. “This analysis doesn’t make decisions, instead, it provides estimates of resilience that should be integrated and interpreted with additional data to inform conservation decisions.”

The study of the Great Lakes and Tallgrass Prairie region in the Midwest was funded primarily through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional funding provided by Nature Conservancy supporters.

For an overview and additional information about the study, including a link to download the study, data and a mapping tool, go to http://maps.tnc.org/resilientland.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 53-0242652) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Lawmakers look to federal authorities for answers on former House speaker’s alleged corruption

Leland, Boggs say the people of Ohio “deserve to know the truth”

MAY 4, 2018

COLUMBUS— Ahead of an anticipated May 16 vote to elect a new speaker of the Ohio House, two lawmakers are seeking answers as to why former Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned abruptly, amid reports of potential corruption. State Reps. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and David Leland (D-Columbus) today asked the special agent in charge of the Cincinnati Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio to provide any or as much information as possible on any current or potential investigation of Rosenberger’s unprecedented resignation.

“How can taxpayers trust their lawmakers to elect a new Speaker when we don’t know how deep this alleged corruption runs through state government,” Leland questioned. “I am sure some want to sweep this under the rug and get back to ‘business as usual,’ but Ohioans deserve answers as soon as possible to avoid any deeper corruption or wrongdoing with their hard earned tax dollars.”

The two Columbus-area lawmakers followed up with federal investigators after asking the Legislative Ethics Commission and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to look at allegations of corruption in the Ohio House reported by Ohio news media.

“In the midst of this chaos and dysfunction at the Statehouse, we need to send a strong message to Ohioans that we work for them – not for ourselves,” said Boggs. “That starts with a full accounting of any wrongdoing or corruption that took place at the expense of taxpayers.”

Ohio lawmaker claims extortion as GOP rival airs racy texts

By JULIE CARR SMYTH

AP Statehouse Correspondent

Thursday, May 3

COLUMBUS (AP) — A Republican woman running against an Ohio lawmaker with whom she exchanged sexual text messages has followed through on her threat to release more texts, even as the legislator pursues an extortion claim against her.

Nurse Jocelyn Smith, of Fairborn, vowed in April to divulge further texts if Republican Rep. Rick Perales, of Beavercreek, didn’t resign. Perales has refused to do so. He filed a criminal complaint against Smith with local authorities on April 3.

Still, Smith continued to release text exchanges headed into Tuesday’s primary that she says she had stored. Perales’ campaign spokesman said the lawmaker cannot authenticate the newly released texts and it is possible they were altered.

The exchanges appear to show Perales discussing sex acts and sexual touching he wants with Smith. The sender identified as Perales indicates in one text that he’s messaging Smith from a Republican caucus meeting; on another occasion, from a formal event.

“It is easy to change a phone number on a cellphone,” said Perales spokesman Daniel Palmer.

Perales has acknowledged exchanging “flirtatious” texts with Smith for about three months in 2015. He has said their exchanges included topless photos of Smith, which she has denied. In the latest texts, the sender identified as Perales appears to be reacting to sexual photos of Smith, which she did not release.

Since making her initial allegations against Perales, Smith has further alleged Perales choked, kissed and fondled her. Perales says the claims are false.

The two first worked together when Smith came to Perales as his constituent with an idea for a license plate to raise money for cancer research. He has said he reported the relationship to then-Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and to his wife during the 2016 election cycle and has no plans to resign.

House spokesman Brad Miller said he could not immediately address whether Perales told Rosenberger in 2016 that the relationship with Smith included texts sent from caucus.

Rosenberger had put his foot down over inappropriate activity by lawmakers on state property in another sexual misconduct scandal, forcing the resignation of Rep. Wes Goodman last year after learning the young lawmaker had engaged in a sex act with a man in his office.

“Obviously, caucus meetings are for members to come together and discuss legislation and priorities of the caucus and not other matters,” Miller said. He noted that, whether or not Rosenberger took action against Perales, “voters are going to have a voice here shortly.”

Palmer said none of Perales’ texts to Smith were sent from caucus.

Perales originally took his extortion claim to the Fairborn Police Department. The Greene County prosecutor has asked the Madison County prosecutor to examine Perales’ claims to avoid a conflict of interest. Perales once served as a Greene County commissioner.

