Edward L. Esposito

Edward L. Esposito

Edward "Ed" Esposito is vice-president, information media for the Rubber City Radio Group. He oversees news and public affairs programs for www.AkronNewsNow.com, 1590 WAKR, 97.5 WONE and 94.9 WQMX. He is Secretary-Treasurer of the Radio Television Digital News Foundation; a former chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association and Foundation and a former president of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Association. He's also served as a member of the Akron Press Club , Kent State University Student Media Advisory Board, Ohio Open Government Coalition, Northeast Ohio AMBER Task Force. He's lectured on broadcasting and journalism for the University of Missouri in China, as well as across the country for RTDNA and RTDNF. You can reach Ed through the newsroom at 330-864-6397 or by email eesposito@rcrg.net

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 17:54

Cops Seeking Double Murder Suspect

Akron police say a 19-year old man is considered "armed and extremely dangerous" and they want him in connection with the twin murders of a pair of men early Wednesday morning on South Rose Boulevard.

Robert Pitts, Jr. is wanted for aggravated murder; the two victims, one 53 years old and the other 20 years old, were found stabbed to death by Akron police who entered the apartment shortly before two o'clock in the morning. ID's have not been released pending notification of relatives.

Police say witnesses put Pitts as a resident of South Rose the last couple weeks. A 2006 Jeep Liberty belonging to one of the victims was found in Ashtabula Wednesday.

Previous AkronNewsNow coverage: Akron Police Investigating Double Homicide

- - -

(Akron PD) Aggravated Murder warrants were signed for Robert Pitts Jr., black male, 19 years old, 5’10” and weighs about 215 lbs. 

Shortly before 2:00am this morning, officers responded to an apartment on South Rose Boulevard to check the welfare of the residents. When officers arrived, they entered through an unlocked door. Officers found two males, a 53 year old and a 20 year old, both with fatal stab wounds. According to witnesses, Robert Pitts Jr., has resided on South Rose Boulevard for the last couple of weeks.

The 2006 Jeep Liberty with Ohio license plate of FID-1963 was located in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Robert Pitts Jr. (seen at left; photo Akron Police Department) should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau at (330) 375-2490; the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-866-4-WANTED; the Summit County Crimestoppers, Inc. at (330) 434-COPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

The victim’s names are being withheld pending family notifications.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:24

Pry Declares Flood Emergency

First the floods, then the damages and now an official declaration of emergency from Summit County Executive Russ Pry in the aftermath of the flooding torrent a week ago today.

Pry's emergency declaration will help make the case for help but it's not a guarantee. State representatives were meeting with officials in Barberton today to go over damages there, including to businesses such as the flooded Fred Martin car lot at Barber Road and I-76.

Pry urges those with flooding issues, especially property owners with uninsured losses, to document their cases with the Summit County Emergency Management Agency so they can present a full picture to state and federal emergency officials. Cases will be included in the County's report to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. Citizens requiring more information can call the County's Communication Department director Jill Skapin at (330) 643-2627.

 

 

An Akron man found guilty of a slew of charges for lying in wait for his victim, beating her before she was able to dial 9-1-1. Cops showed up even though Hermaine Powell grabbed the phone from a woman acquaintaince and hung up.

He tried to hop a fence but police were able to catch up. A sentencing date has not been set.

-------

(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that late yesterday a jury found Hermaine D. Powell, 38, of Akron, guilty of Aggravated Burglary, a felony of the first degree; Felonious Assault, a felony of the second degree; and Disrupting Public Services, a felony of the fourth degree.

On April 6, Powell was waiting for a female acquaintance when she arrived home. He dragged the woman from her car by her hair and hit, punched and kicked her. Powell then dragged the woman into her apartment, where he continued to beat her and ripped out a large chunk of her hair. The woman called 911, but Powell grabbed the phone and hung up.

When police arrived, Powell ran from the apartment. He was captured attempting to climb a fence. No sentencing date has been set.
 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 12:56

Stow Company Cited By OSHA

A Stow company has been cited for workplace safety violations aimed at noise -- and worker hearing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends fines that total over $131 thousand dollars against Specialty Metals Processing. The company was cited for similar violations in 2012.

