Sunday, May 16, 1999

TRISTATE DIGEST


Hamilton man dies after attack outside bar

        HAMILTON — A 55-year-old man died early Saturday after being assaulted outside a Hamilton bar, city police said.

        Earnest Gross, who lived in the 900 block of South Ninth Street in Hamilton, was attacked by several people outside Barney's Bar, at Benninghofen and Fairview avenues, police said.

        Police are still investigating and issued few details about the attack. No arrests had been made as of Saturday afternoon.

        Butler County Coroner Dr. Richard Burkhardt will conduct an autopsy.

        Mr. Gross operated Ernie's Variety Store on Erie Boulevard in Hamilton for the past 10 years, said his wife, Inez. The couple had no children.

        Mrs. Gross said her husband had many friends and had never before been a victim of violence.

Victims identified in Warren Co. crash
        A crash in Warren County killed a Cleveland-area man and seriously injured his cousin Friday night.

        Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers said Meoun Phuong, 20, of Mentor, died after apparently losing control of his car on southbound Interstate 71 near Mason about 8:45 p.m. Friday. A passenger, Pheap Rath, 22, of Danbury, Conn., was in serious condition Saturday night at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. Both were thrown from the car as it veered into the highway median and began flipping, troopers said. Both landed on the highway. They were flown by medical helicopter to the Dayton hospital.

        The vehicle landed in the path of a tractor-trailer and was struck. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

        Mr. Phuong was driving to the Cincinnati area to visit family, police said.

Man's body found along Mason creek
        MASON — Police here are investigating the death of a Mason man whose body was found along a creek Saturday night.

        Two men walking along Little Muddy Creek looking for fishing bait instead found the body of a 27-year-old Mason man about 6:30 p.m. The man apparently had fallen and struck his head on a rock and was found face down in the water, police said.

        His name was being withheld pending notification of his family.

        There were no other wounds other than one to his head where investigators say it struck a rock, police said. The area is in a steep ravine along the creek near Kings Mills Road.

        The man's body was taken to the Montgomery County coroner's office to be examined.

Mishap-prone O'Connor getting a paid driver
        COLUMBUS — Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, who was involved in two minor traffic accidents in three months, is getting a driver.

        Starting May 24, a retired Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper will be paid $35,000 annually to drive Ms. O'Connor, do advance work for her public appearances and help administer a program that provides surplus federal property to local law enforcement, said her chief of staff, Doug Moormann.

        Officials say Ms. O'Connor's driving had no bearing on the decision.

        On Dec. 21, the Ohio State Highway Patrol gave her a warning for speeding. While her car was pulled over, the former Summit County prosecutor said, it accidentally rolled backward, slightly damaging her car but not the trooper's cruiser.

        On March 22, Columbus police ticketed Ms. O'Connor for failing to keep a safe distance. According to the police report, she told officers that she had stopped for a red light but rolled forward, bumping the car in front of her.

County workers accused of food stamp fraud
        CLEVELAND — Two county workers used office computers to make more than $100,000 in false food stamp claims and split them with friends, authorities said.

        Sixteen people were arrested Friday on charges of theft, theft in office and trafficking in food stamps. Investigators with the Cuyahoga County sheriff's office were looking for others.

        “The people of this fraud ring have violated the public trust ... and stolen food from the most needy of this county,” Prosecutor William Mason said.

        Among the arrested were county workers Shereen Robinson, 41, who helps handle public assistance checks; and her former husband, Gary Harrison, 42, who helps provide free food to the needy.

Woman kills herself in cell after DUI charge
        MANSFIELD, Ohio — A woman hanged herself in the city jail hours after being arrested on a drunken driving charge, police said.

        Terrie Mathews, 43, of Mansfield, was found hanging from a telephone cord in the women's cell early Friday, police said. She was pronounced dead at MedCentral/Mansfield Hospital 45 minutes later.

        Ms. Mathews was arrested about 11:45 p.m. Thursday on several traffic charges, including drunken driving, according to Mansfield police.

        A routine jail inspection found nothing wrong at 1:45 a.m. Friday, the police department said in a statement. Ms. Mathews was found with the cord around her neck at 2:18 a.m., police said.

10-year-old found dead in Youngstown area
        McDONALD, Ohio — A 10-year-old girl reported missing 14 hours earlier was found dead Saturday, and the case is being handled as a homicide investigation.

        Police Chief David Leskovac declined to say how Bridget Wetzel of nearby Weathersfield died. Searchers found her bicycle several blocks from her Youngstown-area home and later found her body nearby.

        A family acquaintance who apparently took the girl into a wooded area late Friday to see baby raccoons was questioned by police. No details were released.

        Police said the man talked with investigators voluntarily and was not immediately considered a suspect.

       



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- TRISTATE DIGEST