Ohio dairies liquidate, close in response to low milk prices

Source: AP

May 6

CELINA, Ohio (AP) — Worldwide demand and a low number of cows had dairy farmers milking the profits four years ago.

Now, the situation is reversed and low milk prices are forcing dairy farms in northwestern Ohio to either close or liquidate a large portion of their herds.

Six dairies in Mercer County and four in Auglaize County closed or reduced their herds over the past year, according to The Daily Standard.

Data from the state Department of Agriculture showed Mercer has 89 dairies compared to 121 six years ago, and Auglaize has 35 compared to 58. The state saw a drop in 59 licensed dairy farms just over the past five months.

Smaller dairies have to increase their size to remain profitable, and the investment is too much of a risk, said Ohio State University Extension educator Denny Riethman.

Milk prices averaged at $23.26 per 100 pounds in 2014. The average this year is at $14.43, a 38 percent decline.

St. Marys dairy farmer Melvin Fledderjohann, 82, said he plans to stay in the dairy business. He and his son save costs by doing all the work on their 70-cow operation.

“We have a couple of dollars in the bank, so we will wait and see what’s down the road,” he said.

New Breman farmer Lou Brown also has no hired help. He said he plans to wait through the downturn.

“I am an older farmer in my upper 50s and well established versus one who is not and building a barn,” he said. “Some of those are the guys the bank has foreclosed on.”

Agriculture officials still expect more dairies to close in the future.

“There’s just so much excess milk right now,” said Dianne Shoemaker, a dairy production economics specialist. “It looks like that’s going to continue to be the case for a while.”

Information from: The Daily Standard, http://www.dailystandard.com

Former Niles Mayor Sentenced to Ten Years for Public Corruption

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

May 11, 2018

COLUMBUS — Former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante was sentenced to ten years in prison today following a public corruption trial in Trumbull County. The sentence was issued by Visiting Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove, who also ordered more than $51,000 to be paid in restitution to the state and to the City of Niles.

Infante was found guilty on May 7th on the following counts:

  • One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree
  • 13 counts of Tampering with Records, felonies of the third degree
  • One count of Unlawful Interest in a Public Contract, a felony of the fourth degree
  • Two counts of Theft in Office, felonies of the fifth degree
  • Four counts of Operating a Gambling House, misdemeanors of the first degree
  • One count of Falsification, a misdemeanor of the first degree

The case was prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section following an investigation by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Unit. The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and the Youngstown office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation also provided assistance in this case.

“Today’s sentence shows that public officials will be held accountable when they abuse their positions for personal gain,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Public officials like Mr. Infante who use their office for personal gain will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This case is a stern reminder that no one – even an elected official – stands above the law,” Auditor Yost said. “Congratulations to the diligent staff of my office’s Public Integrity Assurance Team, as well as everyone at the state and federal levels who worked tirelessly in their pursuit of justice.”

Ohio Man Convicted of Burning, Stomping Young Child

BRYAN, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today (May 11) that an Ohio man has been convicted on multiple felony charges for abusing and torturing a one-year-old girl in 2017.

Alan Laney

Following a bench trial, Alan K. Laney, 48, of Montpelier, was found guilty of one felony count of felonious assault and seven felony counts of endangering children.

The verdict was handed down this afternoon by Williams County Common Pleas Court Judge John Thomas Stelzer.

The case was investigated by authorities with the Montpelier Police Department and prosecuted by special prosecutors working as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Initiative.

“The helpless victim in this case was only 17 months old when the defendant burned her with a cigarette, stomped and hit her in the face, trampled on her leg, and hit her with a flyswatter,” said Attorney General DeWine. “A child should never be subject to that kind of trauma, and I am dedicated to holding accountable those who harm Ohio’s children.”

Laney will be sentenced on June 6, 2018.

Ohio’s public universities seek to close attainment gap

Forward Ohio campaign highlights higher ed’s role in economy and society

Ohio State News

May 14, 2018

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s 14 public universities, including The Ohio State University, are launching a statewide campaign designed to raise awareness of the value of public higher education and spur efforts to close the state’s increasing higher education attainment gap. To accomplish this goal, the effort, called Forward Ohio, seeks to mobilize public support for enhanced investment in public higher education and ensure that it is a public policy imperative for state government.

