National Roundup

Probation for man who broke into restaurant

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts man accused of breaking into a restaurant, munching on pizza and guzzling beer before making off with $150 has been sentenced to a year of probation.

Daulton Young, of Pittsfield, was connected to the break-in last summer at the East Side Cafe by police who traced two calls from the restaurant's phone to Young's girlfriend.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that a judge Tuesday continued the breaking and entering and larceny charges without a finding for a year to avoid entering a felony conviction on the 21-year-old's record. Young was found guilty of a misdemeanor trespassing charge.

Cafe employees arrived the next day to discover a half-eaten pizza, an empty beer bottle and two cash registers that had been pilfered.

His attorney says Young has an alcohol problem.

New Jersey
Trial set for rabbi in case of divorce kidnap team

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The kidnappers were armed with surgical blades, rope, handcuffs and cattle prods, prosecutors say. The targets: Jewish husbands unwilling to divorce their wives.

Rabbi Mendel Epstein goes on trial Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. Prosecutors allege that the Orthodox rabbi's team used brutal methods and tools, including handcuffs and electric cattle prods, to torture men into granting divorces.

"If it can get a bull that weighs 5 tons to move, you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know," prosecutors said Epstein told two undercover FBI agents posing as a brother and sister trying to force the sister's husband to grant the ritual Jewish divorce known as a "get." Prosecutors say he was recorded telling the agents the effort would cost at least $50,000.

The kidnap team brought surgical blades, a screwdriver and rope to a staged kidnapping in 2013, according to the indictment. Epstein, who was indicted last May along with his son and three other Orthodox rabbis, told the undercover agents he arranged similar kidnappings every year or year and a half, the indictment said.

Several co-defendants have pleaded guilty in the case and others will go on trial with Epstein. Openings statements are expected Wednesday morning.

Defense lawyer Robert Stahl disputed the charges and called Epstein a "champion of women's rights." Epstein wrote the 1989 book "A Woman's Guide to the Get Process."

"I think that a lot of information will come out about the supposed victims, and the evidence will not be there that he was involved in certain incidents," Stahl said last week. "Much more will come to light once the trial gets underway."

Epstein is free on bail.

Mom accused of forgery in son's school absences

NEW CASTLE, Ind. (AP) - An eastern Indiana woman is facing felony charges after police say she altered and forged doctors' notes in an effort to excuse some of her son's repeated school absences.

The Star Press reports 47-year-old Deana L. Murphy of New Castle was arrested Friday on two counts of forgery. The charges carry a maximum 30-month prison term.

Murphy had already faced a misdemeanor charge of violating compulsory school attendance laws. That charge carried a maximum 180-day jail term.

Court documents show Murphy's 11-year-old son had missed 19 days of classes at Tri Elementary School as of Dec. 4.

The documents say Murphy altered the date on one doctor's return-to-school note and fabricated another.

A call to Murphy's home seeking comment was not answered Wednesday.

Dad charged after accidentally shooting son

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) - Police say a Glen Burnie man is facing several criminal charges after accidentally shooting his son in the stomach with a shotgun.

Anne Arundel County Police said Wednesday that officers responded to the shooting scene at a Glen Burnie apartment on Tuesday night. A 23-year-old man was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his stomach.

The man's father, 54-year-old Ronald Phelps, told police that he had been cleaning his shotgun when it accidentally fired, hitting his son in the stomach.

Police say the son underwent surgery and is expected to survive.

Phelps was arrested and charged with illegally possessing a shotgun and ammunition and with marijuana possession after police say they found 200 grams of pot in his apartment. No attorney was listed for Phelps in online court records.

Judge orders child's medical history released

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - A northern Idaho judge has ordered prosecutors to turn over a 2-year-old girl's medical records to the attorney defending a baby sitter charged with killing the child.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that 2nd District Court Judge Jeff M. Brudie on Tuesday granted the request made by the defense attorney for 30-year-old Natasha Hodges.

Prosecutors have charged Hodges with first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Rylee Mingo. Authorities say Hodges struck the child in the abdomen, causing internal bleeding and death.

Defense attorney Richard Cuddihy says that Mingo died of natural causes from pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas.

Brudie ordered Mingo's medical history and medical examiner's findings be turned over to Cuddihy.

Hodges has pleaded not guilty and has been out of custody on $50,000 bond.

State Supreme Court stands by traffic cameras

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court is standing by its ruling upholding use of traffic cameras.

The justices on Wednesday rejected a driver's motion to reconsider their 4-3 ruling in December. The court ruled in favor of Ohio cities' authority to use cameras to catch speeders and red light-runners and to handle drivers' appeals with administrative procedures.

The attorney for the motorist who challenged a camera-generated speeding ticket in Toledo had asked the state's highest court to take the rare step of reconsidering a ruling. He argued in his motion that the divided court went beyond the state constitution and court precedent.

Toledo's law director and its camera vendor responded that there was no legitimate reason to reconsider.

Published: Thu, Feb 19, 2015