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Man pleads guilty to federal sex trafficking charges, faces 25 years in prison

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 13:43

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Columbus man could spend up to the next 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex trafficking charges in federal court.

Terrael A. Alls, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to sex trafficking and racketeering charges and can face between 19 to 25 years in prison, based on recommended sentencing guidelines.

Terrael Alexander Alls Woman with 649 warrants arrested in Columbus

According to a statement from United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Kenneth L. Parker, Alls, also known as “Rell” and “Ace,” served as a pimp for his victims, often giving them drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine and then using their drug dependency to control them.

The statement also says Alls pimped out his victims, advertising them for sexual escort services on different websites. He would then drive the victims to and from hotels, keeping all of the profits of the victims’ sexual encounters.

Alls also physically abused the trafficking victims, including once firing a gun near a woman’s head and threatening to pistol whip her. He also punched the victims and slammed them into tables.

According to the statement, police launched their investigation into Alls in February 2022 after a woman called 911 to report receiving a business card advertising Elite Diamond Studios from Alls, with Alls claiming it was a modeling agency. Investigators then linked the phone number on the card to Alls and various online sex escort advertisements.

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Forensic investigators were able to link Alls’ digital devices to locations or WiFi logins to several hotels in Columbus, Grove City, Worthington, and other central Ohio locations, the attorney’s office said. Alls’ laptop also contained more than 42,000 explicit images, videos, and advertisements including pictures and videos of the victims identified in the case.

Alls was arrested in March 2023.

Categories: Ohio News

Murder suspect who killed man found in car on I-71 pleads guilty, sentenced immediately

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 12:00

For a previous report on this story, view the video player above.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A man charged with murdering a person whose body was found on a Columbus interstate pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Tuesday and was sentenced immediately.

A Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge issued a sentence of 14 years to 19.5 years in prison to Michael Thilat, 31, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter when he shot and killed a man during a drug deal.

Thilat was accused of killing Anthony Luney, 56, on May 14, 2022. Luney was found slumped over the steering wheel of his Mini Cooper on Interstate 71 near Morse Road in Columbus.

Dave Chappelle performances scheduled in Yellow Springs

Court records stated that a Mini Cooper traveling northbound at approximately 60 mph was “bouncing off the center median wall.” Officers found Luney inside the stopped vehicle, south of State Route 161, with a gunshot wound to the torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrested Thilat for unrelated felony warrants, and while detectives questioned him, he reportedly admitted to shooting Luney during a drug deal, which turned into an altercation at a convenience store in the 3300 block of Maize Road. He was indicted on charges of murder and tampering with evidence in Franklin County Municipal Court.

In January, Thilat’s lawyers filed a notice of evidence that he shot Luney in self-defense, and on Thursday, prosecuting attorneys accepted a plea of guilty for involuntary manslaughter with a three-year firearm specification.

Judge Carl Aveni immediately sentenced Thilat to the maximum definite term, with Thilat having already served over 600 days.

Categories: Ohio News

Crew offers elevated classics and bold tastes as food options to fans this season

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 11:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Fans of a championship winning team deserve a meal worthy of a champion. And coming off their MLS Cup victory last December, the Columbus Crew look to elevate fans' taste buds this season at field.

Long before the Crew lifted their third MLS Cup, the kitchen was already thinking of what to cook up for 2024.

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"We started very early, midway through last season, when we were still going through the playoffs and stuff like that," executive chef John DiGiovanni said. "We knew that the season was coming right around the corner so the team and myself said, 'What are we looking at doing?'."

The result is a menu that elevates concession stand classics like burgers and hot dogs while offering bold tastes in creative ways.

"The ones that made it obviously are the ones that were good," DiGiovanni said. "We had a couple times where we would try something out  and then either make some minor tweaks to it or just go completely back to the drawing board and try something new."

Alongside footlong chili dogs and smashburgers, fans will have options like brisket egg rolls and barbeque platters.