Forward Ohio has been created by the Inter-University Council of Ohio, an alliance of Ohio’s 14 public universities. The campaign will run throughout 2018.

“When I ask individuals if they want their own children to attend college, the answer is, overwhelmingly, yes,” said President Michael Drake in a recent column. “The evidence is clear. College graduates are more likely to be employed and more likely to earn more than those without degrees. Studies also indicate that people with college degrees have higher levels of happiness and engagement, better health and longer lives.”

According to the Ohio Department of Higher Education, studies indicate that about 66 percent of jobs in Ohio in 2025 will require postsecondary certificates or above. Currently, just 44 percent of working age Ohioans have these credentials.

Ohio State’s strategic focus on access, affordability and excellence delivers value to the state and to students:

· In January, Drake announced an expansion of the university’s commitment to make college more affordable and accessible for students – the addition of $40 million in need-based aid for the 2018-2019 academic year. That includes $25 million to the President’s Affordability Grant program. Funding for the grants comes from administrative efficiencies.

· In September 2017, the university announced plans to ensure that all in-state students who qualify for Pell Grants – a key federal program for students with financial need – receive an aid package that covers the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees. The new program is in effect for qualifying new, existing and transfer students on the Columbus campus in fall 2018.

Forward Ohio’s Information Portal – www.forwardohio.org – offers more details on the campaign, the importance of closing the attainment gap and the value that public universities provide to the state.

New CWA Digital Ad Buy Thanks Senator Sherrod Brown for Standing Up for Ohio Working Families

Washington, DC – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today (May 15) announced a new digital ad campaign to thank Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for his continued leadership in standing up for working families and good jobs in Ohio. The new CWA campaign will highlight Senator Brown’s ongoing efforts to stop corporations from sending our jobs overseas, including Senator Brown’s support of federal call center legislation. The ads will emphasize to Ohioans:

Senator Brown stands up for working people and good jobs in Ohio. That’s why he fights for legislation like the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act that will help stop corporations from sending our jobs overseas and give you the ability to request to be connected to a call center here in the U.S. Senator Brown knows good jobs mean strong communities and a better future for Ohio.

According to Linda Hinton, CWA District 4 vice president, “Senator Brown is a fighter for working families in Ohio and across America. Senator Brown isn’t just about rhetoric – he actually walks the walk by fighting every day for pro-worker policies that create good jobs here in Ohio and holding accountable those pushing for and profiting from policies that hurt working families and offshore our jobs.”

Earlier this month, for example, 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.

The new CWA digital ad campaign thanking Senator Brown, which will run online and on popular social media platforms, are part of a $50,000 effort that also thanks Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.). The ad campaign continues CWA’s ongoing efforts in Ohio and Pennsylvania to highlight these Senators’ leadership on offshoring and issues important to working families.

Last year, CWA and Good Jobs Nation conducted a two week pick-up tour through the Midwest and Ohio and Pennsylvania to hold President Trump accountable for his failed promises to America’s workers and to draw attention to the continued offshoring of American jobs from the call center industry. In Ohio, stops included Youngstown and Lorain. In the coming months, CWA will be engaged in member mobilization, rallies with call center workers, local canvassing efforts, and will announce new state advertising efforts.

FILE – In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet’s latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet’s previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren’t prejudicial and Mullet wasn’t denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/05/web1_120451075-dc839c1833e34a59af252e77c454e87b.jpgFILE – In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet’s latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet’s previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren’t prejudicial and Mullet wasn’t denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet’s latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet’s previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren’t prejudicial and Mullet wasn’t denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/05/web1_120451075-08f8c492f6bf47c7ab498cbf431739f2.jpgFILE – In this Oct. 10, 2011, file photo, Samuel Mullet Sr. stands in front of his home in Bergholz, Ohio. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster rejected Mullet’s latest appeal Wednesday, May 2, 2018, of a nearly 11-year prison sentence he received as leader of a breakaway group prosecuted for hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in 2011. The judge disagreed with arguments Mullet’s previous lawyer made mistakes, ruling the alleged errors weren’t prejudicial and Mullet wasn’t denied a fair trial. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

Source: AP