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Staff & Wire Reports



FILE - In this June 25, 2015, file photo, Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah speaks at a news conference in New York. The radio host is asking a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that a neo-Nazi website operator falsely accused him of terrorism. Attorneys for Obeidallah said in a court filing Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, that they are seeking $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin and his company. Anglin hasn't formally responded to the suit.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

FILE - In this June 25, 2015, file photo, Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah speaks at a news conference in New York. The radio host is asking a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that a neo-Nazi website operator falsely accused him of terrorism. Attorneys for Obeidallah said in a court filing Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, that they are seeking $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin and his company. Anglin hasn't formally responded to the suit. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)


Radio host seeks over $1M for case against neo-Nazi website

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

Associated Press

Monday, February 25

A Muslim-American radio host is asking a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that a neo-Nazi website operator falsely accused him of terrorism.

Attorneys for SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah said in a court filing Friday that they are seeking $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin and his company.

Anglin hasn’t formally responded to the suit. Obeidallah’s lawyers are trying to secure a default judgment against Anglin and his company, Moonbase Holdings LLC.

Obeidallah’s lawsuit says Anglin falsely labeled him as the “mastermind” behind a deadly bombing at a concert in England. Obeidallah said Anglin libeled him, invaded his privacy and intentionally inflicted “emotional distress.”

Obeidallah, a comedian and Daily Beast columnist, said he received death threats after Anglin published an article about him in June 2017. The site embedded fabricated messages in the post to make them seem like they had been sent from Obeidallah’s Twitter account, tricking readers into believing he took responsibility for the May 2017 terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, his lawsuit alleges.

“The emotional harm and anguish that I suffered as a result of the (article) was especially damaging because it undermined the dedication that I have shown to improving the image of Muslims and Arab-Americans in American culture,” Obeidallah said in court filing Friday.

Fearing for his safety, Obeidallah said he changed his habits.

“I became concerned when walking around in public, and found myself having suspicious and nervous thoughts when passing strangers,” he said. “Instead of interacting normally, I wondered if other people might be looking at me and thinking of me as a terrorist.”

An earlier court filing by Obeidallah’s attorneys said Anglin’s father, Greg, testified that he helped his son collect and deposit between $100,000 and $150,000 in readers’ mailed donations over a five-year period. Obeidallah’s lawyers subsequently asked for the court’s authorization to subpoena financial records from three banks that Greg Anglin used to funnel donated money to his son.

Friday’s court filing says one of Anglin’s bank accounts received more than $198,000 in donations between February 2016 and October 2018. Obeidallah’s lawyers cited an estimate that Anglin has received more than $378,000 in bitcoin. He also used a crowdfunding website to raise more than $152,000 in donations to help pay for his legal expenses.

Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. The site includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”

Obeidallah is represented by attorneys from Muslim Advocates, a national legal and educational organization. They argued Anglin’s “refusal to participate in this proceeding, while mocking its existence, justifies an award of significant punitive damages.”

Obeidallah’s case is one of three federal lawsuits filed against Anglin by targets of his racist and anti-Semitic trolling campaigns. Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh sued Anglin in April 2017, saying anonymous internet trolls bombarded her family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information. Another lawsuit said Anglin directed his site’s readers to cyberbully a black college student, Taylor Dumpson, after she became the first black woman to serve as American University’s student government president.

Marc Randazza, an attorney defending Anglin against Gersh’s lawsuit, said in an email Monday that he hasn’t been retained to represent Anglin in Obeidallah’s case and isn’t following it.

Man who made hoax call in deadly swatting seeks 20 year term

By ROXANA HEGEMAN

Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A California man has asked for 20 years in prison as his punishment for making a hoax call that led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man following a dispute between two online gamers over $1.50 bet in a Call of Duty WWII video game.