One of the Crew's standout menu items this season is the Korean BBQ Puffle. In a twist on the classic "chicken and waffles", the puffle is made with a special waffle maker and folded like a sandwich with Korean fried chicken, kimchi slaw and sriracha aioli.

"Every puffle that we've seen has been more the sweet version as far as with the ice cream and the Nutella and stuff like that. So it was like, what could we do with that on the savory end."

DiGiovanni says the Crew will also offer the puffle with gyro meat as well as falafel for those with vegetarian preferences.

"The name of the game is having fun while we're doing it," DiGiovanni said.

The Crew open the season at home against Atlanta United at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Categories: Ohio News

One critically injured in south Columbus shooting

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 10:16

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- One person has been hospitalized after a shooting Wednesday morning in south Columbus.

A police dispatcher said officers went to the intersection of Parsons Avenue and East Whittier Street just before 12 p.m. One victim was found and taken to Grant Medical Center.

Hocking County prosecutor hit with sexual discrimination lawsuit

The victim's condition was described as "extremely critical" by a police dispatcher. The Columbus Division of Police did not share any information on a possible suspect as of 12:20 p.m.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio among top 10 states most plagued by spam calls

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 09:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A recent study revealed Ohio is among the top 10 states that are the most plagued by spam calls.

The study, by public records database Radaris, analyzed a dataset of over 5 million reported cases of spam calls in the “Do Not Call Data Books” from the Federal Trade Commission. The study compared the total number of calls from 2018 to 2022 to the population of each state to discover which got the most calls per 10,000 people.

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Ohio secured a spot at No. 10, with a total of 963,844 reported spam calls from 2018 to 2022. This equates to a rate of 819.97 spam calls per 10,000 people.

Arizona is the state the most affected by spam calls according to the study, with a total of 682,235 reported spam calls during the study period. Compared to the population of Arizona, the state receives 927.05 spam calls per 10,000 individuals.

Following closely behind, Colorado and Maryland claimed the second and third spots respectively. Colorado experienced a rate of 910.19 spam calls per 10,000 residents, while Maryland's inhabitants faced 893.42 spam calls per 10,000 individuals.

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Nevada took fourth place, facing 282,128 reported spam calls during the five-year period; the state had a rate of 887.82 per 10,000 residents. Virginia closed the top five, with 766,008 spam calls, and a rate of 882.13 per 10,000 people. 

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“States with high levels of economic activity and connectivity, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, also feature prominently on the list, suggesting a correlation between socioeconomic factors and spam call prevalence,” the study said. 

Delaware, New Jersey, Oregon, Connecticut and Ohio complete the top ten. On the other side of the list, Alaska, North Dakota, Mississippi, Indiana and Missouri are the states that registered the lowest number of spam calls in the country.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus-based pizzeria opens new location in Hilliard

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 09:00

HILLIARD, Ohio, (WCMH) - A Columbus-based pizzeria has expanded with a location in Hilliard.

Halwani's Pizza and Stromboli has launched its newest spot in Hilliard at 5425 Roberts Road, according to its social media page. This will operate in addition to its first location inside Grandview Center at 1453 Ida Ave. in Columbus.

(Courtesy: Halwani's Pizza & Stromboli)

Halwani's is inheriting the building that formerly housed Jerusalem Grill and Catering. That business announced on Dec. 11 that it was shutting down as part of a protest for a ceasefire in Gaza, and "in solidarity with the people of Palestine."

The pizza shop offers a variety of food including specialty pizza, Stromboli, subs and more. Customers can also choose from an assortment of pasta, vegetarian dishes and desserts as well.

The new location offers indoor seating, along with delivery and pickup for customers.

For additional information, click here.

Categories: Ohio News

Hocking County prosecutor hit with sexual discrimination lawsuit

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 08:30

LOGAN, Ohio (WCMH) – Two former employees of the Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office have filed a civil lawsuit against the prosecutor and the county, alleging a hostile workplace that involved sexual harassment and discrimination by the prosecutor.