Specialty Metals has 15 days to answer the OSHA filing.

- - -

(OSHA news release) Specialty Metals Processing Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration with five violations at its machine tool manufacturing plant in Stow. The violations include three failure-to-abate citations for not administering an effective hearing conservation program and implementing procedures to control hazardous energy. OSHA initiated its follow-up inspection in January. Proposed fines total $131,320.

“Specialty Metals Processing has a responsibility to protect its workers by ensuring they are enrolled in a hearing conservation program. It also must train them concerning energy control procedures to prevent injuries from the unintentional operation of machinery,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Employers who are cited for repeat and failure-to-abate citations demonstrate a lack of commitment to worker safety and health.”

The inspection found that the company failed to abate three previously cited violations. In February 2012, the company failed to administer a continuing hearing conservation program for workers exposed to noise exceeding the time-weighted average for eight hours. In May 2012, the company failed to develop adequate energy control procedures and  conduct periodic inspections to ensure workers followed those procedures correctly. Additionally, the company did not provide OSHA with the required abatement documentation for the three citations.

Two repeat violations were cited for failing to train workers on the purpose and use of energy control procedures and  not training them on the general principles of fire extinguisher use upon initial employment and annually thereafter. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in February 2012.

The current citations may be viewed at www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Speciality-Metals_98679_837233._0712_13.PDF

Specialty Metals Processing Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 21:12

Three Indicted In Ashland Slavery Case

A federal grand jury has indicted three people in a case that made national headlines, charging them with labor trafficking for holding a disabled woman and her child against their women, forcing the woman to perform chores for them. The charges included details from investigators that the woman and her child were often threatened with dogs and even snakes.

Federal prosecutors say Jordie Callahan, 26; Jessica Hunt, 31 and Dezerah Silsby, 21, all of Ashland, used threats of violence, sexual assault and humiliation to "continue a pattern of domination and control" over the victims. A fourth person, Daniel Brown, 33, also of Ashland, was charged under a criminal information that usually indicates a guilty plea was pre-arranged.

The federal indictment contains troubled details FBI agents and prosecutors have already revealed, including demands for sexual favors and even the forced videotaping of alleged child abuse to keep the victim under control of those indicted.

A copy of the indictment in included in .pdf file on this page under the download section.

- - -

(U.S. Department of Justice) A five-count indictment was filed charging three people from Ashland, Ohio, with engaging in a labor trafficking conspiracy and related crimes for holding a woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor for them, law enforcement officials said today.

According to the indictment, Jordie L. Callahan, 26, Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Dezerah L. Silsby, 21, used a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation and monitoring to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over their victims, identified only as S.E. and her child B.E. A fourth person, Daniel K. Brown, 33, of Ashland, was charged in a criminal information filed today with one count of conspiracy.

The conspiracy between Callahan, Hunt, Silsby and Brown took place between August 2010 and October 2012. The object of the conspiracy included holding S.E. in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude; obtaining S.E.’s and B.E.’s public assistance benefits; and intentionally causing painful injuries to S.E. so they could use the narcotic pain medications she was prescribed.

According to court documents, the defendants’ tactics included beating S.E., threats of beatings to S.E. and B.E., taunting and threatening the victims with pit bulls and snakes, causing the victims to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, restricting S.E. and B.E.’s access to the bathroom, preventing them from eating regular and suitable meals and forcing S.E. to eat dog food and crawl on the floor while wearing a dog collar.

Callahan and Hunt recruited S.E. and B.E. to live with them in their two-bedroom apartment in Ashland, knowing that S.E. has a cognitive disability and that S.E. and B.E. received monthly public assistance payments.

According to the indictment, in or around September 2010, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to have her and B.E.’s public assistance benefits issued on a debit card rather than paper check. They then took control of the card, forced S.E. to give them the PIN and used the card for their own benefit and the benefit of their family and friends.