Tyler R. Barriss, 26, faces sentencing Friday in federal court in Wichita for making the false report resulting in a death. His attorney argued in a sentencing memorandum that Barriss never intended for anyone to get hurt and his conduct was an outgrowth of the culture within the gaming community.

As part of the plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Barriss pleaded guilty in November to a total of 51 federal charges that included some initially filed in California and the District of Columbia related to other fake calls and threats. He seeks the shortest term allowed in that plea deal which calls for 20 to 25 years in federal prison.

Defense attorney Rich Federico portrayed his client as sincerely remorseful for calling Wichita police from Los Angeles on Dec. 28, 2017, to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita address. A police officer responding to the call fatally shot Andrew Finch, 28, after he opened the door. Finch, who was not playing video games, lived at the gamer’s old address.

In a letter to the Finch family, Barriss wrote that he thinks every day about how his actions led to his death. He asked for forgiveness and expressed his “hope that my sentence may in some way help you feel better that justice is done,” according to the filing.

Swatting is a form of retaliation sometimes used by gamers, who call police and make a false report to send first responders to an online opponent’s address.

Barriss’ defense attorney argued that the notoriety of being a known swatter within the gaming community “became an intoxicant” to him and incrementally desensitized him to real world consequences. As a young man, he spent almost all of his time indoors playing video games. His only family was his grandmother. He was homeschooled until he quit school altogether. Barriss has never had a job. At the time of his arrest he was living in a homeless shelter in Los Angeles.

“With no guidance, no structure, school, or employment, Mr. Barriss had video games,” Federico wrote. “The game Halo became his salve to social acceptance in a virtual world.”

It is unclear what will become of separate Kansas charges. Barriss is scheduled for a March 4 trial in Sedgwick County District Court on state charges of involuntary manslaughter , giving a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer.

Also charged as co-conspirators in the federal case in Kansas in connection to the deadly swatting call are online gamers Casey Viner, 18, of North College Hill, Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 20, of Wichita. They have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts. Their trial is scheduled for March 19 in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

WPD Seeks Information on Gary “Michael” or “Mike” Hill

For immediate release: February 27, 2019

(Westerville, Ohio) – The Westerville Division of Police (WPD), in cooperation with the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, is seeking information on Gary Michael Hill of Plain City, Ohio in an ongoing sexual abuse case involving at least five minors. Hill is most commonly known as “Michael” or “Mike.”

Investigators are releasing this information because they believe there may be more victims in Central Ohio.

A Delaware County Grand Jury returned a 14-count indictment against Hill in January 2018 that alleges a series of criminal acts from June 1, 2001 through December 30, 2017.

“There are five juvenile females we know of who are included in the current indictment,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. “Since the alleged sexual abuse spans 17 years, there is a possibility there are more victims out there.”

Hill is charged with four counts of rape (first-degree felonies, each carrying a sexually violent predator specification); kidnapping (first-degree felony); gross sexual imposition (fourth-degree felonies); menacing by stalking (fourth-degree felony); and public indecency (first-degree misdemeanor).

Hill was released from Delaware County Jail on a $300,000 bond. Some of his alleged sex crimes occurred in Delaware County, but others included in the indictment are listed as occurring in Franklin and Fairfield Counties.

“The victims that we are aware of were all known to Hill, but there is a possibility there could be more victims in the Central Ohio area,” said O’Brien.

Anyone with information about Gary “Michael” or “Mike” Hill is asked to call the WPD Tipline at (614) 901-6866 or email tipline@westerville.org.

Activists making plans to counter Klan group’s rally

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Civil rights activists are making plans to counter a May 25 rally in Ohio by a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group.

Montgomery County issued a permit to the Madison, Indiana-based Honorable Sacred Knights. County Administrator Michael Colbert says the county is legally obligated to provide access where individuals can exercise their freedom of speech and right to assemble. He says authorities will work to ensure public safety.

The Rev. Chad White says a coalition plans town hall meetings and to peacefully protest the “hate group” rally planned in downtown Dayton.

A Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman says the Honorable Sacred Knights apparently has about a dozen active members. The (Louisville) Courier Journal reported last summer that protesters far outnumbered them at a picnic.

Messages were left Tuesday for the Indiana-based group.

Court hears grisly details after guilty plea in 4 slayings

IRONTON, Ohio (AP) — The way the killer told it, the young boy was the second of the four relatives slain. The boy’s mother was already dead, and he was asking too many questions, so the guy sent the kid to a bedroom with the false promise of finding a video game system there, then shot him.

His body, hidden under clothing next to a dresser, wouldn’t be found until the next day, after his mother and her mother and stepfather were found dead and a missing-child alert was issued.

The gruesome details are being recounted for a three-judge panel as they consider whether the confessed attacker, Arron Lawson, should be sentenced to prison or death for the October 2017 slayings at a home near Ironton, in southern Ohio’s Lawrence County.

Lawson, 24, pleaded guilty last week to 13 counts, including aggravated murder.

Prosecutors allege he killed the boy’s mother — Lawson’s cousin — and other members of her family after she broke off an affair with Lawson. A then-2-year-old child at the home was spared.

Lawson also was accused of stabbing and wounding his cousin’s husband when the man arrived at the home after the others were killed. He resorted to using a pocketknife because he was out of ammunition, The Ironton Tribune reported.

Prosecutors argue Lawson’s actions were planned and intentional: He’d previously wedged a book into a window at the home so he could slip back in and hide until after the boy left for school. He later called the school pretending to be the boy’s father to make sure he would go home after class, not go to see his grandparents. Lawson also packed a backpack of supplies, including a ski mask, toilet paper and a flashlight, but he left it behind when he fled after the stabbing.

He surrendered after a two-day manhunt and gave a recorded confession that was played in court.

Defense attorney Kirk McVay argued the detailed confession reflected Lawson’s remorse, The Herald-Dispatch in nearby Huntington, West Virginia, reported.

In defending him, McVay also said Lawson was raised in a poor family in which he was bullied.

McVay further contends Lawson’s parents abused and neglected him, The Daily Independent of Ashland, Kentucky, reported.

Dem lawmakers mount opposition to GOP’s latest extreme abortion ban

Bill contains few exceptions for rape, incest and health of the mother

COLUMBUS— House Democratic lawmakers today (Feb. 26) voiced opposition to House Bill (HB) 68, a Republican bill that would prohibit abortion as early as six-weeks into a pregnancy, long before most women know they are pregnant. The bill contains no exceptions for rape and incest and limited exceptions for the life and health of the mother.

“Legislating in a vacuum often leads to unintended consequences, especially when it comes to public health,” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights). “Research shows a relationship between pregnancy and increased risk of suicide and homicide by an intimate partner—that’s why pushing health restrictions that fail to address these concerns is so dangerous. It’s unfortunate my colleagues on the other side of the aisle aren’t willing to look at these issues.”

House Democrats proposed a bipartisan working group tasked with studying the interplay of health challenges, including mental and reproductive health, and creating policy recommendations based on those findings. However, GOP lawmakers rejected that proposal.

“It is impossible for anyone, much less politicians, to predict what complications may occur during a pregnancy. That is why it is so important that every Ohioan has access to the care they need when they need it,” said Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin). “This extreme bill will have a profound impact on medical training and physicians’ ability to care for people in Ohio. Simply put, doctors will not want to practice where they risk going to jail for trying to save the life of a patient. All Ohioans will suffer as doctors leave the state.”

HB 68 would enact the most stringent healthcare restrictions in the country. Federal courts struck down similar restrictions in Arkansas, North Dakota and Iowa. Defending the law in court would cost Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars, according to recent reports.

UAW sues General Motors to stop plant closings in 3 states

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The United Auto Workers has sued General Motors from closing three plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, claiming the union’s current contract forbids the company from idling them, according to the suit filed Tuesday.