According to the lawsuit, filed on Feb. 9, Prosecutor Ryan R. Black coerced one of the plaintiffs, Kelsey Vanscyoc, into a sexual relationship during the summer of 2022.

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Vanscyoc, who was employed as the lead victim advocate/director of the office’s victim service, alleged that Black used “the power and influence of his position” to have sexual relations with her twice over a six-week period. When Vanscyoc reported Black’s “unethical” behavior, she was the victim of a “retaliatory campaign” to get her to quit the office.

During their probation periods in their positions, the plaintiff’s coworkers described the prosecutor’s office as having a “frat house” atmosphere, alleging that Black said most of the problems in the office were attributed to the fact it was a “henhouse.”

According to the lawsuit, when Vanscyoc told Black she was pregnant in early 2022, Black asked her if she wanted him to get a coat hanger to terminate the pregnancy and joked about “pushing her down the stairs to terminate the pregnancy.” When Vanscyoc suffered a miscarriage, Black allegedly said he was happy about it.

The plaintiffs claim that Black also sent shirtless photos of himself to several women in the office and referred to the couch in his office as his “porn couch,” stating to the plaintiffs and another office employee that he “wants to film them on his couch and film them in bikinis.”

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Vanscyoc states that after the two sexual encounters with Black, she stopped the physical relationship, at which point, she claims Black began retaliating against her, ultimately demoting her and forcing her to resign.

“Plaintiff Vanscyoc was traumatized by Defendant Black’s abusive, intimidating and terrifying behavior toward her, yet, determined that she would attempt to keep the other female employees safe from harassment and discrimination, and felt it her duty to assume the brunt of Black’s discriminatory practices,” the lawsuit states.

Black also allegedly referred to women, including his then-fiancée, using derogatory terms, screamed at the plaintiffs both in the office and in court, and bragged about pulling a gun on a minor.

The lawsuit claims that Black told a male job candidate that he had “young hot broads” working in the office and that he “could get more.”

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The other plaintiff in the lawsuit, Kate Ricketts, a victims advocate clerk from February 2022 to April 2023, witnessed much of the harassment and also suffered professional repercussions for reporting Black's behavior, the lawsuit states.

“Plaintiffs believe their careers and reputations as government employees and victim advocates staff in Hocking County, Ohio have been destroyed by Mr. Black,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $75,000 in back pay, punitive damages, pain and suffering plus attorneys' fees and any additional damages deemed appropriate by the court.

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NBC4 does not normally name victims of alleged sexual harassment, but Vanscyoc and Ricketts’ names appear in the lawsuit, which is available to the public.

Black was elected to the office in 2020. An emailed request for comment to the prosecutors' office was unreturned as of Tuesday night.

The full lawsuit filing can be read below. WARNING: Graphic language in the lawsuit documents. Discretion is advised.

Categories: Ohio News

Dave Chappelle performances scheduled in Yellow Springs

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 08:26

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Actor, writer and award-winning comedian Dave Chappelle has announced four appearances in his hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Chappelle is scheduled to take the stage at the YS Firehouse, a former fire station he purchased in 2020 and rehabbed into a comedy club, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-24.

The Wednesday and Thursday shows are billed as "Dave Chappell & Friends," while Friday's performance is listed as "Dave Chappelle with De La Soul" and Saturday's act is "Rakim & J. PERIOD Live Mixtape Hosted by Dave Chappelle."

Ticketmaster listed prices at $180 a pair for Wednesday and Thursday, but showed the Friday and Saturday events as sold out.

Chappelle's last appearance at the YS Firehouse was on Dec. 15, 2023.

Previously in 2023, Chappelle received a temporary zoning permit for up to 15 performances between June 1 and Oct. 8 at the Wirrig family pavilion, an outdoor venue near his house. However, only three shows took place at the location before the Netflix star announced a multi-city tour that spanned Aug. 22 through Oct. 4, 2023.

