A 40 year-old Stow man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to forging the signature of Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.

According to Walsh, James Six applied to a temporary job agency with a letter stating that his identity had been stolen and his criminal record consisted of only misdemeanor convictions. At the end of the letter, he sighed it "Sherri Bevan Walsh, District Attorney".

 

 Courtesy: Summit County Prosecutor's Office

 

 An employee of the agency thought the letter looked suspicious and contacted the Prosecutor's Office. He was told to file a police report. The employee says this is not the first time this has happened.

"My office never sends out letters regarding criminal records having been expunged, says Prosecutor Walsh "Should anyone see a letter like this, allegedly signed by Sherri Bevan Walsh, know that it is fraudulent."

Six is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2nd.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:10

Akron Area Wins Million Dollar Educational Prize

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The Akron area has received a big educational honor.

Akron and Northeast Ohio won the million-dollar award from the Talent Dividend competition. The award was announced Wednesday afternoon in Washington, DC.

The Akron area's winning entry was fueled by a large increase in students earning degrees at five area institutions of higher learning - The University of Akron, Kent State, Hiram College, NEOMED, and Stark State.

The area beat out 56 other cities that were up for the award.

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(University of Akron, press release) Universities in northeast Ohio won a national award today—and a million dollars to put toward programs that boost student success and graduation rates. Across the country, 57 cities competed for the million dollar award from the Kresge and Lumina Foundations and CEOs for Cities. The Akron region won by having the greatest percentage increase in students earning degrees. The University of Akron, Kent State, Hiram College, NEOMED, and Stark State all contributed to the prize-winning increase.

The driving force behind the Talent Dividend competition is the belief that a region's economic success depends on how much of the population has a college degree. According to CEOs for Cities President Lee Fisher, "Each one percentage point increase in degree attainment in Northeast Ohio has a positive $2.8 billion increase in the per capita income for the region. That's the Talent Dividend for Northeast Ohio."

(Kent State University, press release) Kent State University’s efforts to help students succeed and graduate resulted in a big payoff for Northeast Ohio. The university accounted for the largest increase in the number of new graduates among colleges and universities in the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Summit and Portage Counties, Ohio, contributing largely to the region’s win of a $1 million prize from CEOs for Cities’ Talent Dividend Prize national competition. The Northeast Ohio Commission on Higher Education (NOCHE) coordinated the participation of five institutions of higher education that serve Summit and Portage counties.

The Talent Dividend Prize was awarded today to the metropolitan area that exhibited the greatest increase in the number of postsecondary degrees granted per one thousand population over a four-year period. Degrees from the 2009-2010 school year to the 2012-2013 school year were weighted with one point for each associate degree and two points for each bachelor’s or advanced degree. According to CEOs for Cities, the Akron MSA produced 2,139 more postsecondary degrees than four years ago for an astonishing 20 percent increase.

With Kent State’s contributions from its Kent Campus, the Akron MSA beat out 56 other metropolitan areas across the country to claim the top prize. Kent State graduates are responsible for 57.69 percent of the total gain in degrees in the Akron MSA, and using the competition’s point system, Kent State graduates account for 61.53 percent of the percentage point increase in degrees awarded. View supplemental data here.

“At Kent State University, we have a students-first approach,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren, who attended today’s awards announcement in Washington, D.C. “Our focus is on student success, providing all students with the opportunity and support to achieve their dreams and aspirations. I truly appreciate that CEOs for Cities recognizes the great work that our universities and region are doing to help students reach the finish line of graduation.”

Kent State’s faculty, staff and administration have dedicated themselves to improving student success and degree completion. The university has built on that dedication by improving academic advising, expanding support services and co-curricular experiences, and providing students with the Graduation Planning System, or GPS, that helps students track their progress to graduation.

“In addition, we have recently launched our ‘Formula to Finish’ initiative that encourages students to register for and pass at least 15 credit hours per semester,” said Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “By taking and passing at least 15 credit hours per semester, students will be on track to graduate in two years to get their associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s degree. Students who follow the ‘Formula to Finish’ program and graduate in four years versus six can save $36,000.”

The university is setting retention records, which also contribute to student success. This fall, Kent State reported that retention of its Kent Campus freshmen had increased to 81.7 percent, up from last year’s record retention level of 77.6 percent. This represents the percentage of freshmen who continue their studies at the university for their sophomore year.

