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Ex data chief of Ohio's largest school district is guilty of a felony
Other noon headlines: Sewer fight; tax scam; death penalty debate; Pilot Flying J

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
The sewer district says the only way it can control flooding is to address stormwater.
Courtesy of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
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In The Region:
  • Northeast Ohio multi-million dollar sewer fight gets its day in court
  • Ex-data chief in Ohio's largest school district is found guilty
  • Georgia woman charged in tax scam that involve hundreds in NE Ohio
  • Should a juror who objects the the death penalty remain on a jury?
  • Haslam's Pilot Flying J case is heading for mediation
  • Northeast Ohio multi-million dollar sewer fight gets its day in court
    The Ohio Supreme Court has set Sept. 9 to hear arguments in a four-year fight over whether the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District can move ahead with a massive storm-water management project.

    Eleven of the 62 communities the district serves in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lake and Lorain counties originally sued to stop the $35-million-a-year project and an appeals court agreed with them. In a 2-1 vote, the judges said the district has the authority to remove sewage from storm water, but doesn’t have control over storm water. The remaining judge and the other communities argue that storm-water and wastewater are intermingled and key to flood control

    Three of the 11 communities have since changed their minds and now support the project, but the others maintain it’s an unvoted tax.

    Ex-data chief in Ohio's largest school district is found guilty
    The man accused of engineering the data tampering scheme in Columbus City Schools has pleaded no contest to – and was found guilty of -- a felony charge today. 

    The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that 66-year-old Stephen Tankovich waived his right to an indictment on a charge of attempted tampering with government records. A no contest plea means he’s not admitting guilt, but not contesting it either.

    Prosecutors say Tankovich created the system in which other school officials manipulated data to change attendance rates and other measures of student achievement. He resigned in early 2013 after more than 40 years with the state’s largest school district. He’s to be sentenced Oct. 16 and faces as much as 18 months in prison – though he’s unlikely to get prison time.

    Georgia woman charged in tax scam that involve hundreds in NE Ohio
    A Georgia woman has been charged with a $4.8 million tax-refund conspiracy involving nearly 1,000 people in Northeast Ohio.

    According to the U.S. Attorneys Office, 35-year-old Zinara Highsmith, is facing charges of conspiracy and wire fraud linked to filing more than 2, 700 false tax returns nationwide. The refunds involving Northeast Ohioans amounted to $1.7 million.

    Highsmith ran a tax-preparation business called WE XL LLC. The U.S. attorney says she got people’s personal ID through ministers, including one in Canton.

    Should a juror who objects the the death penalty remain on a jury?
    A death penalty case in Akron remains on hold after a judge removed herself, and the new judge is trying to decide whether to select a new jury.

    Summit County prosecutors had accused Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands of being prejudiced against the death penalty, in part because she seated a juror who said he is opposed to the death penalty.

    The Beacon Journal is reporting that prosecutors want a new jury seated.

    The case involves Deshanon Haywood, one of two Akron men accused in the killing of four people in a North Akron townhouse in 2013. The new judge, Paul Gallagher, has set a deadline for Tuesday for prosecutors and defense attorneys to present written arguments over the jury makeup. The main defendant, Derrick Brantley, has been sentenced to life in prison.

    Haslam's Pilot Flying J case is heading for mediation
    A federal judge has ordered mediation in a lawsuit targeting the truck-stop chain owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

    The suit claims Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J fraudulently withheld fuel rebates and discounts from customers. Pilot earlier settled similar claims in a class-action lawsuit for $85 million and has agreed to pay a $92 million criminal penalty as well.

    A few companies opted out of the settlement.

    The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that some plaintiffs’ attorneys this week objected to the ordered mediation. They say they need to take discovery first to determine what was stolen from their clients.

    A Pilot attorney disagreed, saying an audit provided by the company gives an “absolutely full picture” of the damages.


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