Surprise shows and appearances are a hallmark of the comedian's career. In June, he stunned audience members in Bellefontaine, Ohio when he performed at the Holland Theatre during the “Light Up the Holland Comedy Marquee Fundraiser,” which raised money for the theater’s new marquee.

Categories: Ohio News

Woman charged with murdering five-year-old extradited to Columbus

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 07:23

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A woman who was arrested and jailed in northeast Ohio, several days after a five-year-old was found dead in Columbus, will be extradited to Franklin County Wednesday.

Columbus Police Sergeant Joe Albert confirmed that Pammy Maye will be brought back to Franklin County to be processed for the murder of five-year-old Darnell Taylor.

Woman with 649 warrants arrested in Columbus

Maye, 48, was taken to Cuyahoga County Jail Sunday afternoon on a fugitive warrant after an Amber Alert was issued on Feb. 14 for Taylor, who was thought to have been abducted by Maye.

Brooklyn, Ohio police located Maye southwest of Cleveland on Feb. 15, and she provided the location of Taylor’s body. On Feb. 16 police located Taylor’s body shortly after 1 a.m. in the 1000 block of Marsdale Avenue, on Columbus’ Southwest Side.

Maye’s charges of kidnapping and child endangerment in Franklin County Municipal Court were dropped and she has since been charged with murder.

Darnell Taylor, left, and Pammy MayeDarnell Taylor, left, and Pammy Maye

The Amber Alert was issued Feb. 14 at 5:10 a.m., with initial reports believing Maye had taken Taylor from a south Columbus home in the 900 block of Reeb Avenue, about 5 miles from where Taylor’s body was found.

During a 911 call, Maye’s husband told operators that his wife said she had killed Taylor. Before the call ended, Maye fled the house. Her vehicle was recovered hours later in Brooklyn with no sign of her or Taylor.

Taylor was referred to multiple service agencies, including behavioral health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and case management, according to children’s services, before Maye and her husband became legal guardians of him in May 2023.

Categories: Ohio News

Welcome home, Columbus Fury: First match set for Nationwide Arena on Wednesday

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 06:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- It's almost time for first serve at Nationwide Arena. The final preparations are underway as the Columbus Fury get set for its home opener in the inaugural season of the Pro Volleyball Federation.

The Fury is still seeking its first win after dropping its opening two matches on the road against Grand Rapids and Orlando. Columbus will play Omaha on Wednesday, with the match scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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"I think it takes a little bit of time with a young team like this to develop," coach Angel Perez. "To believe in themselves and to bring that confidence that they can compete at any level so I think it's going to take a little bit of time."

Perez has seen growth from his players over the first two matches. Monday marked the first time the players were able to practice on their home court at Nationwide Arena and they admit that the surroundings take some getting used to.

"This is my first time getting to even see this arena and it's amazing. It's massive," outside hitter Reagan Cooper said. "Depth perception is definitely something that we're going to work on with the couple of practices we have in here. Serve receive especially, depth perception affects it a lot so we're already feeling good after [Monday]'s practice."

Fury libero Valeria León is a former Ohio State player who plans to have some familiar faces in the crowd cheering her and the team on Wednesday night. She says she's grateful to play in Columbus again.

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"I think we have to play a clean game. Lower our mistakes and just stay together," León said. "Follow the game plan that our coaches are going to provide to us, and hopefully that's enough for us to get the win."

Cooper hopes home-court advantage can deliver a win.

"We've played in a couple of arenas but this is the biggest by far," she said. "Hopefully, we can fill it up and the atmosphere I hope will be great in here."

Categories: Ohio News

Early voting begins in Ohio's March 2024 primary: how, where and when to vote

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 05:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Early voting has begun in an election that will determine which candidates for major state and national races will appear on November ballots.

Early in-person and absentee voting started Wednesday in the March primary election. Voters can cast ballots most days leading up to the weekend before Election Day, so long as they come with photo identification.