In addition, the Kent Campus welcomed its highest-achieving freshman class this fall while also setting a new all-time high enrollment record. The academically motivated freshmen have an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.34 and average ACT score of nearly 23; both are records for an incoming class. Unduplicated headcount at the Kent Campus for fall 2014 is 28,457, exceeding last year’s record of 28,019. This marks the eighth consecutive year of enrollment growth on the Kent Campus.

Kent State recognizes the very important role that higher education plays in terms of being an economic driver with a local and regional impact, Warren said.

“We all know that educational access and attainment are linked inextricably to regional prosperity,” Warren said. “And so we must also be vigilant about economic development. The great news is that our region is brimming with leaders in the public and private sectors who are committed to economic development in word and deed.”

A 2010 economic impact study to commemorate the university’s centennial reported that Kent State’s eight-campus system generates $1.96 billion in added income to the Northeast Ohio economy. This includes $1.6 billion attributed to raising the educational attainment and productivity of the workforce; $292 million in added income due to Kent State’s business, employment and research operations; and $64 million generated from Kent State attracting nonlocal students and visitors to the region.

Kent State will receive $143,750 of the $1 million Talent Dividend Prize money. The university intends to invest the dollars in programs geared toward college completion. Other higher education institutions in the Akron MSA that also will receive a portion of the prize money are Hiram College, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Stark State College and the University of Akron.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014 13:58

Cavs Hosting Free Fan Event Before Home Opener

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Those who don't have a ticket for tomorrow's Cavs game as they open their season at home with Akron's own LeBron James will get a chance to experience the hype with a free event before tip-off.

Not only can you watch the game in downtown Cleveland's Gateway District with a free viewing party, but you'll hear from Grammy-winning rock band Imagine Dragons and hip-hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar.

Lamar's latest single "i" is featured in a promotional campaign for Turner Sports highlighting the start of the new NBA season.

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart will be making a guest appearance. The fan fest is free, hosted by Turner Sports and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The event starts at 4 p.m. before the game in the Huron (Stark) Parking Lot (directly across from The Q).

Once the Cavs and Knicks tip-off, the event will turn into a viewing party with the game shown on massive video boards that will be set up in the space.

(Press Release)

WHEN:

Thursday, October 30, 2014
4:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
Free Event Open to the Public
The Huron (Stark) Parking Lot (surface lot directly across from The Q)

WHO:

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Turner Sports will bring a free fan event and viewing party to downtown Cleveland's Gateway District.

WHAT:

The Cleveland Cavaliers will tipoff the most anticipated season in the team's history on Thursday night October 30th when they host the New York Knicks as part of TNT's national broadcast of NBA Opening Week.

To commemorate the evening, Turner Sports and the Cavs will host a free fan event outside Quicken Loans Arena that will feature a musical performance by hip-hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar, as well as appearances by the Cavalier Girls dance team, the Scream Team hip-hop troupe and more. Once the Cavs game begins, the event will serve as a viewing party for fans with the TNT broadcast featured on the massive video boards that will be set up in the space.

The free event will be open to the public beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Huron (Stark) parking lot (directly across the street from The Q). Turner Sports will feature footage from the event and Kendrick Lamar's performance, sponsored by Samsung GALAXY Note 4, within the hour-long TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.com. With a special guest appearance by Kevin Hart and NBA TV's Inside Stuff host Kristen Ledlow, the special will air at 7:00 p.m. ET before TNT's coverage of the Cavaliers vs. Knicks game tips off at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist Kendrick Lamar's latest single "i" is featured in Turner Sports' promotional campaign highlighting the tip off of the 2014-15 NBA regular season, with a 30-second video currently available at NBA.com.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 09:19

Cop-Killer Thompson Remains On Death Row

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Ashford Thompson will not only remain in prison for the murder of Twinsburg police officer Joshua Miktarian in 2008 -- but he'll stay on Death Row with the clock ticking down the seconds on his execution date.
 
The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled that any hint of prosecutorial misconduct in his trial wasn't enough to overturn his conviction for shooting Miktarian to death during a traffic stop because of loud music coming from Thompson's vehicle. Thompson shot Miktarian in the head four times; his license and registration were still in Miktarian's pocket when police arrived minutes after the shooting after dispatchers couldn't raise Miktarian on the radio after he requested backup.
 
Thompson also tried to have the court overturn his death sentence and on that issue the Court split 4-3 with justices French, O'Connor,  O'Donnell and Kennedy voting in the majority. 
 
