National Roundup

Man pleads guilty to selling urine for drug tests

PITTSBURGH (AP) — An Ohio man who sold fake urine meant to help people pass workplace drug tests and misbranded other substances the federal government says are drugs has pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh.
Sixty-one-year-old David Neal, of Middletown, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to defraud the United States and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. He faces up to six years in prison when he’s sentenced May 13.
Federal prosecutors say he sold the illegal substances online through his company, ACS Herbal Tea.
Prosecutors say Neal’s products, including “Magnum Unisex Synthetic Urine,” were designed to thwart tests overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Such tests are used to screen airline pilots and some federal employees, including FBI agents.
Neal’s attorney didn’t immediately return messages.

Judge: Court to decide fate of exotic animals

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) — Ohio will continue to keep 11 exotic animals it seized from a sanctuary last week until a state appeals court weighs in on the case.
After initially ordering that the seized animals be returned, a northern Ohio judge on Tuesday said jurisdiction in the case now lies with an appeals court following the state’s challenge to his order.
Ohio’s agriculture department removed the animals last week after denying the owner a permit. The agency says cages and fencing at the property near Toledo could allow some of them to escape. The state also says conditions at the animal sanctuary were inhumane.
The owner didn’t appear in court for the brief hearing Tuesday.
Ohio began requiring owners to register exotic animals after a suicidal man released dozens of animals in 2011.

New York
Grand jury indicts 16 in identity theft, tax scam

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal grand jury in western Pennsylvania has indicted 16 people — most from the New York City area — in a wire fraud and identity theft ring that prosecutors say caused the Internal Revenue Service to pay more than $10 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh and Erie say the group stole the identities of more than 11,000 people and used the information to open nearly 3,500 phony bank accounts involving more than 440 financial institutions.
Authorities say the group used the stolen identities to submit tax returns claiming $38 million in refunds, more than $10 million of which was actually paid.
Most of those involved face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, though two key members face more than 36 years each.

New York
Lindsay Lohan, mother file defamation suit

NEW YORK (AP) — Actress Lindsay Lohan and her mother have filed a lawsuit accusing Fox News Network, TV host Sean Hannity and guest commentator Michelle Fields of defamation for claiming the actress and her mother did cocaine together.
According to court papers filed Monday, the claim was made during a discussion of celebrity overdoses on Hannity’s show on Feb. 4, 2014, two days after actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose.
Court papers say Fields stated as a “matter a fact” that Dina Lohan was doing cocaine with her daughter. Lohan’s lawyers say Fox posted the segment on its website.
The suit says the Lohans are demanding that the segment be taken off Hannity’s website. They’re also seeking unspecified damages.
Messages seeking comment from Fox New weren’t immediately returned.

Judge seals all evidence in rape trial at university

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A judge has sealed all the evidence presented at trial against two former Vanderbilt University football players who were convicted of gang-raping a fellow student.
Open records advocates told The Tennessean ( that the move is unprecedented in Nashville courts.
The order issued by Judge Monte Watkins on Wednesday says it is “reasonable and appropriate” to seal all evidence presented during the 12-day trial, which was open to the public. There were more than 75 exhibits presented.
Robb Harvey, an attorney representing a media coalition that has been fighting for records in the case, says he is unaware of any other case in which evidence presented at a public trial was sealed afterward.
The order was issued one day after the convictions.

Deputy retires over sheriff’s ban on Western attire

PINEDALE, Wyo. (AP) — The new sheriff of a Wyoming county has banned his deputies from wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots, a change that led one longtime deputy to retire rather than give up his Western attire.
Sublette County Sheriff Stephen Haskell imposed the new dress code in the western Wyoming county that includes Pinedale, which True West magazine recently named a true Western town.
Haskell is requiring deputies to wear black trousers, a tan shirt, black boots and a black ball cap, saying the change is for safety and uniformity.
“I’m very much for the Western way of life and the look. And that’s the way I dress,” Haskell told the Casper Star-Tribune. “However, for a professional outfit ... I like everybody to look the same. We are one team unified in one purpose. That is to do our job.”
Haskell, 53, who has worked in law enforcement for three years, also argues that cowboy boots are slippery on ice and cowboy hats can blow away in Wyoming’s blustery wind.
The change led Deputy Gene Bryson to retire after 28 years with the department and about 40 years total in law enforcement. His uniform was a brown cowboy hat, brown cowboy boots and a leather vest in the summer or a wool vest in the winter.
The uniform change is “kind of the reason why I retired,” said Bryson. “I am not going to change. I’ve been here for 40-odd years in the sheriff’s office, and I’m not going to go out and buy combat boots and throw my vest and hat away and say, ‘This is the new me.’”
Bryson was born and raised on a ranch in Montana. He went into law enforcement in 1974.
“And I’ve had a cowboy hat on since 19 — I don’t know,” Bryson said. “That’s what looks good to me in the sheriff’s department. It’s Western. It’s Wyoming.”