Chris is the regular news anchor on WQMX's Wynn and Wilson in the Morning and WONE's Tim and Christi in the Morning programs. He first opened a microphone at WZIP-FM at The University of Akron in 1990 but got his first paid radio job delivering weekend news on WZKL-FM & WDPN-AM in Alliance. Chris then moved to WJER AM & FM in Dover where he reported on Tuscarawas County, including stories that made national headlines. Chris has been honored by his peers with first place awards from the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters including Best Reporter, Best Feature Story, and Best Broadcast Writing among others. In addition to his work as a broadcast journalist Chris has also worked in public relations and as an instructor at the University of Akron teaching Broadcast News Writing. Chris enjoys volunteer work, and has served on the boards of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters, Public Relations Society of America (Akron Area Chapter), American Cancer Society Hope Gala Committee and currently serves on the Green Baseball/Softball Federation Board. Contact Chris through the newsroom 330-864-6397 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental health professionals in Summit County say progress is being made toward finding ways to properly handle criminals who have mental illness. They say too many are thrown in jail, where they are unlikely to receive proper treatment, but hospitalization is often not an option either.
"We have a pretty comprehensive mental health system, largely because of the support of Summit County voters who pass levies and allow us to have things like the ADM Crisis Center," said Dr. Mark Munetz with the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.
He says part of that "comprehensive system" includes cops who have undergone special training, so they can better identify and address people with mental illness.
"Those officers are dispatched and they're more effectively able to safely resolve the crisis, bring the person to treatment, less likely to take them to jail and less likely to leave them at the scene where the cycle may repeat," said Munetz.
Munetz says Summit County was the first county in Ohio to offer Crisis Intervention Training. There are now about 6,000 officers statewide with CIT.
A man convicted of robbing a fast food restaurant in Akron is getting another chance.
The 9th District Court of Appeals ruled that there really wasn't enough evidence to convict Robert Brown. He was sentenced to a 6-year prison term for robbing a EuroGyro at gunpoint.
A witness description didn't match Brown very well. His arrest was made on what police called a "relative match" to a database search ... in all, the appellate judges felt there was plenty of room for "reasonable doubt."
The case is going back to Summit County Common Pleas court for consideration.
Five people, including a Strongsville man, are named in a federal indictment for alleged mortgage fraud centered in Medina. They join two others who had already been charged, which include a builder from Parma.
The indictment accuses the builder, 60-year old Joseph Beccia of conspiring with 43-year old real estate salesman Thomas France of Strongsville and another man to use "straw buyers" to purchase six houses at prices highly inflated prices, including a house in Gates Mills. Several banks lost a total of about $7 million.
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Press Release from United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio:
A federal indictment was filed charging five people with taking part in a $4.1 million mortgage fraud scheme involvingsix luxury properties in Medina, Ohio, and one property in Gates Mills, Ohio, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
The seven-count indictment charges one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, one count of
conspiracy to commit bank fraud and five counts of bank fraud.
Those charged are: Thomas G. France, age 43, of Strongsville; Katen S. Pabley, a.k.a. Keith Pabley, age 40, of Shaker Heights; Su Chi Straka, age 37, of Parma; Lisa R. Nagle, age 42, of Houston, Texas; and, Ranjeet Pabley, age 67, of Lombard, Illinois.
Previously charged via information were Joseph Beccia, age 60, of Parma; and, Alex Blackmore, age 49, of Bronx, New York.
As part of the first mortgage fraud scheme, the indictment charges that from in or around May 2006 through on or about June 20, 2007, Beccia and his company, Horizon Construction, built six new, luxury properties in Medina. Although some of the properties were not fully completed, Beccia listed five of the six properties for sale at purchase prices that were equal to the true market value of each property, starting on or about May 13, 2005.
Specifically, Beccia listed the five properties for sale as follows: 2940 Sutton Lane, Medina for $599,000, on or about August 30, 2006; 4281 Fox Glen Drive, Medina for $395,000, on or about May 13, 2005; 4320 Perian Court, Medina for $399,000, on or about November 9, 2005; 3006 Sutton Lane, Medina for $529,500, on or about August 30, 2006; and, 4740 Lake Forest Trial, Medina for $925,000, on or about August 30, 2006.
Beccia incurred the cost of the construction of these homes without having known purchasers for these properties. Beccia was not able to sell these properties for an extended period of time and began to experience financial difficulties. Joseph Jones, an individual previously convicted in another mortgage fraud scheme, met Beccia through France, a real estate agent working in the area. France advised Beccia that Jones had a system by which Jones could sell these properties so that Beccia could pay off his debts on the properties, according to the indictment.
