Court Round Up

Ohio: Clerk accused of cheating two lottery winners
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say a service station clerk given two winning Ohio Lottery tickets by undercover agents said they were no good, but later claimed the $6,200 in prize money for himself.

Lottery spokesman Marie Kilbane says 55-year-old Mahmoud Ikhlayel of suburban Columbus is the first person charged under a new initiative to make sure lottery winners aren’t being cheated at retail counters.

Court records show Ikhlayel pleaded not guilty this month to two counts of theft and two counts of telecommunications fraud and was released on a recognizance bond.

The lottery says it had received complaints about Ikhlayel, who worked at a downtown Columbus gas station. The business cooperated in the sting.

California: School district sues over rape of 13-year-old
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The family of a 13-year-old girl seduced and repeatedly raped by a middle school construction worker is suing the San Bernardino Unified School District claiming officials failed to protect the girl after learning of the abuse.

Registered sex offender Darold Hecht began talking to the girl in August 2006 while he was working for his father-in-law’s construction company, which was building new facilities at Cesar E. Chavez Middle School. In October, the suit says Hecht began to repeatedly rape, batter and sexually abuse the girl.

He was convicted on child sex charges in the case and is in prison.

The San Bernardino County Superior Court lawsuit filed against the district seeks more than $5 million in damages.

School district officials haven’t commented on the suit so far.

South Carolina: Jury awards $14.5M in fire at printing company
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina federal jury has awarded more than $14 million to a South Carolina printing company over a claim its insurance company refused to pay after a 2008 fire.

Multiple media outlets report that a Greenville County jury Thursday found that The Hartford insurance company was wrong to deny the printing company’s claim.

Genesis had claimed the insurance company broke its contract by refusing to pay out on a multimillion-dollar claim when Genesis’ Greenville facility was damaged by arson. Attorneys for

The Hartford said the company’s co-owners conspired to burn their own business.

Genesis attorney Dick Harpootlian says the $14.5 million award will help his client rebuild. Attorneys for The Hartford say they plan to appeal.

Massachusetts: Accused grandma killer wants to see evidence dismissed
WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — The lawyer for a Boston man accused of stabbing his grandmother to death in her Weston home has asked a judge to dismiss some evidence.

James Clark’s lawyer told a Middlesex Superior Court judge on Thursday that evidence seized from the Dorchester halfway house where Clark was living was seized after police improperly obtained a search warrant.

Prosecutors countered that Clark had no expectation of privacy because he had been evicted the night before the slaying and had essentially abandoned his property.

The MetroWest Daily News reports that the judge did not immediately rule.

Authorities say Clark, a British citizen who has spent most of his life in the U.S., stabbed Eleanor Clark during a fight in March 2009. He is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to charges including first-degree murder.

Nebraska: Judge approves settlements in pollution case
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has approved a $350,000 settlement in a pollution case involving a northeast Nebraska dairy.

Under the settlement entered Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Mark Peckham of Sheridan, Wyo., will pay civil penalties for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

Peckham had owned a butter and buttermilk production plant and was sued in 2008 by the Environmental Protection Agency. A trial had been set for July.

The other three defendants were the city of West Point, West Point Dairy Products and Wimmers Meat Products, all of which have previously agreed to settlements.

They’re accused of dumping pollutants into West Point’s wastewater treatment system and Elkhorn River from the late 1970s until 2006.

Missouri: Husband sues estranged wife over baby’s death

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — A St. Charles County woman has been sued by her estranged husband in the death of their 6-week-old son.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 47-year-old Joseph Potter is seeking more than $25,000 in damages from 41-year-old Alyssa Rae Potter of Lake St. Louis. The two are in the process of getting a divorce.

Police said Alyssa Potter had passed out from intoxication when her infant son, Wyatt, suffocated in bed with her. Prosecutors in March dropped charges after a grand jury failed to indict her on child endangerment.

Joseph Potter was at work when the baby died. Blood taken from Alyssa Potter at the hospital nearly four hours later showed her blood-alcohol content was 0.20. Missouri’s legal limit for driving is 0.08.

Colorado: The Fray settles suit against band’s former manager

DENVER (AP) — Members of The Fray have settled a lawsuit against the band’s former manager.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court this week didn’t disclose terms.

The Denver-based band had accused Gregg Latterman of failing to disclose a deal with a music publisher that awarded him hundreds of thousands of dollars from the band’s songwriting royalties.

Latterman disputed that and filed counterclaims alleging breach of contract, saying the band tried to end his management contract early and that band members owed him $750,000 for commission and other expenses.

Earlier this month, a magistrate judge ruled that Latterman could argue at trial that the band’s attorney was aware of terms of the deal.

Florida: Tobacco trial jury awards widow $29 million verdict
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Hollywood widow who says her husband could barely breathe for the last 13 years of his life has won a $29 million verdict in a tobacco trial.

A Broward County jury handed down the verdict Thursday for 77-year-old Connie Buonomo. She says she wanted to send a message to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the corporation she blames for her husband’s illness and death.

Company spokesman David Howard says they plan to appeal the decision.

Matthew Buonomo started smoking as a teenager. He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2008. He was 80.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in Florida by smokers or their survivors blaming tobacco companies for serious health problems and deaths.

Alabama: 2 attorneys in $5M bribery case over murder
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An assistant district attorney for Coosa County and a Gadsden lawyer have been arrested on charges of extortion and bribery in an alleged scheme to get a $5 million payoff in return for keeping a man from being indicted in a 1995 murder case.

The state attorney general’s office said Thursday authorities arrested Frank Selman Teel of Sylacauga, who is an assistant district attorney in Coosa County, and Gadsden attorney Frank Wayne Bailey, after the two got a check for $1 million.

Teel, 59, and Bailey, 58, were arrested Wednesday night and released Thursday afternoon from the Etowah County Jail on $10,000 bond each, jail officials said.

Gadsden attorney Morgan Cunningham said he and his father, Eddie Cunningham, would be representing Bailey. He said they worked Thursday mostly on getting their client released from jail and did not have enough information about the charges to comment.

Sylacauga attorney Rod Giddens said he expects he will represent Teel, but has not been officially hired.

A statement from Attorney General Troy King’s office said the two are accused of seeking $5 million from Carl Weaver, who could face a capital murder charge in a 1995 killing. The statement did not provide details on the murder case.

It said the two used the threat of indictment to force Weaver to pay a multimillion-dollar settlement of a civil lawsuit stemming from the case, or alternatively sought $5 million to have the county prosecutor use his official position to prevent Weaver’s indictment.

The statement said they used threats to obtain the $1 million belonging to Weaver or Jay Stover, an attorney for Weaver.

Weaver could not immediately be reached for comment. Stover did not immediately return a call to his office.