National Roundup

Justice running for governor says he’ll vote on some cases

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court justice and Democratic gubernatorial candidate William O’Neill says he’ll continue to participate and vote on cases in which he was previously involved.

O’Neill sent the court a letter Friday announcing a “blanket notice” of recusal for all new cases to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The Dispatch reports the 70-year-old O’Neill says he’ll continue to be involved in 99 previous cases.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who cautioned O’Neill about his judicial duties after he announced his candidacy last week, will appoint judges from state appellate courts as needed to take O’Neill’s place. State Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican running for attorney general, has said O’Neill should resign.

O’Neill said he will step down from the bench by the Feb. 7 candidate filing deadline.

Protest sign case heads to State Supreme Court

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on whether a homeowner had the right to put up signs on her property criticizing a home contractor.

Justices have scheduled a hearing for Tuesday in the case of Milford resident Eileen Arisian, who in the fall of 2010 erected signs saying that she didn’t recommend the contractor and that the contractor was facing lawsuits.

The city’s zoning enforcement officer said the signs violated local regulations and ordered Arisian to take them down. When Arisian didn’t comply, the enforcement officer sued.

A lower court ruled last year that while the city had authority to regulate advertising signs, Arisian’s were not advertising signs. The city is appealing that ruling.

Arisian also says the signs are protected by free speech rights.

Man gets prison time for illegally harvesting eels

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A New York seafood dealer has been sentenced to 1 ½ years behind bars for illegally trafficking more than $150,000 worth of baby eels from Virginia.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that 42-year-old Tommy Zhou of Brooklyn was sentenced Friday in a federal Virginia court after he pleaded guilty in April.

Called elvers, baby eels are valuable because they are sold to Asian aquaculture companies so they can be raised to maturity and used as food. Fishermen sometimes sell them for more than $2,000 per pound at the dock. They can be legally harvested only in Maine and South Carolina, and the fishery is tightly regulated.

Prosecutors say Zhou obtained a Maine elver dealer license in 2013 and then used it to cover his illegal operation.

Zhou’s attorneys declined to comment.

New York
Weiner reports to prison for sexting sentence

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner reported to prison Monday to begin a 21-month sentence for sexting with a 15-year-old girl.

Weiner is being held at the Federal Medical Center Devens in Massachusetts, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said.

The facility in Ayer, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Boston, has over 1,000 inmates at the medical center and over 100 more at an adjacent minimum security satellite camp.

Weiner was sentenced in September by a judge who said the crime resulted from a “very strong compulsion.” At the time, a tearful Weiner said he was undergoing therapy and had been “a very sick man for a very long time.”

Amid a sexting controversy involving women, the New York Democrat resigned his U.S. House seat in 2011 only to have new allegations doom his 2013 run for mayor.

Last year, a criminal probe into his sexting with a high school student intruded into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. Then-FBI Director James Comey announced in late October 2016 that he was reopening the probe of Clinton’s use of a private computer server after emails between Clinton and Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin — formerly Clinton’s closest aide — were found on Weiner’s computer.

Two days before Election Day, the FBI declared there was nothing new in the emails. But in a recent interview, Clinton called Comey’s intervention “the determining factor” in her defeat.

Abedin and Weiner are in divorce proceedings.

At sentencing in Manhattan federal court, Weiner attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said his client likely exchanged thousands of messages with hundreds of women over the years and was communicating with up to 19 women when he encountered the teenager.

Jury selection begins for former execs at truck stop chain

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Jury selection is getting underway for the trial of four former executives of the truck stop chain owned by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The trial follows a 2013 raid by federal agents on the Knoxville headquarters of Pilot Flying J. Fourteen former members of the sales team pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to rip off trucking company customers they deemed too unsophisticated to realize they weren’t receiving the rebates they had negotiated. The company’s former president is among those facing trial Monday.

Pilot agreed to an $85 million settlement with most of the defrauded customers as well as a $92 million penalty to the government. The Haslam brothers have denied any prior knowledge.

Man accused of stealing, selling railroad bridge

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — He asked, they told him no, but he did it anyway, authorities say, accusing a scrap-metal dealer of taking apart an abandoned railroad bridge and selling the metal for $18,000.

Court records show Kenneth Morrison of Whiting was indicted last month on a federal charge of interstate transportation of stolen property. Morrison was operating as T&K Metals in 2014 when he allegedly dismantled the shuttered Monon Bridge, built in 1909 over the Grand Calumet River in Hammond.

Court records show Morrison had asked city officials multiple times since 1991 for permission to purchase and dismantle the bridge, but his requests were denied. He defended his actions in a 2015 interview, saying his removal of the structure saved the city money.