The indictment charges further that Jones and France explained to Beccia that Jones had individuals willing to have properties purchased in their names. Jones and France also advised Beccia that in order to make Jones’ system work the properties would need to be removed from the market and re-listed at significantly higher purchase prices. Finally, Jones and France advised Beccia that they would handle the interactions with the loan officers and securing the mortgage loans. All Beccia had to do was participate in the sale of the properties at the significantly inflated purchase prices and sign off on the loan documents as the seller, which Beccia agreed to do, according to the indictment.
The indictment also charges that Beccia advised Jones and France the amount of money he required from the sale of each the properties in order for him to repay the amounts he had borrowed to construct the homes. Then, Jones determined the additional amount of money he wanted to receive over and above the amount of money required to be distributed to Beccia after the sale of each property. Beccia and France prepared new purchase agreements for each of the six properties with the inflated purchase price necessary to satisfy the amounts of money required. After the newly inflated purchase agreements were created, the purchase agreements were provided to Straka and Nagel, knowing that they would provide appraisal reports to support the inflated purchase prices, according to the indictment.
Jones enlisted K. Pabley and Blackmore to be straw buyers/investors of Beccia’s properties. Jones advised K. Pabley and Blackmore that if they would agree to allow these luxury homes to be purchased in their names, they would not have to provide any down payment funds because Jones would provide the down payment, and Jones would provide K. Pabley and Blackmore with a significant amount of cash back after the closing of each property for allowing their names to be used as the purchasers. K.Pabley’s credit could not support the purchase of the luxury properties, so K.Pabley recruited R.Pabley, his mother, to serve as the straw buyer/investor. Both R.Pabley, at the direction of K.Pabley, and Blackmore signed the loan documents containing false information in order for them to qualify to purchase the properties, according to the indictment.
The indictment charges that France re-listed five of the six properties for sale at the inflated purchase prices determined by Beccia and Jones as follows: 2940 Sutton Lane, Medina from $599,000 to $950,000; 4281 Fox Glen Drive, Medina from $395,000 to $647,000; 4320 Perian Court, Medina from $399,000 to $650,000; 3006 Sutton Lane, Medina from $529,500 to $920,000; and, 4740 Lake Forest Trial, Medina from $925,000 to $1,400,000.
Finally, the indictment charges that Jones enlisted the services of Marilyn Mannarino, an individual previously convicted in another mortgage fraud scheme, and Tower City Title on all six of Beccia’s properties. Tower City prepared the HUD-1s to make it appear to the financial institutions and mortgage lenders that R.Pabley and Blackmore provided the down payments from their own personal funds, when in fact Jones provided the down payments. Beccia, R.Pabley, and Blackmore signed the HUD-1s knowing that R.Pabley and Blackmore had not provided the down payments from their own personal funds.
Each of the properties for which defendants secured a mortgage loan went into foreclosure, resulting in a total loss of approximately $3,327,333, with Flagstar Bank incurring a loss of approximately $1,053,000, Lehman Brothers Bank incurring a loss of approximately $752,500, J.P. Morgan Chase incurring a loss of approximately $422,000, Suntrust Mortgage, Inc. incurring a loss of approximately $420,833, and American Brokers Conduit, a division of American Home Mortgage, Inc. incurring a loss of approximately $679,000, according to the indictment.
In the second mortgage fraud scheme, the indictment charges Jones and K.Pabley of conspiring with D.C., owner of Perl Building Corporation, to fraudulent purchase the property located at 1924 Epping Road, Gates Miles, Ohio, in R.Pabley’s name. Similar to Beccia, Jones identified D.C. as a builder in financial trouble and contacted D.C. with an offer to purchase the Epping Road property that D.C. had not been able to sell. Jones explained that he had an individual willing to purchase the property, but that in order to make the transaction work they would need to inflate the purchase price of the property significantly over the fair market value of the property so that Jones could obtain the excess funds from the inflated purchase price. Just as Jones had done with Beccia, Jones advised D.C. that he would handle all the aspects of the transaction. All D.C. had to be willing to do was sign the HUD-1 containing the inflated purchase price, which D.C. agreed to do, according to the indictment.
