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Former fugitive headed to trial in $100 million Navy vets scam
Other morning headlines: Cleveland Browns owner to talk about fraud allegations; Northern Ohio police departments receive grants for new officers

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Former fugitive headed to trial in $100 million Navy vets scam
  • Push to revolve Great Lakes cruise industry
  • Speed limit increased on Ohio roadways
  • Cleveland Browns owner to talk about fraud allegations
  • City says algae threat will cost $1 million
  • Gas prices once again below national average
  • Cuyahoga County employees can utilize remote medical screening
  • Cleveland Hopkins begins Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit
  • Northern Ohio police departments receive grants for new officers
  • Ohio State Police Department receives armored military vehicle
  • Former fugitive headed to trial
    A one-time fugitive is headed to trial in Cleveland on charges of masterminding a $100 million multi-state fraud on the guise of helping Navy veterans. The defendant going on trial Monday calls himself Bobby Thompson. But authorities identified him as Harvard-trained lawyer and former military intelligence officer John Donald Cody. He was arrested last year in Portland, Oregon, after two years on the run. He's charged with defrauding people who donated to the United States Navy Veterans Association based in Tampa, Florida. The alleged fraud spanned 41 states, including up to $2 million in Ohio. Authorities say little, if any, of the money collected by the charity was used to benefit veterans.

    Push to revolve Great Lakes cruise industry
    An Ohio port on Lake Erie reportedly has balked at joining an effort to revive the cruise industry on the Great Lakes. The Toledo Blade reports that little, if any, of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's nearly $300,000 marketing budget is dedicated to courting cruise ships. According to the newspaper, the authority rejected invitations to rejoin the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, a Kingston, Ont.-based group that markets member communities for $3,700 to $7,000 in annual fees. Port agency board president Paul Toth said he didn't believe it was getting enough out of its membership. He said the port authority dropped out of the coalition shortly before the financial crisis of 2008, when it faced a tighter budget.

    Speed limit increased on Ohio roadways
    The speed limit has increased on parts of U.S. and state routes throughout Ohio over the weekend. The changes took effect Sunday on more than 600 miles of road in the state's second round of speed-limit increases this year. The speed limits increase to 70 miles per hour on rural freeways, 60 miles per hour on rural divided highways and 65 miles per houron rural expressways that don't have traffic control signals. A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation says drivers should respect the current speed limits until new signs are posted. The department says the changes require 1,100 new or replacement highway signs, which are expected to be installed by Friday. Three months ago, Ohio raised the speed limit to 70 miles per hour on some rural interstate highways.

    Cleveland Browns owner to talk about fraud allegations
    The owner of the Cleveland Browns is expected to talk today, about allegations of fraud against the chain of truck stops he owns.  According to Fox 8, Jimmy Haslam will speak to reporters about the federal investigation into his Pilot Flying J Truck Stops. The company is accused of not giving trucking companies millions of dollars in fuel rebates that they were entitled to. The FBI raided the company’s Tennessee headquarters in April. So far, some lower-level employees have pleaded guilty in the case and Pilot Flying J has offered a settlement to hundreds of trucking companies. That settlement amounts to what they’re owed plus six-percent interest. Nearly two dozen trucking companies have filed lawsuits against Pilot. Haslam is not expected to answer questions Monday, but is expected to speak about a “significant update” in the case. Haslam has maintained that he knew nothing about the alleged rebate scheme. 

    City says algae threat will cost $1 million
    An Ohio city that relies on Lake Erie for drinking water says an algae threat will cost $1 million in added expenses. The additional expense was outlined by Toledo officials before the city council, which expects to vote on it in the coming week. The Toledo Blade says Mayor Mike Bell's administration told the city council the extra money is needed to keep tap water safe. Specialists fear algae-related toxins may linger in the water, possibly for weeks after the algae fades from sight, usually by mid-October. Western Lake Erie is the Great Lakes region's most susceptible basin, because it is the warmest and shallowest.

    Gas prices once again below national average
    Gas prices in Ohio are trending downward as summer gives way to fall weather. The average in Ohio is $3.33 for a gallon of regular gas in Monday's survey from auto club AAA and its partners. That's 15 cents cheaper than last Monday and down 41 cents from a year ago.  
    Gas prices tend to decline soon after Labor Day, but last year they didn't start going down until mid-October. Experts attribute the price drop this fall to a variety of factors. Those include relatively problem-free refinery operations and increased supply while demand decreases with the close of the summer driving season.

    Cuyahoga County employees can utilize remote medical screening
    Cuyahoga County employees can now consult a doctor face-to-face on medical concerns without having to take off work. The county says its employees can step into a high-tech kiosk manned remotely by a doctor via computer screen. The HealthSpot Station in the Cuyahoga County Justice Center began operating last week. The kiosk has a chair, a desktop with a touch screen and a video screen that allows patients to talk to a doctor miles away. The doctor will help patients use the built-in stethoscope and other medical tools among other things.

    Cleveland Hopkins begins Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit
    Visitors flying to Cleveland will be reminded right away that it's the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport has mounted a five-month exhibit of the rock music industry photographs taken during the 40-year career of Janet Macoska. Her works have been displayed at the rock hall and are a permanent fixture at the National Portrait Gallery in London and at Hard Rock Cafe restaurants and casinos around the world. The airport exhibit will be on display in the public art gallery at the entrance to Concourse A until February 28.

    Northern Ohio police departments receive grants for new officers
    Akron, Cleveland and Toledo’s police departments will each receive more than a million dollars to hire 10 new police officers. They are three of nine agencies in Ohio to receive millions of dollars in Justice Department Grants. The grants cover salary and benefits for the officers for three years. Other agencies that will benefit are Canton’s police department… with more than $850,000 to hire seven officers. A half-million dollars goes to the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority for four new officers. And Warren and Austintown will each get two new officers with a quarter million dollars in grant money.

    Ohio State Police Department receives armored military vehicle
    Ohio State University’s police department has a new vehicle that is attracting a lot of attention. The Columbus Dispatch report it’s a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. It was free through a federal surplus program. The university police department told the Dispatch it will not be armed, and can be used to safely transport officers and civilians during crises like a campus shooting, block restricted areas and clear fallen trees. Some students and residents have raised concerns about the department having an armored military vehicle in its fleet. The ACLU says it believes militarization of police agencies is putting citizens’ rights at risk and increases the chance of violence between citizens and police.
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