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Voters will decide on several important primary races, including for Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Democratic nominee for the Ohio Supreme Court and, in central Ohio, Democratic nominee for the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office. A bevy of school board levies and local races will also appear on the ballot.

"In a lot of instances, the primaries are the race that will, for all intents and purposes, pick the race," Franklin County Board of Elections spokesperson Aaron Sellers said.

Because Ohio's primaries are considered partially open, voters can choose whichever party's ballot they wish to vote with. Unless requesting an issues-only ballot, voters who select a party's primary ballot will be registered with that party for the next two years.

A photo ID is required to vote early in person at county boards of elections. Valid forms of photo ID include an Ohio driver's license, a U.S. passport or passport, U.S. military ID, an Ohio National Guard ID, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ID or an Ohio ID card, available for free at Ohio bureau of motor vehicle locations. Out-of-state licenses are not valid IDs.

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If you don't have a valid form of photo ID, you can vote by mail without it. You must first submit an absentee ballot request form, available on the Secretary of State’s website, by mail or in person. Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by March 18 or returned in person to county elections boards by the time polls close on March 19.

Here's when you can vote early in the March primary election:

  • Feb. 21-23: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Feb. 26-March 1: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • March 4-8: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • March 9: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • March 11: 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • March 12: 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
  • March 13-15: 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • March 16: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • March 17: 1-5 p.m.

View your sample ballot and find your polling location on the Secretary of State's website.

Categories: Ohio News

Pedestrian struck, driver flees in northeast Columbus hit-and-run

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 03:45

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A second hit-and-run was reported Tuesday night after an adult male was struck by a vehicle while crossing a northeast Columbus intersection.

Columbus police said that a pedestrian was crossing Cleveland Avenue at East 13th Avenue when a blue SUV, traveling southbound on Cleveland Ave., struck the man. The victim was taken to an area hospital with serious injuries but is expected to survive.

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The driver fled the scene.

It was the second hit-and-run reported Tuesday night after two police officers were hospitalized when their cruiser was struck on an Interstate 71 exit ramp. That driver was eventually detained, and the officers were listed in stable condition at Grant Medical Center.

Police ask that any person with knowledge of the involved vehicle or driver in the Cleveland Ave. collision to contact the Accident Investigation Unit at (614) 645-4767 or anonymously call Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477.

Categories: Ohio News

Bipartisan bill would cap diabetes medication costs in Ohio

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 03:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Nearly 1 million Ohio residents are diagnosed with diabetes and rely on insulin to manage the chronic health condition. A bipartisan bill in the Ohio House would cap the cost of insulin for all Ohioans.

House Bill 384, or the Insulin Reduction Act, is sponsored by Reps. Munira Abdullahi (D-Columbus) and Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township). The bill would cap the price of insulin at $35 for a 30-day supply, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill a diabetic's prescription.

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The federal government capped insulin costs at $35 in the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 but only for seniors with Medicare health insurance. The Insulin Reduction Act would expand the cap so that all diabetics in Ohio could get medicine for the same price.

The two-page bill, along with capping insulin prices at $35, would not allow diabetic devices, such as glucose monitors, insulin pumps and lancing devices to exceed $100. 

The total cost of insulin and other medications to manage blood glucose increased by 26% from 2017 to 2022, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“Some people, they’re paying more and more for insulin, and they’re having to make those tough decisions on, well, do I take my insulin, which people need to live and survive, or do I get to eat tonight or get to eat this week,” Hall said.

The bill is personal to both Abdullahi and Hall – Hall was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 10 years old, and Abdullahi was diagnosed in her early 20s. 

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“I remember having to work a full-time job [in college] just to keep the insurance coverage that I had and pay for insulin and diabetic medication and it was just outrageously expensive,” Abdullahi said.

Without adequate insurance, the most commonly prescribed forms of insulin can cost more than $300 for a single vial in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. A total of 25 states, not including Ohio, have capped copayments for insulin, according to the ADA.

