Plea deal in Ohio fraud case linked to Miami Heat
Written by ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 16:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio man accused of operating multimillion-dollar frauds that include allegations he cheated Miami Heat basketball players of millions of dollars indicated Tuesday that he'll plead guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion charges.

A 135-count indictment filed this year describes a scheme under which Haider Zafar allegedly swindled a Washington, D.C., businessman out of $10 million between 2008 and 2010.

A witness who testified against Zafar in August alleged Zafar also defrauded Heat players, including former forward Mike Miller. The witness, international investment attorney Andrew Fine, said the players and other Florida residents invested $8 million with Zafar.

The players weren't mentioned in the criminal complaint, but Zafar's plea deal includes his willingness to resolve a possible federal investigation in Florida. Zafar wants to tie up all loose ends in the cases against him, Zafar's attorney, Sam Shamansky, said Tuesday.

U.S. consumer confidence rises on better job outlook
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 11:38

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers' confidence in the economy rose this month on a better outlook for hiring and growth.

The Conference Board says its index of consumer confidence rose to 78.1 in December, up from 72 in the previous month. November's figure was revised up from 70.4. The December increase followed three months of declines.

Americans expressed more confidence that steady job gains would continue.

Consumers' confidence is closely watched because their spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Gallagher joining in SW Indiana watermelon drop
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 10:28

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — The watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher is set to entertain the New Year's Eve crowd in a southwestern Indiana city just before it rings in 2014 with a 14-melon drop.

Organizers of the Vincennes Watermelon Drop say Gallagher will perform a full show Tuesday evening at Lincoln High School's auditorium, then do a scaled-version soon before the downtown melon drop at midnight.

Event coordinator Rick Linenburg tells the Vincennes Sun-Commercial (http://bit.ly/1k3ni4s ) that music and performances begin at 9 p.m. and will include a Gallagher look-alike contest.

The city's watermelon drop debuted in 2008 and pays homage to Knox County's many melon farms.


Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, http://www.vincennes.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Permits required for Ohio exotics owners in 2014, none issued
Written by ANN SANNER, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 11:37

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Owners of certain snakes and dangerous wild animals in Ohio must have a permit to keep their creatures beginning Wednesday, though the state has issued none.

Just seven applications returned to the state had been completed as of Tuesday, while another 30 are in progress, according to Ohio's Department of Agriculture.

The permits are among the last pieces of the state's exotic animal crackdown to take effect, following the 2011 release of dozens of wild animals by a suicidal owner at his eastern Ohio farm. Authorities killed most of the animals, including black bears, Bengal tigers and African lions, fearing for the public's safety.

While the law allows for state officials to seize animals that are kept without a permit, that's unlikely to start immediately in the new year. The agriculture department expects to receive applications into the new year, said agency spokeswoman Erica Hawkins.

Arbitrator gives job back to fired Ohio trooper
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 08:38

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper fired after an intoxicated motorist ended up dead after a traffic stop last year is getting his job back.

An arbitrator has ruled that Sean Carpenter should be reinstated and paid for part of the time he was out of work, reports The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1cTtNmE ).

The 39-year-old Carpenter was fired in April for conduct unbecoming of an officer and for failing to perform his duty after a July 2012 incident involving a drunken driver in Delaware County near Columbus.

Carpenter was fired for leaving the 22-year-old intoxicated man with two sheriff's deputies. The deputies then dropped off the man at a Taco Bell, and he was later hit by a car and killed while walking along a road.


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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