Again, K.Pabley’s credit score would not support the purchase of the property, so he recruited R.Pabley to have the property purchased in her name. And, again, Jones enlisted the services of Mannarino and Tower City Title to prepare the HUD-1 and handle the closing. The loan application and HUD-1 were falsified in a similar manner as those in the Medina scheme and those involved in the Epping property signed the loan documents knowing they contained false information in order to induce the lender, Washington Mutual, to approve and fund the loan. The Epping Road property, also, went into foreclosure creating a loss to Washington Mutual of approximately $807,000, according to the indictment.
If convicted, defendants’ sentences will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including defendants’ prior criminal records, if any, each defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark S. Bennett, following an investigation by the Cleveland Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the United States Secret Service. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The U.S. Supreme Court opinions regarding gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act are more than just legal opinions. They also contribute to gay acceptance from a social perspective.
"It's a great step in the right direction to guaranteeing our equality and when you feel equal and you feel cherished, it's only going to have a positive response for people," said Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Center Executive Director Rebecca Callahan.
Callahan believes there could be a relationship between a higher acceptance of gay people and lower incidents of bullying, depression or overall opposition to gay or lesbian couples and individuals. She says the opinions of the high court don't solve those problems, but could help to chip away at them.
She says the rulings may also prompt more support to overturn Ohio's ban on same sex marriage because they "highlight the unfairness among states that have same-sex marriage bans." Callahan is hoping that Ohioans will take action to recognize same-sex marriage as early as 2014.
The US Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act is seen as a victory for gay rights supporters. While it does grant legally married gay couples federal benefits, it does not mandate that individual states recognize gay marriage.
"You can see how that would seem to support the position that the state of Louisiana or the state of Idaho can choose not to recognize gay marriages - that's their choice - or the state of Ohio," said University of Akron School of Law Professor Will Huhn.
However, Huhn says that the high court's opinion may prompt individual states to think twice about ignoring gay marriage.
"The pressure is on the states, in that sense, that they had better articulate some reason other than 'We don't like these people' for denying the right to marriage."
Huhn says the ruling probably has more monetary benefit to gay couples, rather than a moral one. The opinion allows legally married gay couples the right to social security survivorship benefits as well as military and tax benefits. He says gay couples may move to states that will recognize their marriage, which would take money away from states, like Ohio, that do not.
Police in North Canton are investigating an armed robbery at Radio Shack on N. Main Street. It happened Tuesday around 6:00 P.M. when a man showed an employee a handgun as he demanded money from the cash register.
He ran out of the store with an undisclosed amount of cash, along with a woman who was also in the store. Both were seen earlier at the BP station at the other end of the plaza. The robber is described as a black male in his 20's, but his looks are distinct because of some tattoos near both eyes. More complete descriptions released by police:
"The subject was described as a Black Male in his 20’s, approximately 5’07”- 5’10” tall, 180lbs wearing dark blue jeans, a long white t-shirt and a black baseball cap with a red brim. He is also described as having small tattoos on his face near both eyes.
A female was also in the store and left with the above subject. She is described as a black female, late teens to early 20’s, approximately 5’05 tall, 150lbs wearing blue jeans with decorative rear pockets, a blue coat with the hood up and a pink bandanna over her hair."
The threat of widespread damaging winds has prompted FirstEnergy to put plans in place in case there are major power outages.
"We have company wide conference calls where we start looking at all the different resources that might be available," said FirstEnergy Spokesman Mark Durbin. "Those would include our line workers, our workers who deal with hazards, workers who deal with forestry issues."
Durbin says there are advantages to being such a large company - FirstEnergy has 10 utilities in six states. It allows the company to relatively easily shift workers from one region to another, depending on which locations need the most help.
You may be surprised to know that FirstEnergy wants you to call and report any outage, even if you believe everyone else in your neighborhood already did it. Durbin says some people make that assumption and that leaves FirstEnergy ... well, in the dark.
Durbin says that people should never touch downed power lines. In addition, he recommends all the typical things that anybody from an emergency management agency recommends that you have handy every day: batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food that does not need to be cooked, a radio, a flashlight and other essentials.
We've been hearing all day about an anticipated storm moving toward Ohio that could include a "derecho."
What the heck is a derecho and will it impact the Akron area? We can define derecho, but, like most weather systems, precise time and level of impact involve a lot of guessing.
First, the National Weather Service describes a derecho as straight-line winds that are about 60 miles per hour - plenty strong enough to do some damage. The difference between the derecho and heavy winds that are associated with many severe thunderstorms is that they are widespread, not isolated. In fact, derecho winds are what knocked out power to tens of thousands in a region that included central Ohio, but stretched west to Illinois and east to Washington, D.C.. last year.
