Friday, October 19, 2001

Tristate A.M. Report

United Way gets $250,000 donation

        The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, one of the city's biggest philanthropic organizations, is giving United Way a special, one-time $250,000 contribution.

        Foundation officials said Thursday they wanted to help United Way meet this year's $60 million fund-raising goal. The grant means United Way has raised $39.5 million — or 65.7 percent of its goal at a time when the agency is worried about the local economic downturn and the surprise Sept. 11 attack.

        “We share your concern for protecting our community's ability to maintain basic services at a time when they are needed more than ever, and hope that this significant grant from (the foundation) helps,” said Kathryn E. Merchant, the foundation's president and chief executive officer.

        United Way's annual campaign concludes Oct. 26.

[photo] GETTING A READ ON ART: A bronze statue called “The Classics” has been installed near the entrance of the new Lane Library on Wessel Drive in Fairfield. This is the second work in a series by George W. Lundeen to be placed in various locations throughout Fairfield. The works of art are being paid for through donations and money from the Fairfield City Council. The total cost of the pieces is $187,000.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        Anyone interested in contributing to United Way can call 762-7100, pledge online at, or mail a check to United Way 2001 Campaign, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati 45202.

UC Clermont offers forum on terrorism

               The University of Cincinnati Clermont's Diversity Task force is sponsoring a forum on “Terrorism and the Middle East,” 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 26. The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be in 143 Snyder Hall. Four local authorities on terrorism and America's response to the recent attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center will speak about the disaster and how we can prevent further attacks. Information: 513-732-5200.

Congress OKs $3M for Freedom Center

               WASHINGTON — The House and the Senate voted Wednesday to approve an Interior Department spending bill for the next fiscal year that includes $3 million for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

        The federal money would go toward construction of the riverfront museum. The bill also contains $500,000 in grants for other Underground Railroad sites across the country.

        Now that the House and Senate have acted, the bill goes to President Bush for his signature.

        Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who asked for the money, said the vote shows continued federal support for the project.

        Last week, the House also voted to add $1.7 million to a labor, health and education-spending bill that could be awarded in part to the Freedom Center for cultural programs.

2 arrested in scheme to sell bogus Viagra

        HAMILTON — Two men have been charged in connection with an alleged Internet scheme to import and sell bogus Viagra, a prescription sexual-enhancement drug.

               Hassib Selbak, 50, of Liberty Township, and a relative, Nassim F. Nwaisser, were charged with trademark counterfeiting in an indictment issued Thursday.

        Last month, the Butler County Sheriff's Office announced investigators had intercepted shipments of 36,000 fake Viagra tablets that were coming from China. The pills were hidden inside large white teddy bears.

        Assistant Prosecutor Craig Hedric said Mr. Nwaisser helped package some of the drugs.

        Authorities also seized a bank account containing $104,000.        

Prescription drug charges involve six

               MIDDLETOWN — Detectives have charged six suspects in a series of crimes involving prescription painkillers, a news release said Thursday.

        The suspects were all charged with felony deception to obtain a dangerous drug.

        On Oct. 10, police said, they learned that Nora Theile, 55, worked for a nursing service and used that information to call four different pharmacies with bogus prescriptions for herself and three other people: Kathy Kash, 49; Rita Matthews, 47; and Pryse Johnson Jr., 38. The staff of the Walgreen's pharmacy, 700 S. Breiel Blvd., helped police. Other pharmacies allegedly used included the Middletown Kmart and two CVS pharmacies, one on North University Boulevard, Middletown, and one in Franklin.

        On Oct. 11, Detective Jim Cunningham found that Amanda Jo Martin, 21, attempted to pass an altered prescription at the Walgreen's, police said.

        On Oct. 15, Walgreen's reported that Marietta Ledford, 42, attempted to pass a forged or altered prescription for OxyContin.

Home radon-testing kits free for taking

               Hamilton County residents can pick up free home radon-testing kits while supplies last from the Hamilton County General Health District.

        The agency has 500 kits to give away that can be used to detect radon gas, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. While found in low amounts in soil throughout large portions of Greater Cincinnati, the gas can pose a health risk when it accumulates in basements and ground floors.

        Test kits are available during weekday business hours at the health district headquarters, 2nd floor, 250 William Howard Taft Road. For information, call 946-7800.

Children's physician elected to Institute

        Dr. Thomas Boat, chairman of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Medical Center and director of the hospital's research foundation, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, a high-profile arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

               The Institute of Medicine conducts frequent studies on national medical policy issues. Recently it released reports on medical errors, Medicare reform, vaccine safety, mental health, and the protection of military personnel from biological and chemical hazards.

        Dr. Boat was one of 60 medical leaders nationwide elected this year to serve five-year terms. The group includes 632 active members.

Morgue clerk fired for copying photos

        A Hamilton County clerk who admitted in open court that he copied morgue photographs seized by police during a search of Thomas Condon's studio and showed them to friends has been fired.

               Clerk of Courts Jim Cissell fired Michael Helton on Monday. Mr. Helton testified Oct. 10 during the trial of Mr. Condon and Dr. Jonathan Tobias about what he'd done. He was suspended that day without pay.

        Mr. Helton told officials he didn't think he did anything wrong, because the documents were public records.

        Mr. Cissell said there is no policy prohibiting employees from doing what Mr. Helton did.

        “It was completely contrary to our standards,” he said.

        Mr. Helton, a supervisor in the court's municipal traffic division, was hired in 1993.

        Mr. Condon and Dr. Tobias were convicted Tuesday of multiple counts of gross abuse of a corpse.

        The charges stemmed from photos of autopsied bodies posed with inanimate objects.

        Both men will be sentenced Dec. 13 and could face up to a year in prison on each count.


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