GM announced plans in November to end production at U.S. plants in Lordstown, Ohio; White Marsh, Maryland; Warren, Michigan; and Hamtramck, Michigan. GM announced this week that production at the Hamtramck plant, which borders Detroit, would continue until January, after the UAW contract expires. The plant was not included in the lawsuit.

The UAW’s lawsuit includes a September 2015 letter from GM Vice President Catherine Clegg that says her correspondence “confirms” the company won’t close, idle, sell off or consolidate plants during the union contract, which expires in September.

GM said in a statement Tuesday that the company’s announcement last year about the closings doesn’t violate the UAW contract.

“We continue to work with the UAW on solutions to our business challenges,” the statement said.

Workers at Lordstown and the other plants are hoping the union will be able to negotiate to keep their factories open after the contract talks formally open this summer. Lordstown, which is expected to be idled in early June, has drawn support from President Donald Trump, who has campaigned on saving industrial jobs in Ohio, a key state in his 2020 re-election bid.

Lordstown has around 1,400 hourly workers who help assemble the Cruze subcompact sedan. The Maryland plant manufactures electric motors and drive trains and employs 250 workers. The Warren plant has 265 workers who make transmissions.

Increase in Ohio opioid mortality rate

New research published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found the mortality rate in Ohio from synthetic opioids had an annual percent increase of 121.1 percent from 1999 to 2016.

JAMA’s new data shows OH’s mortality rate from synthetic opioids like fentanyl was 21.1 per 100,000 in 2016. The overall opioid overdose death rate in OH in 2016 was 32.9 per 100,000, making synthetic opioids the main driver of the current epidemic.

Meanwhile, the number of prescription opioids has decreased by 22 percent nationally in the past five years. Despite this progress from physicians in prescribing habits, overdose deaths from synthetic opioids is continuing to climb as barriers to addiction treatment remain.

I-670 Between I-71 and I-270 (East Side)

TUESDAY, FEB. 26 – FRIDAY, MARCH 1

Interstate 270

9 AM: I-270 north will be reduced to four lanes between I-670 and Easton Way for storm sewer installation

3 PM: All lanes open

7 PM: I-270 south will be reduced to four lanes between Easton Way and I-670 for guardrail installation

5 AM: All lanes open

US Route 62

9 AM: US 62 west will be reduced to one lane between Stygler Rd. and I-270

3 PM: All lanes open

All work is weather dependent; it may be postponed or cancelled without prior notice.

OHIO DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES NEW WESTERN LAKE ERIE BASIN ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2019) – Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Dorothy Pelanda announced new assistance programs for producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299.

Signed in 2018, Ohio Senate Bill 299 provided $23.5 million for soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) located in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) for nutrient management programs. ODA has already distributed $3.5 million to 24 SWCDs in Northwest Ohio.

“Water quality is a top priority of our administration,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Roughly three million Ohioans rely on Lake Erie for their drinking water. These programs are a good step toward promoting better water quality, and more will come.”

At the 2019 Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Meeting this morning, Director Pelanda announced plans for the remaining $20 million, to be spread across three new assistance programs:

The Ohio Working Lands Program will encourage producers to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible crop land. The program will promote the conversion, establishment and maintenance of forage/hay land on certain cropland acres. Also, there will be a new incentive payment to encourage producers to re-enroll acreage through the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. This will help reach the 67,000 acre goal and increase conservation efforts.

The Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Program will be a partnership with the Ohio Agribusiness Association, in which producers are reimbursed for soil testing and nutrient management plans. This would help to ensure the 4R principles are put into place.

The Cost Share and Equipment Buy Down Program will provide producers with funds to purchase technological improvements to agricultural land, equipment and structures to reduce nutrient loss.

“This $20 million suite of practices will go a long way toward our clean water initiatives and helping us set the tone for water quality efforts statewide,” said Director Pelanda. “Our agency looks forward to working with producers to implement meaningful programs that make progress toward our common goals of soil and water conservation.”

