Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Tristate A.M. Report




City bills Klan $17K for security

        Cincinnati officials say the Ku Klux Klan owes them $17,580.52 for guarding the group's holiday display in Fountain Square last month.

        A bill was sent to the Rev. Jeffery Berry, the Klan's National Imperial Wizard, who applied for a permit to erect a cross in the square.

        Although the Rev. Mr. Berry did not request it, the city provided 24-hour security immediately after the cross went up.

        Several city officials last month criticized that decision, calling the security an error in judgment and saying it appeared that the police were protecting the Klan. City Council instead voted to bill the Klan, citing permit rules that allow the city to charge to enforce safety.

        After months of trying and failing to find a legal way to avoid issuing the Klan a permit for the annual cross, council members say they now hope the bill will dissuade the group from coming back.

        But the city manager and lawyers say it will likely end in court.
       

Texas man faces federal drug charge

        COVINGTON — A man arrested at the airport and charged with carrying 2 kilos of cocaine on a flight from Los Angeles to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., appeared in court here Tuesday.

        Jesse DeLeon, 35, of Texas, was charged in U.S. District Court with possessing 4.3 pounds — or roughly 2 kilograms — of cocaine at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The amount was intended for distribution in North Carolina rather than for Mr. DeLeon's personal use, said Fred Painter, an airport task force officer.

        Mr. DeLeon,being held at the Kenton County Jail, could face five to 40 years in prison if convicted.

        According to the federal complaint filed against him, Mr. DeLeon took Monday's red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Raleigh-Durham, and had a layover in Cincinnati.
       

Judge dismisses murder charge

        A Lockland man is free after a judge threw out a murder charge that could have sent him to prison for life.

        Dishon Burke, 20, was acquitted of murder and assault Tuesday. Prosecutors had accused him of killing Wendell Wilcher in Lockland on July 27.

        But Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge David Davis ruled that the prosecution's evidence “did not support a conviction.” Mr. Burke's attorney, Kevin BoBo, had argued that his client was involved in a scuffle with Mr. Wilcher but did not fire the fatal shot.

        Mr. Burke claimed he was defending himself and said the gun belonged to Mr. Wilcher.

        Mr. Wilcher, 32, was shot shortly after midnight. The Wyoming man died a few minutes later in an alley near Maple Street.
       

Adoption decision to come in March

        A magistrate will decide in March whether foster parents can pursue adoption of the first child in Greater Cincinnati to be dropped off at the Secret, Safe Place for Newborns program.

        The first step in the adoption process came Tuesday when the child's birth mother failed to show up for a hearing in juvenile court.

        If the mother fails to show again for a hearing in March, a magistrate will declare the child abandoned and allow the foster parents to begin adoption proceedings.

        The child, a baby girl, was dropped off at Mercy Franciscan Hospital Western Hills last week. The Safe Place program was created in August to give desperate parents who may not have thought about traditional adoption an alternative to abandoning a baby they realize they cannot handle.

        The program allows people to take a baby less than 3 days old to any Hamilton County hospital emergency department and walk away.
       

Hamilton County appeals arena ruling

        Hamilton County attorneys on Tuesday asked a state appeals court to overturn an earlier ruling that the county must pay Firstar Center for seizing the downtown arena's property rights.

        Hamilton County lawyers said any claim brought by Firstar Center should be based on contract rights, not property rights, because the arena doesn't own riverfront land.

        In October, a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge ruled that the county improperly seized Firstar Center's property rights when it started construction of Great American Ball Park. Arena owners claim construction has disrupted parking, staging and access.
       

Church group takes control of apartments

        The city of Cincinnati will give a church group control of 50 low-income apartments in Over-the-Rhine that were abandoned last year.

        The city, tenants and New Prospect Development Corp. will sign a contract allowing New Prospect to spend $50,000 in city funds to manage the 14 buildings and make emergency repairs. The tenants feared eviction and faced utility shutoffs when Debenhan LLC walked away from its units in mid-November.

        Not only will New Prospect have the responsibility of managing the apartments, it also will be asked to establish a long-term plan within 90 days to ensure that the dilapidated buildings are taken care of.

        Among the plans New Prospect will consider: joining Debenhan to rehabilitate the 50 apartments along with several other buildings New Prospect owns near Findlay Market.
       

Mercury spilled inside high school

        LEBANON — Hazardous-materials specialists were still at Lebanon High School on Tuesday night cleaning up a small mercury spill that apparently happened over the weekend, said Stu Long, the school district's director of business operations.

        The mercury, equal to the amount in five thermometers, was found on the floor of a classroom Tuesday morning. Science teachers applied a zinc compound to absorb the mercury, then called the Environmental Protection Agency, fire and police officials, and county hazardous-materials officials.

        “We're thankful it was not significant enough to pose a hazard,” Mr. Long said.

        Officials were not sure how the mercury was spilled. The room is supposed to be kept locked. An investigation is continuing.
       

Man had access to morgue for months

        Investigators think the photographer suspected of posing corpses in the Hamilton County morgue might have been at it for months.

        Thomas Condon had access to the morgue “over a several-month period,” said Sgt. Dave Lovett, a supervisor in the Cincinnati Police Division's vice unit.

        “We're still investigating and still interviewing witnesses and potential suspects,” Sgt. Lovett said Tuesday.

        Hamilton County Prosector Mike Allen said his office is investigating, too. County commissioners are expected to discuss the security breach at their meeting today.

        The coroner said he did not yet know how Mr. Condon apparently was allowed so much extra unsupervised access.

        Mr. Condon, of Mount Auburn, has not been charged.

       



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- Tristate A.M. Report