"Some of the more severe thunderstorms could be off to the Findlay and Mansfield areas and then Akron and Canton would be right on the edge," said Frank Kieltyka with the National Weather Service.
Whether we experience a derecho or not, Kieltyka says up to 1.5 inches of rain is possible.
A Flood Watch is in effect tonight at 10:00 until Thursday at 5:00 P.M.
An Akron man serving prison time following a mortgage and securities fraud scandal thought he was going to get a break - and it was looking that way, until today. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that David Willan's original prison sentence needs to be reinstated.
Willan was convicted of nearly 70 criminal counts in 2008. Part of his sentence included what was deemed to be a mandatory 10-year prison term. The 9th District Court of Appeals reversed all convictions except one, which resulted in most of the prison term being thrown out with them, including the decade the Willan was to spend on a count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt behavior. The Ohio Supreme Court did not accept Willan's appeal request on the remaining conviction, but did accept the state's request to appeal the decision from the 9th District. The justices reversed the latest ruling, saying that Willan's original conviction stands.
Much of the debate centered around the way the sentencing portion of that particular law was written, but the 4-3 majority did not find it to be ambiguous.
One of the dissenting opinions was written by Justice Paul Pfeifer:
I join Justice Lanzinger's well-reasoned dissent, but write separately to highlight the General Assembly's failure in legislative drafting exemplified by former R.C. 2929.14(D)(3), which the majority opinion relegates to a footnote to fully accommodate its 24 lines of unrelenting abstruseness consisting, remarkably, of the sum total of 307 words and a mere one period, a punctuation mark set out as a lone sentinel facing odds similar to that of the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, a battle that occurred over the course of three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece, and is estimated by historians to have occurred in either August or September, or perhaps both, in 480 B.C., pitting an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, against the Persian Empire of Xerxes I, bravely standing before the onslaught of invaders but ultimately unable to stanch the unrelenting tide of the overpowering hordes of words and statutory numbers including R.C. 2903.01, 2907.02, 2903.2, 2925.04, 2925.11, 2025.02, 2025.06, 2925.36, 3719.07, 3719.08, 3719.16, 3719.161, 4729.37, 4729.61, 3719.172, 4729.51, 2941.1410, 2929.20, without so much as a helping hand from a single, solitary semicolon, colon, or parenthesis, other than the parentheses surrounding the capital letters denoting the divisions of statutory sections that are sprinkled throughout the statute, a statute that purports to inform the citizenry of the potential penalty for certain enumerated criminal acts, but by cramming so many words about sentencing into one sentence, sentences itself to uselessness, especially in the case of an offender involved in a patter of corrupt activity, regarding which R.C. 2929.14(D)(3) surprisingly is completely without specificity, in that it fails to cite a statuatory section outlining what constitutes corrupt activity when it otherwise lists specific statuatory sections relating to all the other offenses to which it applies, a statuatory circumstance up with which we should not put.
In case you are wondering, his single sentence opinion (which does not contain colons or semicolons) contains 306 words. Perhaps Pfeifer wrote this tongue-in-cheek to further drive home his point?
(Editor's note: This story was modified June 7th at 12:35 P.M. at Dr. Cheng's request. Specifically, the name of the company he is visiting was deleted. While his original disclosure was intentional, Cheng now believes it was premature and could result in the denial of funding for a project that not only satisfies scientists, but also includes job creation)
The destruction caused by earthquakes could be much less significant if there was a way to add a little flexibility in buildings. That's exactly what University of Akron College of Polymer Science and Polymer Research Dean Dr. Stephen Cheng wants to do.
Cheng is in Texas this week making a pitch to officials at a major corporation that has a proven interest in various natural and synthetic resources, as he looks for help funding a thermoplastic elastomer research center in Akron. While the concept is not only established, but actually being used, Cheng says there is not much going on with the idea around here. In fact, Akron would immediately become the leader, at least in this part of the world.
"There is nobody in the world that have had any research center in this area (discipline)," said Cheng. "We will be the first one if we can succeed."
Cheng is quick to point out that polymers and rubber are not the same, but in the most basic terms, thermoplastic elastomers represent a blend of rubber and plastic. The key - which Cheng believes can be found through laboratory research - is to create the right blend that can be used to create flexible construction products without sacrificing durability.
Cheng says this branch of research represents a new focus area in his college. He says that it may not be as glamorous as the use of polymers in high-tech, retail-friendly products, but it's important for scientists to also focus on practical applications that have a direct impact on the health, safety and happiness of people.
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