“Ohio’s farmers are committed to doing their part to keep nutrients on our fields and out of our water and these programs will help us do that,” said Kris Swartz, Past President of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Northwest Ohio farmer. “I’m confident interest for these programs will be strong and I know our soil and water districts are ready to put them into practice.”

“Our members understand how important our role is helping farmers practice proper nutrient stewardship and the 4R’s,” said Chris Henney, President and CEO of the Ohio Agribusiness Association. “We’re excited to be part of these programs and stand ready to help Northwest Ohio farmers.”

Producers located in the Western Lake Erie Basin are encouraged to contact their local soil and water conservation district office to learn more and sign up for these new programs.

‘BECOMING A PHILOSOPHER’

Ohio Wesleyan Emeritus Professor Publishes Retrospective

DELAWARE, Ohio–Bernard Murchland, Ph.D., a retired philosophy professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, is the author of a new book titled “Becoming a Philosopher: Selected Reviews and Essays 1960-2015.”

In introducing the book, Murchland recounts how he came to study philosophy, why he enjoyed teaching it, and why it is important for students to study it.

“I was a student at the University of Montreal in the 1950s, which was the heyday of the existentialist movement,” Murchland recounts. “As a francophone university, Montreal had a direct pipeline to Europe and especially to France. Many of the big names in existentialism came to speak, and I met some of them.

“They were larger-than-life figures,” he continues. “They had fought in the Resistance against the Nazis, held prestigious degrees, and were public intellectuals in full-founding journals, editing newspapers, forming political groups, teaching in universities, serving in government, and writing prizewinning books. They inspired many young people to study philosophy.”As Murchland progressed in his studies, he saw important links to the American pragmatists and beyond them to the mainstream of the liberal arts tradition going back to the Greeks.

When he began his teaching career, he discovered that his students also were interested in existentialism. It spoke to their youthful idealism and engaged them in the self-forming values of freedom and responsibility, faith and commitment, and creativity and the meaning of life.

“Many of them experienced for the first time in their education a sense of dramatic self­ development,” Murchland says. “Becoming Philosopher” is divided into three parts –writings with themes of education, with themes of social and political philosophy, and with themes of existentialism –each reflecting Murchland’s interests as a philosophy professor. Copies will be available soon in the OWU Campus Store, located in the lower level of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center. Murchland was a professor in OWU’s Department of Philosophy from 1967 to 2004. In 1996, he earned the university’s Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award, which is bestowed annually to recognize outstanding teachers. In supporting his nomination, one student shared: “Let him help you dig around in yourself. This is the most thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating course I have had at OWU. The pinnacle of my four years.”

In addition to “Becoming a Philosopher,” Murchland has published more than 100a rticles and reviews, and he has translated, edited, or authored nearly two dozen books. Murchland earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Moncton, a bachelor’s of religious studies from the University of Montreal, a master’s degree from the University of Ottawa, and a doctorate from the State University of New York.

Learn more about studying philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan at www.owu.edu/philosophy.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more atwww.owu.edu.

FILE – In this June 25, 2015, file photo, Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah speaks at a news conference in New York. The radio host is asking a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that a neo-Nazi website operator falsely accused him of terrorism. Attorneys for Obeidallah said in a court filing Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, that they are seeking $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin and his company. Anglin hasn’t formally responded to the suit. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122404086-da7d266da2384a209f5067c30b7288cc.jpgFILE – In this June 25, 2015, file photo, Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah speaks at a news conference in New York. The radio host is asking a federal court in Ohio to award him more than $1 million in damages for his claims that a neo-Nazi website operator falsely accused him of terrorism. Attorneys for Obeidallah said in a court filing Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, that they are seeking $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin and his company. Anglin hasn’t formally responded to the suit. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Staff & Wire Reports