Fundraiser testifies in multi-million dollar fraud case
A fundraiser is testifying that a man who ran a charity suspected to be part of a $100 million fraud limited donations in some states to avoid audits. The defendant at the Cleveland trial identifies himself as Bobby Thompson. Authorities say he is a 67-year-old Harvard-trained attorney and former military intelligence officer named John Donald Cody. He ran a charity called the United States Navy Veterans Association of Tampa, Fla. Telemarketing executive Mark Gelvan of Montville, N.J., testified Wednesday. He says Thompson set state-by-state fundraising limits for the work that Gelvan's firm did for the charity. The aim was to avoid triggering audits. Defense lawyers attacked Gelvan's reliability by challenging the accuracy of fundraising reports to state regulators. Thompson was indicted in 2010 and arrested last year in Portland, Ore.
Firearms destroyed as part of buy-back program
Hundreds of firearms surrendered to Cleveland police during a gun buy-back program won't ever be used again as they have been melted at a steel plant. The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports more than 350 firearms were dumped into a furnace with about 200 tons of molten iron on Wednesday at the ArcelorMittal plant in Cleveland. Cleveland police collected the guns in June in exchange for gift cards and other incentives. The firearmsturned in to police included antique revolvers and sawed-off shotguns. Police chief Michael McGrath says the steel plant has melted more than 8,000 guns in the last seven years.
Steubenville school employee pleads not guilty
An eastern Ohio school employee has pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence and other charges brought by a grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the rape of a 16-year-old girl last year. Steubenville schools technology director William Rhinaman entered the plea during Wednesday's court hearing in Jefferson County. He also asked for a public defender, saying he doesn't know whether he'll be paid while on leave following his arrest this week. The 53-year-old Rhinaman also faces charges of obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury. Prosecutors haven't outlined specific allegations against Rhinaman. He left jail after a judge released him on his own recognizance. A judge convicted two Steubenville high school football players of raping the West Virginia girl after a party last year.
Medina County judge appoints guardian for Amish girl with cancer
A guardian has been appointed for a 10-year-old Amish girl with cancer, whose parents will not be allowed to keep her from chemotherapy. The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Maria Schimer, a Portage County attorney and registered nurse, will be responsible for making decisions for Sarah Hershberger as she battles leukemia. Last week, the 9th District Court of Appeals overturned a decision that said keeping the parents from making decisions for their daughter would be infringing upon their rights as parents. The Hersbergers decided to stop chemotherapy treatment for Sarah over the summer, after the second round began making her ill. They instead wanted to opt for natural medicines, herbs and vitamins.
Cleveland banks to work with victims of government shutdown
The Federal Reserve and other federal regulators are asking banks around the country to work with consumers whose financial situation is being harmed by the federal government shutdown. Not only are furloughed workers not getting paid, but companies that do business with the government are not receiving payments for those services. The Federal Reserve released a statement telling banks that working with customers would be in the "long-term best interest" of everyone involved. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a majority of the large banks in the Cleveland area say they will give breaks to people who aren't getting paid because of what is happening in Washington. Third Federal, Charter One, Fifth Third, Huntington, PNC and Key banks all told the Plain Dealer they would make an effort to work with customers during this time.
Debt collection rules criticized in Ohio
Ohio is coming under fire from the National Consumer Law Center for policies that allow debt-collectors and creditors to push Ohioans into poverty when they default on debt. The Columbus dispatch reports that Ohio's lack of protection for a living wage and other assets from garnishment or seizure earned it a failing grade in several categories of the NCLC's review. The state received two "F" grades for only protecting the federal minimum of 75 percent of wages from garnishments. The state protects less than $450 held in a bank account from seizure. Ohio was given a "D" for its policy that allows vehicles valued at more than $3,450 to be repossessed and hauled away. Ohio does protect $125,000 in home equity after a law change in March. Because of that move, the state received a "B" in the corresponding category. The NCLC wants Ohio and other states to do more to help protect families' ability to meet their basic needs when faced with debt collection.