“A lot of people pay with insurance, $60 to $100 for a copay just to get this life-saving drug,” Abdullahi said. “There’s a lot of people who, unfortunately, have been reported to [ration] their insulin because it’s so expensive, like I remember I had to do that as well… which is so dangerous, you could literally die.”

High blood sugar, which commonly occurs when diabetics don’t have enough insulin, can result in numerous health conditions, such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, lower limb amputations and diabetic ketoacidosis, which can lead to a diabetic coma or death.

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Insulin isn’t the only cost diabetics need to consider. Abdullahi said she was having difficulties getting DexComs, a glucose monitoring system, and was quoted $650 out of pocket, without insurance, for a month’s supply.

“Then we fought against it, got my insurance to cover it again, and now it’s $180, which is still a lot,” Abdullahi said. “And imagine if you don’t have a good paying job, you’ve got bills to pay, you’ve got a family to feed, like $180 a month is just not feasible.”

House Bill 384 has been assigned to the insurance committee and is awaiting its first hearing. Abdullahi and Hall encouraged anyone interested in submitting support testimony to reach out to their offices. 

Categories: Ohio News

Sunshine, milder, rain returns Thursday

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 00:49
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather

High pressure sliding east of the Ohio Valley will provide another day of sunshine and a mild southerly flow, with temperatures rising into the 50s.

A disturbance in the Plains will slide east, drawing moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in increasing clouds this evening, followed by periods of rain late tonight and Thursday. Central Ohio can expect a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of rain.

A sharp cold front will swing through the state early on Friday, ushering in seasonably cold weather for the weekend.

  • Wednesday: Mostly sunny, mild. High 58
  • Tonight: Clouds increase, rain late. Low 45
  • Thursday: Periods of rain. High 52
  • Friday: Mix clouds and sun. High 46 (38)
  • Saturday: Partly sunny, brisk, colder. High 38 (28)
  • Sunday: Clouds increase, breezy, warmer. High 56 (28)
  • Monday: Sunny. High 60 (38)
  • Tuesday: Showers. High 65 (46)
Categories: Ohio News

Woman with 649 warrants arrested in Columbus

News Channel 4 - Tue, 02/20/2024 - 21:22

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A Pennsylvania truck driver with 649 arrest warrants filed against her was arrested in Columbus last week.

According to Columbus Police, Ahyoka Keith, also known as Carol Ann Sumner, was arrested on Feb. 16 without incident.

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In a social media post, Columbus police said the department was contacted by the Spring Township Police Department in Bellefontaine, Pa., on Feb. 9, asking Columbus for help in finding Keith. Spring Township believed that as an over-the-road truck driver, Keith may be in the Columbus area.

Columbus police said Keith had a total of 649 warrants for her arrest, 322 felonies and 327 misdemeanors related to theft.

The Spring Township police are coordinating with Franklin County courts to have Keith returned to Pennsylvania.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus schools task force reviewing possible school closures, consolidations

News Channel 4 - Tue, 02/20/2024 - 20:47

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Columbus City School’s superintendent’s facilities task force is taking a look at district enrollment, building use, capacity and conditions.

The task force is made up of people from many areas of the community who take a look at whether schools should be closed, consolidated or left as is. This process has some community members asking questions.

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"Kids are the heartbeat of our city. Everything that we're doing revolves around how we're addressing our youth. I think it's important for us to come together collaborate, join forces," WE ARE LINDEN chair, alumni parent of Linden-McKinley, North Linden area commissioner Ebony Fadis said.

"We want to just really get to the nitty-gritty and see what's the plan moving forward," WE ARE LINDEN Founder and Executive Director Ralph Carter said.

The task force will come up with a list of recommendations after engaging with the community; those recommendations could include closing or consolidating certain schools.

"When I heard about it, of course, you know, it was a lot of concern," Carter said. "Nothing's set in stone. I guess it's a, yeah, just pure conversation. We just want to, you know, see what's going on and look forward to a solution."

Others at Tuesday's meeting came to learn more and make sure they would have a chance to give input.

