Friday, November 05, 1999


5/3 bank held up by man with gun

        An armed man robbed a Fifth Third bank on Montgomery Road in Pleasant Ridge at about 2 p.m. Thursday.

        Police said the robber showed an employee a note and a gun before fleeing on foot with the money, said Fifth Third spokeswoman Stacie Yee. She said it is the bank's policy not to disclose how much money was taken.

        No shots were fired, and no customers or employees were injured. It was unclear how many people were inside the bank during the robbery, but Ms. Yee said the robbery was caught on a surveillance video and Cincinnati police are investigating.

        The robber is described as a 5-feet-6 black man with a husky build. He was wearing a black hat and tan jacket.

Sweep finds drugs in public housing
        A drug sweep by Cincinnati police Wednesday in two public housing complexes resulted in three felony and 20 misdemeanor arrests, and 12 warrants being served.

        A total of 162.64 grams (about 51/2 ounces) of marijuana, 0.98 gram of crack and about $2,000 were recovered during the sweeps at Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) properties in English Woods and Millvale.

Grant will build field for neighborhood
        Children in the North and South Fairmount neighborhoods will have a new football field courtesy of a $70,000 grant announced Thursday by President Clinton, National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC).

        The announcement was made in Newark, N.J., at the kickoff of the president's “Emerging Markets” tour, which also will include stops in Illinois, Connecticut and Arkansas.

        The South Fairmount Community Council has started its five-year plan for extensive improvements in North Fairmount's St. Clair Heights Park, including a regulation-size football field, a jogging track, security lighting, and an enlarged parking lot.

        The grant is part of the NFL Community Football Fields Program, a partnership of the NFL Charities and LISC, the nation's largest community development support organization.

        North Fairmount Community Center was one of 18 groups to receive a grant this year through the $1.5 million program. The grant will be officially presented today at the park in a ceremony that will include Cincinnati Bengals President Mike Brown.

11 more ticketed under wide-vehicle ban
        Cincinnati police wrote another 11 tickets Thursday for violations of the wide-vehicle ban on Fort Washington Way. That makes 104 tickets issued since Oct. 24.

        Vehicles on the downtown riverfront expressway, still under construction, must be less than 7 feet wide through August 2000. That's when a $280 million renovation to make the highway safer is scheduled to be completed. Now, drivers are sharing four lanes of the eventual eight-lane highway.

Authorities update rape-evidence kit
        A kit designed to more efficiently collect evidence in rape cases was unveiled Thursday by the Ohio Attorney General's office.

        The state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) worked with the Ohio Department of Health over the past year to revise the kit for the first time in eight years.

        Some of the changes include: collection of blood samples through finger sticks rather than tubes, labels on all kit materials and more swabs to collect body fluid.

        “We needed the kits to keep up with the changing (DNA) technology,” said Stephanie Beougher, spokeswoman for the attorney general. “The kits will help maximize the evidence used against perpetrators.”

        Attorney general's office authorities also hope the kit will replace nearly a dozen kinds being used by hospitals. The uniform use of the kit will allow the BCI to receive consistent and comprehensive evidence from each person.

        The kit is being produced by the Ohio Industries for the Handicapped.

Priest who tried suicide will help run a church
        WARREN, Ohio — A Roman Catholic priest who stabbed himself 88 times in a suicide attempt and then falsely blamed it on two black men to cover it up will return to the pulpit.

        The Rev. Thomas Spisak, 56, will help run St. Mary's Catholic Church by the end of the week, said the Rev. Bernard Schmalzreid, the parish's current pastor.

        “He's doing pretty good. He sounds good and he looks good,” the Rev. Mr. Schmalzreid said.

        The Rev. Mr. Spisak, a former assistant at St. Mary's in the 1980s, admitted stabbing and poisoning himself in June 1998 and falsely telling police that two black men attacked him in the church's rectory. He later apologized to the black community.

        He attempted suicide because he was depressed about heart surgery, said Bishop Thomas Tobin of Youngstown.

Store owner can have confiscation hearing
        An Ohio man who said he didn't know about gambling at his grocery and video store can have a hearing to challenge the government's plan to confiscate the property, an appeals court in Cincinnati ruled Thursday.

        Bart Journey said he knew nothing about a sports bookmaking operation run in the back of Bridwell's Grocery and Video store in the Ohio River community of Friendship, near Portsmouth.

        The FBI sought to seize the property, worth $150,000.

        U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith ruled in 1998 that the government could seize the property.

        In Thursday's ruling, three judges of the 6th U.S. District Court of Appeals said the lower court should first hear Mr. Journey's claim.

Sag in ceiling called cause of mine cave-in
        CLARINGTON, Ohio — An undetected sag in a coal mine's ceiling led to a cave-in Sept. 24 that killed two miners and injured two others 700 feet underground, investigators said.

        It is not unusual for ceilings to sag slightly, but it was enough for a portion to rest on a drainage pipe, said Jerry Stewart, manager of the state inspection team.

        Workers closing the mine were removing the pipeline, causing a 35-by-24-foot section of ceiling to fall, investigators determined in a report completed Oct. 28 and released Wednesday.

Foul play discounted in crash in ravine
        LITHOPLIS, Ohio — Foul play is not suspected in the death of a Columbus woman found in a car that crashed into a ravine and was hidden for three days, the State Highway Patrol said Thursday.

        Tamara Lascola, 30, was found Wednesday after a school bus driver saw the car on its top. Ms. Lascola, a mother of three, had been missing since early Sunday when she left a Halloween party.

        A highway patrol investigation is expected to take a few days, said Trooper David Katafias of the patrol's Lancaster post.

        The car was in a ravine several hundred yards from the road, shielded by brush and trees. Visibility increased with winds Tuesday that blew away some leaves.

        Lithopolis is 15 miles southeast of Columbus.


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