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(Ohio Supreme Court) The Ohio Supreme Court today ruled in the case of Ashford L. Thompson, who was convicted in 2010 for the murder of Twinsburg police officer Joshua Miktarian during a traffic stop.
 
In an opinion written by Justice Judith L. French, the court unanimously affirmed Thompson’s convictions for the murder and other crimes. However, the court split 4-3 on imposing a sentence of death.
 
In July 2008, Thompson picked up his girlfriend after midnight, and they went to a bar. An hour or two later, Officer Miktarian started following Thompson’s car because of loud music coming from the vehicle. Thompson turned into his driveway, and the officer called dispatch to report that he was making a traffic stop and pulled in behind Thompson. The officer’s police dog was in the cruiser. A few minutes later, Miktarian requested backup. A dispatcher relayed that Thompson had a license to carry a concealed handgun, but Miktarian never responded.
 
Witnesses reported yelling and popping sounds. When additional officers arrived at the scene, Miktarian was found on the ground next to his cruiser, and no other vehicles were in the driveway. Thompson’s driver’s license and insurance card were in Miktarian’s front shirt pocket. Miktarian had been shot four times in the head.
 
Soon after, police went looking for Thompson at a prior address – his sister’s house in Bedford Heights. When an officer stepped into the house, he found Thompson with a pair of handcuffs dangling from one wrist. The handcuffs were later determined to belong to Miktarian. Thompson struggled with the officer but was eventually arrested. A handgun found on the stove was also seized.
 
A jury convicted Thompson of aggravated murder with specifications that carried the death penalty, including purposely killing a police officer. He was also found guilty of escape, resisting arrest, tampering with evidence, and carrying a concealed weapon. The jury recommended a death sentence, and the court agreed.
 
Thompson appealed the conviction and death sentence directly to the Ohio Supreme Court. He presented 18 claims of errors during his trial.
 
One issue raised was a mistake in the trial court’s June 23, 2010, sentencing opinion. The opinion merged two felony escape charges, even though one of the charges had already been dismissed. The opinion then claimed to sentence Thompson on the dismissed escape offense, which carried a longer prison term.
 
However, in the trial court’s journal entry the next day, the court correctly sentenced Thompson on only the single felony escape offense for which he was found guilty. The entry eliminated any reference to the dismissed escape charge and the incorrect prison sentence.
 
Justice French explained that the Supreme Court may consider both the trial court’s sentencing opinion and the subsequent journal entry to determine whether it has jurisdiction to consider Thompson’s appeal. Together, the documents met the necessary requirements for a final appealable order.
 
Thompson also made several claims of prosecutorial misconduct, which he argued deprived him of due process and a fair trial. Justice French concluded that some statements made by the prosecutor were inappropriate. In closing arguments during the trial phase, the prosecutor asked, “How much more do you think the Defense is willing to deceive you to find out—find the defendant not guilty?” Justice French noted that the state may not suggest that the defense’s case was dishonest. The prosecution also improperly suggested that Thompson had pressured his girlfriend to lie in the trial with no evidence to support the claim and that Thompson was “obsessing and controlling,” implying negative conclusions about Thompson’s character, Justice French added.
 
While these comments were not acceptable, none were so substantial that they changed the outcome of Thompson’s trial, Justice French reasoned.
 
The court rejected Thompson’s numerous other charges of misconduct by the prosecution. Thompson’s other arguments – related to the selection and dismissal of some jurors, pretrial publicity concerning Thompson’s original guilty plea that was withdrawn, and comments by a bar patron – also lacked merit, Justice French wrote.
 
The court concluded that the evidence supported the jury’s finding of two aggravating circumstances – that Thompson murdered an on-duty law enforcement officer and that he committed the murder to escape detection for another offense, such as resisting arrest or carrying a concealed weapon.
 
The court reviewed factors that might lessen Thompson’s punishment. Thompson was a licensed practical nurse who assisted patients who lived in difficult neighborhoods. As a result, he obtained a license to carry a concealed weapon to protect himself. He had a stable upbringing and was close to his family. He did not have a significant criminal history, and he expressed remorse for the murder.
 
However, the court found that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors, and the death penalty in this case was proportionate to death sentences imposed in other similar cases.
 
Joining the four-justice majority opinion affirming the death sentence were Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell and Sharon L. Kennedy.
 
Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, in an opinion joined by Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, concurred with the majority in affirming Thompson’s convictions but dissented on the death sentence. He concluded that Thompson’s history, character, and background were sufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances in the case, so he would have sentenced Thompson to life without parole.
 