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"I don't think the community knows as a whole and for the masses and we want to bring awareness to encourage them to get involved and to read more," Carter said.

District superintendent Dr. Angela Chapman, who leads the task force, was at the meeting. The district said it would not make board members available to answer questions as the board will be receiving and weighing the committee's recommendations.

"It means for them to be transparent about what's coming down the pipeline, what that looks like?" Fadis said.

A link to more information about the task force can be found here. This includes the recommendations the 2018 task force made and the community outreach that was done during that time.

Categories: Ohio News

Police officers injured, cruiser hit in I-71 ramp hit and run

News Channel 4 - Tue, 02/20/2024 - 18:55

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Two Columbus police officers are hospitalized after their cruiser was struck in a hit-and-run crash on an Interstate 71 ramp Tuesday night.

Columbus police said the crash happened at approximately 7:30 p.m. on the I-71 northbound ramp to Interstate 70 westbound.

The officers were taken to Grant Medical Center in stable condition.

The driver who hit the police cruiser fled the scene, but was later detained, police said.

The ramp was closed for a period, but reopened by 8:55 p.m., according to OHGO.

Categories: Ohio News

Non-profit unveils affordable childcare in Hilltop

News Channel 4 - Tue, 02/20/2024 - 18:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A west side non-profit is hoping its new center will help area families solve the problem of finding quality, affordable childcare.

“Affordable childcare until you hit preschool age is really, really hard to find. They’re out there, but it's just really hard to find," said Andrea Douglass, parent of a 3-year-old.

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It's why she spent part of her Tuesday morning at Lower Lights Ministries Child Enrichment Center's open house. She wanted to see if it was a place she'd like for her daughter.

“We’re going to have to do a lot of cleanup from all the toys she got into," Douglass said. "This is really great. It feels like what you would expect from a childcare center from a parent.”

The nonprofit wanted to bring more affordable, accessible, and quality childcare to the community, according to Emmalyn Jerome, Lower Lights Ministries CEO. Between finding a space for the center to construction, the project took several years, starting in 2020. Now the center is full of toys and educational materials.

“Blighted empty space and fast forward to today, it's like wow, just an amazing transformation," Jerome said. "Today is just a day of celebration to be able to have an open house and say to the Hilltop neighborhood, central Hilltop neighborhood as well as the whole west side of Columbus like hey this is for you and for your community, for our community."

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The center will start with offering early learning to kids as young as 18 months. The project started under Jan Ruark, Lower Lights Ministries CEO Emeritus. She said the center will benefit kids, families, and the community as a whole.

“I had not seen it during the construction, and I was able to walk in and just kind of burst into tears to be honest with you,” Ruark said. “It's so beautiful, but the children in this community deserve every bit of this and more. It's perfect for them.”

The nonprofit plans to have the center up and running in late March. Jerome said families interested in enrolling can stop in or check out its website.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio commission reviewing state's gaming outlets

News Channel 4 - Tue, 02/20/2024 - 17:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A new commission at the Ohio Statehouse is taking a closer look at all types of gaming throughout the state.

“It brings a ton of revenue in the state and it's one of these things that I feel like the legislature just doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about, doesn’t really understand it,” Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said. “It’s a big deal, it’s very complex.”

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Edwards is co-chairing the new Study Commission on The Future of Gaming in Ohio, alongside state Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville). Edwards said the study commission is not about new legislation.

“It’s really more about talking about the current products, talking about what the future holds and looking back to see if we’ve gotten anything wrong,” Edwards said.

The commission includes state legislators and representatives from the Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio Lottery Commission, and Ohio Horse Racing Commission.

“I’m sure we’re not going to answer every question, but we will be sort of a road map, so that if a lawmaker, whether they’re on the study commission or not on the study commission, they’ll have some insight,” Edwards said.

During the first meeting, Executive Director of the Casino Control Commission Matthew Schuler presented and highlighted responsible gambling programs, how profits are spent, and how gambling problems are measured and tracked to best mediate them.