On multiple occasions between August 2010 and October 2012, Callahan and Hunt threatened S.E. and B.E. with serious physical harm, including death, if S.E. did not clean up the apartment, care for their numerous pit bull dogs, snakes and other reptiles, purchase items at the store and perform other labor and services. On one occasion, Callahan pointed a firearm at S.E.’s head and threatened to kill her if she did not perform the labor and services he and other conspirators commanded. Callahan also forced S.E. on multiple occasions to engage in sex acts with him and threatened that he and Hunt would kill S.E. if she told anyone about the forced sexual acts .

In August 2011, Silsby, at the direction of Callahan and Hunt, smashed S.E.’s hand with a rock with such force that S.E. needed to go to the hospital emergency room. In December 2011, Callahan and Hunt injured S.E.’s back with such force that she needed medical treatment. In March 2012, Callahan kicked S.E. in the hip with such force that she needed medical treatment. After each incident, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescriptions for the medication as stated in the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt used a video camera to monitor S.E. and B.E.’s activities and conversations in the apartment. They often forced S.E. to walk to the store to buy groceries, cigarettes, dog food and other items for Callahan, Hunt and Hunt’s four sons and to pay for these purchases with her public assistance card. They allotted S.E. only a brief time period to complete the shopping and warned her that she was not allowed to speak with anyone while she was out. They frequently required B.E. to remain with them at the apartment while S.E. was out and threatened physical harm to B.E. and S.E. if S.E. broke any of their rules.

The indictment also states that Callahan and Hunt threatened to contact Ashland County Job and Family Services and have B.E. taken away if S.E. purchased any items at the store other than those they ordered or if she told anyone about their unlawful conduct.

In June 2011, after S.E. and B.E. had attempted to flee the apartment, Callahan and Hunt ordered Brown and Silsby to find S.E. and B.E. and bring them back to the apartment. Brown and Silsby lured S.E. and B.E. into their vehicle by promising to take them to Dairy Queen, only to drive them afterwards back to the apartment.

On multiple occasions, Callahan and Brown locked S.E. and B.E. in a room with a window that was nailed shut and a door that had been locked from the outside according to court documents.

As stated in the indictment, in October 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to hit her child while they recorded a video, and threatened to inflict much greater physical harm on both S.E. and B.E. if S.E. did not comply. One month later, Callahan and Hunt again forced S.E. to strike B.E. while they captured a video recording of the staged incident on Callahan’s cell phone. Callahan and Hunt repeatedly threatened have B.E. taken away by showing the videos to authorities in order to secure S.E.’s compliance to the conspirators’ commands.

Callahan, Hunt and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy; forced labor; theft of government benefits; and acquiring a controlled substance by deception. Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz and Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 16:48

Akron Cops Looking For Suspected Shooter

Akron police have issued an arrested warrant for a 29-year old man in connection with one of a pair of shootings today.

In the first incident, two men were shot at while leaving a business on 13th Street SW at Clearview. Stephon Allen, 20, was hit in the leg and treated at Akron General. His injuries do not appear to be life threatening, according to police. The second man, Cedric Weatherspoon Jr., 20, was not hit in the drive by shooting.

Police say two men were in a silver LTZ Chevy Impala with Florida plates and fired the shots at the two men. Police are looking for Thomas Blankenship, 29, of Lakemont Street as one of the suspects.

In the second incident, shots were fired in the Cole Avenue and Moore Street area and several homes were hit by bullets. No one was injured.

- - -

(APD) Shortly before 11:00am this morning, officers responded to a shooting in the 800 block of Lakewood Boulevard.

Officers located two males, Stephon Allen, 20, of Rentar Lane and Cedric Weatherspoon Jr., 20, of Greenwood Avenue. Allen and Weatherspoon reported they were leaving a business, on 13th Street SW at Clearview Avenue, when two black male in a silver LTZ Chevy Impala with Florida plates fired several shots at them.

Allen was struck in the leg several times and was transported to Akron General Medical Center where his injuries do not appear to be life threatening.  Weatherspoon was not struck.

One suspect has been identified, and warrants for felonious assault, carrying a concealed weapon and having weapons while under disability were issued.