In a separate opinion, Justice William M. O’Neill also concurred in the convictions but dissented on the death penalty. He took issue with contention that Thompson killed the officer to escape detection or punishment for another offense. While the record showed that Thompson did violate a noise ordinance and resisted arrest, the testimony of Thompson and his girlfriend refuted the theory that Thompson was trying to avoid responsibility, Justice O’Neill wrote.
 
Instead, he added, the evidence indicated that Thompson was confused and frightened and incorrectly thought that Miktarian was going to release his police dog or shoot him. Justice O’Neill concluded that the allegation that Thompson killed the officer to escape detection or punishment was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
 
Justice O’Neill expressed gratitude and sympathy for the officer’s family. However, he reasoned that the only aggravating factor remaining for Thompson – killing a police officer – did not outweigh the mitigating factors in the case to justify imposition of the death penalty.
 
“[T]he evidence in this record establishes that this was a routine traffic stop gone tragically wrong,” he wrote. “This case is not in the same category as the premeditated intentional taking of the life of another.”
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:25

Goodyear Hits Record Q3 Marks

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Goodyear reporting a record for third quarter income with some of the highest profit margins in over a decade. Q3 operating income was up 21% at over $520 million dollars, earnings up 30% and year to date income up 17% to $1.4 billion dollars, even though third quarter sales were down slightly from a year ago.

(Goodyear Tire and Rubber) The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company today reported record segment operating income for the third quarter of 2014.

- Record third quarter segment operating income of $520 million, up 21%
- Record North America third quarter earnings up 30% to $210 million
- Europe, Middle East and Africa third quarter earnings up 57% to $181 million
- Year-to-date segment operating income of $1.4 billion, up 17%
- Company expects 2014 earnings growth near high end of 10% - 15% range
- Company reaffirms 2014-2016 financial targets
- Company plans to acquire up to $150 million of its common stock in fourth quarter

"We delivered outstanding earnings growth in the quarter and achieved a segment operating income margin of more than 11 percent, the highest in more than a decade, despite an increasingly challenged global economy," said Richard J. Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer.

"These results reflect our focus on capturing the value of our branded products in the marketplace and continued progress generating cost savings through our operational excellence activities," he added.

Goodyear's third quarter 2014 sales were $4.7 billion, compared to $5.0 billion a year ago.

Sales were negatively impacted by $137 million in unfavorable foreign currency translation. Tire unit volumes totaled 41.9 million for the third quarter of 2014, down 2 percent year-over-year. Original equipment unit volume was down 3 percent, primarily due to reduced vehicle production in Brazil.

Replacement tire shipments were down 1 percent, due primarily to a decline in North America where markets were disrupted due to significant stockpiling of imported low-end tires in advance of potential tariffs being imposed in 2015.

"In the distorted North American industry environment, we remained committed to our strategy of pursuing profitable volume and we achieved record segment operating income in the quarter," said Kramer.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 16:19

Akron Man Sentenced in May Shooting

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An Akron man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the May death of Devonte Taylor.

Judge Amy Corrigall sentenced 23 year-old Darnell Secession of Toby Terrace to the maximum sentence yesterday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.  In September, Secession pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a first degree felony with a firearm specification.

Secession and Taylor engaged in an argument on May 24, when at some point during the argument, Secession pulled his gun and shot the victim twice. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 16:10

Suspicious Fire Probed After Stark County Explosion

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A suspicious house fire in Plain Township yesterday has sparked an investigation and left the property owner injured.

Deputies were called to a fire located on Diamond Park Avenue, Northeast Monday evening. Witnesses reported hearing a small explosion from the garage of Richard B. Manuel's home.

The Stark County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident, along with the Plain Township Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Manuel was transported to the Akron Children's Burn Unit to be treated for his injuries.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 14:10

Umana Gets 15 To Life For Junius Murder

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15 years to life for the homeless man who murdered a woman, her body found in a shed on East Buchtel Avenue.

Jacob Umana, 37, was arrested for the murder Stephanie Junius, 44, of just before Christmas of last year. Police say neighbors heard screams that night and notified police; death was by stabbing, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner's office.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce gave Umana a 15 years to life prison and tacked on an additional year under Ohio's Repeat Violent Offender Specification. Court records show Umana was a laundry list of prisor convictions including drug abuse, breaking and entering, robbery and grand theft. Croce also ordered Umana spend each December 23rd in solitary confinement on the anniversary of Junius' murder.

