National Roundup

Firm to pay up after making workers clock out for bathroom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania company that publishes business newsletters will pay about $1.75 million to thousands of employees who had to clock out while going on short breaks, including for the bathroom.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a federal judge has given the U.S. Department of Labor and the Malvern-based company, American Future Systems Inc., until Thursday to submit proposals on managing payment.

The company had argued that it wasn’t required to pay employees for short breaks.

The bill includes back pay and damages to 6,000 employees at offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio between 2009 and 2013.

The Department of Labor filed a lawsuit in 2012 claiming the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act because employees weren’t earning minimum wage when the company required them to clock out for breaks.

Councilman can’t take office because of ‘93 drug conviction

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (AP) — A newly elected city councilman in Pennsylvania has been barred from taking office because of a drug conviction from 23 years ago.

McKeesport Councilman-elect Corey Sanders pleaded no contest to two felony drug counts in 1993 and was sentenced to four years in prison. The Democrat was prevented from being sworn in with colleagues on Monday night.

Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Francis McCarthy said in a letter to McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko that Sanders will need a full pardon from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to be able to hold public office.

There were questions during the race about whether Sanders should be left off the ballot.

Community members say Sanders has turned his life around and mentored young men to stay out of trouble.

New York
Stepdaughter of AG briefly held over taxi fare

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s stepdaughter was briefly detained at a police station after an argument with an Uber taxi driver over an unpaid fare, police said Monday.

Kia Absalom, 21, was riding in the car on Dec. 28. She believed her fare was automatically paid through the Uber ride-hailing app, as is the practice with most of the cars available on Uber, police said.

But the driver was signed up for the UberT service, through which riders can pay with cash or credit cards but not through the app.

“I asked her to pay me,” taxi driver Hassan Almaweri told the Daily News. “She said, ‘No, I paid by the app.’”

The two argued over the fare, and he drove her to a Brooklyn police station.

After it was determined she owed him about $20, she said she had no cash or credit cards on her, police said. She was detained for about a half-hour in a cell while her boyfriend came to pay the fare, they said. After she paid, she was released, and police said her arrest number was voided.

She was not fingerprinted or booked, police said.

Messages left with the attorney general’s office and Absalom weren’t immediately returned Monday. San Francisco-based Uber declined to comment.

Police said they were reviewing what happened.

Settlement reached in sex-for-repairs case

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Housing Authority of Baltimore City has reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit that accused maintenance men of demanding sex from at least 19 women before making repairs.

Baltimore housing chief Paul T. Graziano, and Cary J. Hansel, a lawyer representing the women, confirmed Monday that they reached an agreement for an undisclosed amount of money. It’s pending approval by the court and the U .S. Department of Housing.

Settlement talks were held Dec. 14 and Dec. 22. Hansel and Graziano declined further comment.

Attorneys for the women say they were denied basic repairs in public housing units because they refused to have sex with handymen.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie says a criminal investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Men sue diocese, saying it hid sex abuse by priest

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Six men have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, claiming church leaders concealed allegations that a priest sexually abused children for decades.

The suits were filed in November by men from Maine, New Hampshire and New York and were made public this week. They accuse the diocese of covering up abuse by the Rev. James Vallely. The men say Vallely sexually abused them as children from 1958 to 1977.

Their lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said Tuesday that the suits claim the church “fraudulently concealed” Vallely's abuse.

The concealment claim opens the way to sue even though the statute of limitations for sexual abuse has expired.

A diocesan spokesman couldn’t comment on a pending lawsuit. The diocese’s lawyer got the complaint Tuesday and couldn't immediately comment.
Vallely died in 1997.

Man arrested for damaging mosque with a machete 

TITUSVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A man accused of vandalizing a mosque along Florida’s Space Coast, with lights and windows smashed by a machete and bacon left at the scene, has been arrested.

Officers in the city of Titusville say 35-year-old Michael Scott Wolfe was taken into custody Monday. Online jail records show he’s charged with criminal mischief of a religious building.

Authorities say the suspect went to the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque Jan. 1.

Surveillance video shows the suspect entering the mosque’s carport late at night when no one was there and using a machete to smash cameras, lights and windows.

Police say the bacon was left by the front door. Consumption of pork and products made from pork is forbidden in Islam.
Wolfe remains behind bars. It isn’t clear if he has an attorney.