Detectives need the public’s help in locating Thomas M. Blankenship, 29, of Lakemont Street in Akron. Blankenship is a black male, 5’11” and 155 lbs. He should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. The second suspect has not been identified.

Also today, shortly before noon, officers responded to several shots fired calls in the area of Cole Avenue and Moore Street. Several homes in the 1300 block of Moore Street were struck. No injuries were reported. The suspects were possibly in a black, 2013 Dodge Dart.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 15:55

VIDEO Slugging RTA Driver Pleads Guilty

Remember the Cleveland RTA bus driver who punched out a rider caught on video? Artis Hughes changed his plea to guilty, even with wide support when viewers saw the altercation start with the woman who started the fight with him, grabbed his neck and spit in his face.

It cost him his job; now he'll likely spend a few days in jail for the punch in addition to paying a $1,000 fine and agreeing to take part in an anger management program.. The driver's union is still trying to get his job back.

New video shows Hughes, a 59-year old veteran driver, attacked by Shi'dea Lane, 25, starting the fight. She's already pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct charges and will be sentenced later this month.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 11:42

KSU Beats Geno In Court

A big win for Kent State's basketball program -- and they didn't even need to tipoff at the MAC Center to do it. Portage County Judge John Enlow siding with KSU in it's lawsuit against former head coach Geno Ford for breach of contract after he skipped out on a contract with Kent to go to Bradley University.

The ruling awarded the University $1.2 million dollars. Kent State is still pursuing it's lawsuit against Bradley, with that trial scheduled for October.

- - -

(Kent State University, Attorney General's Office) A Portage County judge has awarded Kent State University $1.2 million after its former head men’s basketball coach breached his contract by leaving to become the head coach at Bradley University, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the university announced today.

“Ohio’s public colleges and universities have a duty to students and taxpayers to be wise stewards of tuition and taxpayer moneys,” Attorney General DeWine said. “When coaches and high-profile employees leave public universities in breach of their contracts, the state of Ohio has an obligation to seek the compensation to which it is entitled. I am pleased that the Court has awarded the damages due to Kent State."

On July 12, Portage County Common Pleas Judge John A. Enlow granted Attorney General DeWine’s and Kent State’s request for judgment against former men’s basketball coach Gene A. Ford for breach of his employment contract and damages in the amount of $1.2 million to Kent State. Pursuant to the court order, Ford will pay Kent State the $1.2 million in damages as calculated in the liquidated damages provision in his employment contract with Kent State. The liquidated damages provision stated that if Ford resigned or terminated his employment with Kent State, the university would be entitled to liquidated damages totaling the balance of Ford’s annual salary due for the remaining amount of his contract term.

In April 2008, Kent State hired Ford as their head men’s basketball coach for a five (5) year term at an annual salary of $200,000. In April 2010, Kent State and Ford agreed to a new contract extending his employment through the end of the 2014-2015 season and increasing Ford’s annual salary to $300,000, making Ford the highest-paid basketball coach in the Mid-American Conference. In March 2011, Ford agreed to become the head basketball coach for Bradley University, located in Peoria, Illinois, in breach of the terms of his employment contract with Kent State.

Kent State filed suit against Ford and Bradley University on April 26, 2011. Kent State continues to pursue claims against Bradley University for its tortious interference with Kent State’s contractual relationship with Coach Ford. The case against Bradley University is set for trial on October 7, 2013.

The Akron law firm Roderick Linton Belfance, LLP was appointed by the Ohio Attorney General as special counsel to represent Kent State in the cases against Coach Ford and Bradley University.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 08:02

Akron General Gets Ranking Nod

Akron General is doing some chest-thumping with the latest listings of Best Hospitals in America as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

The hospital ranks on the top of the list in Summit County and fifth best in Ohio, up from seventh a year ago.

"It's not just the fact that your doing the work because we are always doing the work well, but it's how you do the work and how the patient perceives the work you do," said Thomas L. “Tim” Stover, president and CEO of Akron General Health System.

Akron General was also honored as “High-Performing” in 10 medical specialties including the addition of the cancer speciality from the care provided at the hospital's McDowell Cancer Center.

