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VA employee charged in alleged theft that led to medical center outage
Other morning headlines: State says there's a steady flow of health insurance applicants; Cleveland Scene sold to new Cleveland-based media group

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Former VA employee charged in alleged theft that led to medical center outage
  • State says there's a steady flow of health insurance applicants
  • Cleveland Scene sold to new Cleveland-based media group
  • AEP expects rates to drop
  • Former state officials pleads guilty in kickback scheme
  • Akron assistant coach killed in crash
  • Highway patrol out in full force for holidays
  • Former VA employee charged in alleged theft that led to medical center outage
    Federal charges allege a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employee who oversaw scrap removal at the Cleveland VA Medical Center jeopardized a backup generator system and stole and sold material for profit. Okey Wise, of Bath, is charged with theft and depredation of government property and making false statements. He was arrested Friday. Prosecutors say the 64-year-old Wise, who was a supervisor at the VA clinic in Parma,  stole wiring and other materials earlier this year and caused a power failure that blocked access to the hospital's electronic records. He's also accused of lying to investigators.

    State says there's a steady flow of health insurance applicants
    Groups helping to enroll Ohioans in health insurance say they are seeing a steady flow of people who are looking for coverage that takes effect next year under the nation's new health law. Monday had been the last day for residents to enroll for coverage if they want it to begin on Jan. 1. But federal officials effectively extended that deadline through today in case of heavy demand on the government website, Ohio is among the 36 states relying on the federal website. The federal government says as of Nov. 30, nearly 6,000 Ohio residents had successfully picked health insurance plans through the new online marketplace. The head of one consumer advocacy group said Monday that its counselors were booked with appointments to help people find a health plan.

    Cleveland Scene sold to new Cleveland-based media group
    The alternative weekly newspaper, Cleveland Scene has been sold and will now be locally owned by a new media company. Euclid Media Group is buying the paper that was formerly owned by Times-Shamrock Communications of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Euclid Media will be based in Cleveland and led by Chris Keating of Shaker Heights, Michael Wagner of San Antonio, Texas and Andrew Zelman of Cleveland.  The paper has been in existence for more than 40 years. 

    AEP expects rates to drop
    American Electric Power customers can expect to see lower bills in 2015. The power company, that serves Tuscarawas and Stark counties in Northeast Ohio, said in the filing yesterday with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that it expects rates to drop by as much as 9 percent beginning in June of 2015. It figures to a roughly $8/month drop for the average household. 

    Former state officials pleads guilty in kickback scheme
    A former Ohio deputy treasurer has pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in a kickback scheme. Amer Ahmad, who now lives in Chicago, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today. He faces up to 15 years in prison. Attorney and lobbyist Mohammed Noure Alo of Columbus, pleaded guilty in the same scheme last week. Ahmad was an aide to former Democratic Treasurer Kevin Boyce. According to court records, he, Alo and others conspired to use his position to channel state business to a securities broker in return for kickbacks from January 2009 to January 2011. Prosecutors say the money was disguised through a landscaping business. Boyce lost the 2010 election to Republican Josh Mandel and Ahmad went to work as Chicago comptroller. Boyce insists he had no idea what Ahmad was up to.

    Akron assistant coach killed in crash
    Akron says assistant football coach Alan Arrington has been killed in a car accident. He was 44. The school says the accident occurred on Monday in Mississippi. Arrington was born in Oxford, Miss. Arrington, nicknamed Tank, was an assistant head coach on Terry Bowden's staff and also worked with the offensive line. He coached at North Alabama and Mississippi earlier in his career. Bowden calls Arrington "a very good friend and a great person." He says he is heartbroken.

    Highway patrol out in full force for holidays
    The State Highway Patrol is urging Ohioans not to drink and drive during the holidays. The patrol says troopers will be out in full force and on the lookout for drunken drivers during the Christmas holiday and the week leading up to New Year's Day. A year ago, seven people died between Christmas and New Year's Day in crashes related to drunken or drug-impaired driving. Troopers arrested nearly 100 people for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the two-day Christmas period last year.

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