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“We require both the casinos and the sports books to identify changes in behavior of their customers that we would call ‘markers of harm,’” Schuler said.

Schuler said a “marker of harm” may be something like a sudden change in behavior. For example, someone who typically spends $20 a week begins betting up to $400 immediately.

“It might involve someone saying, ‘Hey, we’ve noticed what you’re doing and here’s information,’” Schuler said. “The problem is not all operators are doing this the same way or are using the words and actions that a trained clinician uses. What are those words? Because if you hit someone blunt, they’re probably going to walk away.”

Schuler said they are also looking at how to track an individual who is wagering over multiple operations. He said the state of New Jersey has done that, and they are talking with them about it.

Schuler said a significant part of the population does have a gambling problem and noted that sports gamblers have the highest risk of developing one. However, he said more people have gotten help for it since its legalization about one year ago.

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“[The legalization] allows people to kind of come out of the shadows, seek treatment, and be able to talk about it,” Schuler said. “Because it’s hard when it’s considered an illegal activity.”

The commission plans to discuss several other current programs like lottery, charitable gaming, and sports betting. Sports betting has been legal in the state for just more than one year, so Edwards said he thinks this is “perfect timing” for the commission.

“It gives us an opportunity to see if sports gaming is working, is it not working, are there issues, what does the future hold,” he said.

The commission will not only focus on the present but also the future, for things like iLottery and iGaming.

“I think that the ball really is in the General Assembly’s court,” Schuler said.

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“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it is going to be ‘when,’ on these iGaming and iLottery conversations,” Edwards said. “This study commission isn’t trying to push those things along; it’s really trying to be more cautious.”

Edwards said while iLottery and iGaming might serve as a “real revenue for the state,” it is also about ensuring safeguards for Ohioans and for the state.

“There’s a lot of chatter around the statehouse about iLottery, about iGaming. We’re really hoping to pump the breaks on that, let this commission do its work,” he said. “We will learn more about it, figure out the pros and cons to what other states have done.”

Edwards said when it comes to iGaming and iLottery, there are several factors to take into consideration, like the impact on brick-and-mortar establishments.

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“Are you taking away from the retail establishment? A lot of people go in to buy a lottery ticket, they’re also buying soda or coffee or a candy bar, whatever. How much is that going to impact retail folks?” he said. “How much is that going to impact the retail folks that have invested in hiring people and doing business all over the state and paying taxes to the state?”

Edwards said by the end of June they plan to have a report, which he said he hopes will act as a roadmap to legislators as they move forward with new bills related to gaming.

The commission will meet again twice in March and once in April.

Categories: Ohio News

Why did Spotify make unauthorized charges to woman's credit card? There may be an answer

News Channel 4 - Tue, 02/20/2024 - 16:30

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, Ohio (WCMH) -- Molly Mickle, who we told you about earlier this month, noticed mysterious charges to her credit card from Spotify.

The charges mystified the Washington Court House resident to the extent that she was issued replacement credit cards -- seven of them -- but still, the charges to the music service she never heard of or signed up for continued.

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The day after Mickle's story aired, Better Call 4 got a message from a former debit card dispute specialist, who asked to remain anonymous, offering a possible explanation for Mickle's ongoing saga.

To start, Mickle's credit cards were MasterCards. That's important, the dispute specialist said, because, "MasterCard has a convenience feature called Automatic Billing Updater." It's a service that "participating merchants can use to help ensure minimal disruption to recurring transactions or for instances where the merchant may store card information in the event a customer has a reissued or updated card number due to replacement."

In other words, if Mickle's initial credit card number was compromised and used for Spotify, she would continue to be charged, even after her credit card number changed.

The dispute specialist said they previously spoke with a lot of frustrated customers like Mickle "who had unauthorized charges applied to their accounts as soon as they activated their new cards."

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They also spoke with the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about the issue, and recommended that any other customers experiencing a similar problem file complaints with those agencies as well.

Categories: Ohio News


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