Stover said he's looking forward to the his next goal to surpass the current accomplishments set in this year's report.

"We have a whole group of people that have the same goals, so when you get that happening, it's pretty amazing to watch it."

- - -

 

(Akron General) Once again, Akron General Medical Center has been named to the prestigious list of hospitals - - -honored as the best in America by U.S. News and World Report in their annual listing of Best Hospitals 2013-14. Akron General was nationally ranked (39) in otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat – ENT) and in pulmonology (43). In addition, Akron General was named as the 5th best hospital in Ohio, up from 7th in 2012. Akron General also maintained its claim as the best hospital in Summit County.

 

Akron General was also honored by U.S. News and World Report as “High-Performing” in 10 medical specialties: Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, and Urology. The quality of the cancer care provided at Akron General’s McDowell Cancer Center lead to the addition of the cancer specialty to Akron General’s “High-Performing” rankings this year.

 

"We are honored to be included again this year in this most impressive list of America’s Best Hospitals,” says Thomas L. “Tim” Stover, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Akron General Health System. “These rankings are indicative of the superb, high-quality care provided by our dedicated physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and our entire staff every day. They have my sincere gratitude for making Akron General the premier provider of outstanding healthcare in our area.” 

 

On the nationally ranked list, Akron General garnered strong gains from last year. Akron General improved this year with the addition of pulmonary care to the nationally ranked list (43). 

 

"The designation as being among the best in the nation for pulmonary care is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Akron General pulmonary team," says Timothy C. Murray, MD, Chief of Pulmonary Services at Akron General. "We are pleased to receive this high recognition."

 

Akron General also moved up in its national ranking in otolaryngology, up to 39th from 49. 

 

"It is quite an honor to be listed as among the best in the nation in the field of otolaryngology,” says Bruce M. Sterman, MD, Chief of Otolaryngology at Akron General. "We're pleased to be ranking nationally again this year." 


In addition to treating conditions of the ears, nose and throat, the Akron General program overseen by Dr. Sterman provides treatment for head and neck cancers. 

 

Akron General’s commitment to wellness is the lead subject in a major feature article in U.S. News & World Report. 

Monday, 15 July 2013 16:41

Wife Killed In Domestic Violence Crash

Domestic violence charges against an Akron man could see an upgrade after his actions led to her death in a weekend auto crash.
 
26-year old Kyndall Tucker was taken by her husband, 28-years old Robert Tucker the third, from a 2nd Street SW Kenmore (corrects earlier version address) home owned by her relatives and forced her into his car at gunpoint. He punched her, drove off with her in the front seat then crashed into a tree later on Manchester Road. He was able to flee on foot but not before punching his wife in the head several more times, according to witnesses. They were able to identify him as he was standing in a crowd of bystanders at the accident scene Saturday night.
 
She died Sunday at Akron General; an autopsy will determine the cause of death.
 
- - -
 
(Akron PD) Around 11:00pm Saturday night, Robert H. Tucker III, 28, of Baird Street in Akron, was charged with kidnapping, aggravated burglary, domestic violence and weapons under disability.
 
Tucker went over to his wife’s relative’s house, located on 2nd Street SW, where his wife was visiting and demanded that she leave with him.  Tucker then entered the relatives’ home, armed with a handgun, and pulled his wife out by her hair.  Tucker punched her in the face several times and tried to force her into the trunk of his car, a 2013 Ford Taurus.  Tucker was eventually able to get his wife in the front seat and drove off.  Tucker drove his vehicle into a tree in the 1600 block of Manchester Road, where he then jumped out of the car and fled on foot.  Before fleeing the vehicle Tucker punched her in the head several times. Tucker’s wife was critically injured.
 
When responding officers arrived on Manchester Road, Tucker was identified by witnesses as standing in the crowd of bystanders.  Tucker was taken into custody, charged and booked into the Summit County Jail. 
 
Tucker’s wife, Kyndall D. Tucker, 26, of 2nd Street in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, was transported to Akron General Medical Center where she was pronounced dead on Sunday, July 14, at 11:20am. 
 
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s will conduct an autopsy. Additional charges are expected.