Today in Judge Christine Croce's Court...Judge Croce sentenced Jacob Umana to 15 years to life for the charge of Murder. Judge Croce also imposed an additional year in prison for the Repeat Violent Offender Specification.Judge Croce also ordered that Umana spend each December 23rd in solitary confinement.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 13:19

Zips Picked High In MAC Preseason Poll

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Since 2005, the University of Akron men's basketball squad has gone 21 wins or better in each season. That alone is likely worth high marks but for MAC Conference sports beat reporters it isn't always what you did last, but what they think you've got in the tank tomorrow. The Zips are picked to lead the East division but will face a strong overall conference challenge from the Toledo Rockets, picked not only to win the West Division but also to take the conference championship and a berth to March Madness in the process.

Along with Akron's first-pick selection with a majority of votes from the media panel the Ohio Bobcats were picked second for the division, followed by the Kent State Golden Flashes.

- - -

(University of Akron Athletics) The Akron Zips men's basketball team has been tabbed as the favorites in the Mid-American Conference East Division in the 2014-15 MAC Basketball Preseason poll, the league office announced on Tuesday.

The Zips received 17-of-20 first-place votes and 117 points overall from the MAC News Media Panel. Ohio was selected second (two first-place votes, 92 points), followed by Kent State (66 points), Buffalo (58 points), Bowling Green (one first-place vote, 52 points) and Miami (Ohio) (35 points).

Toledo received 18-of-20 first-place votes as the favorite in the MAC West, with the one first-place vote going to Western Michigan and Central Michigan, respectfully. Toledo finished with total points. Defending MAC Champion WMU was predicted to finish second (94 points), followed by Eastern Michigan (68 points), Northern Illinois (63 points), CMU (49 points) and Ball State (28 points).

The Rockets were selected as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament in March, garnering 15 votes, with Akron, BGSU, CMU, Ohio and WMU receiving one vote each.

For a second-straight season, Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell was selected to the MAC East Preseason All-MAC team. The honor is one of many for Treadwell as he has been named preseason All-MAC by Lindy's, Sporting News and the Blue Ribbon Yearbook. Lindy's tabbed him as the potential Player of the Year in the league.

The Zips return three starters and eight letterwinners from last season's squad that posted a 21-13 overall record and a 12-6 mark in MAC play. UA posted 21 or more wins for a ninth-straight season, joining the likes of Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Over the last 10 seasons, the Zips have won 231 games, most by any team in the MAC and tied for 30th among all Division I programs.

Akron made its seventh-straight postseason appearance, playing in the 2014 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The Zips are one of just 25 programs to play in a postseason tournament in each of the last seven seasons.

UA opens its 2014-15 campaign on Monday, Nov. 10, when it plays host to Rochester (Mich.) in its lone exhibition contest. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. ET at James A. Rhodes Arena.

2014-15 MAC East Division Predicted Order of Finish (First-Place Votes)
1. Akron – 117 points (17)
2. Ohio – 92 (2)
3. Kent State – 66
4. Buffalo – 58
5. Bowling Green – 52 (1)
6. Miami – 35

2014-15 MAC West Division Predicted Order of Finish (First-Place Votes)
1. Toledo – 118 points (18)
2. Western Michigan – 94 (1)
3. Eastern Michigan – 68
4. Northern Illinois – 63
5. Central Michigan – 49 (1)
6. Ball State – 28

Tournament Champion: Toledo (15), Akron (1), Bowling Green (1), Central Michigan (1), Ohio (1), Western Michigan (1)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:50

Man Arrested After String of Akron Robberies

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Akron police say they've arrested a 30-year-old Akron man in connection with a string of robberies that happened over the past 48 hours.

Police have charged the man, whose name has not yet been released, with two counts of kidnapping, one count of attempted kidnapping and four counts of aggravated robbery. Detectives followed up on a tip and located the suspect on Johnston Street around 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The most recent robbery was reported Monday night. A woman says the man approached her with a knife in the 300-block of Sherman Street and robbed her. The other three robberies happened Sunday including one incident around 2 a.m. on Cross Street when an 18 year-old woman was approached by a man who told the woman he was in trouble and needed money.

The suspect was holding a knife. The suspect forced the woman into a car and another man drove them to a nearby ATM to get the cash. The suspect dropped the woman off at the intersection of Kipling Street and Bessie Street.

Previous Coverage: 

Three Robberies Reported In Akron

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