Court Round Up

Oklahoma: Former workers may pursue wage claims against co.
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Former employees of bankrupt Arrow Trucking Co. will be allowed to file wage claims after a bankruptcy judge ruled the company violated federal law.

Judge Terrence Michael ruled that Tulsa-based Arrow violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The WARN Act requires companies with more than 100 employees to give at least 60 days written notice of plans to close the business.

Arrow had an estimated 1,400 employees when it shut down its offices on Dec. 22 with no prior notification. The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Jan. 8.

Bankruptcy trustee Patrick Malloy III says employees are eligible for up to $10,950 in unpaid wages and WARN Act damages.

Kentucky: Charges dropped against man cleared of rape
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Prosecutors have dismissed charges and agreed never to refile them against a Louisville man cleared in a 1981 rape for which he spent 11 years in prison.

The move, made during a hearing last week, means Michael VonAllman’s 29-year journey through the criminal justice system is over.

In June, Judge Charles Cunningham found evidence presented by VonAllman’s attorney that the actual rapist was likely Ronald Tackett convincing enough to throw out the conviction.

VonAllman, 57, was convicted for the 1981 rape and robbery of a 22-year-old woman and was paroled in 1994. Tackett died in a car crash while fleeing police in 1983.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristi Gray said the charges were dropped because the victim did not want to testify if the case were retried.

Wisconsin: Judge says proof needed in priest abuse case
APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — An Outagamie County judge has ruled plaintiffs suing the Diocese of Green Bay must show proof it knew of prior abuse before the civil case can proceed.

John Patrick Feeney was convicted of 2004 of sexually assaulting Todd and Troy Merryfield in 1978 when they were 12 and 14 and parishioners at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Freedom. The Merryfields have come forward publicly as abuse victims. They’re suing the diocese under fraud statutes.

The plaintiffs say the diocese failed to inform parishioners of Feeney’s past, including his church-ordered sexual abuse counseling.

The Appleton Post-Crescent reports Judge Nancy Krueger ruled last week that the Merryfields must prove the diocese knew concretely of past abuse, not just “reasonable inferences.”

Texas: Man who faked being a military hero still in jail
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A 39-year-old Army veteran who faked being a military hero will remain in custody until a judge in San Antonio decides whether to revoke his probation.

Brian Culp, who served two tours of duty, had faced six months in prison on charges of falsely claiming a Purple Heart, falsely claiming a Bronze Star with valor and creating a fake ID that gave him access to military installations. Culp pleaded guilty in 2008 and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Culp in late June was kicked out of a halfway house amid allegations of insolence, lying and intimidation of staff. He was arrested in early July.

Culp on Thursday waived his right to a preliminary probation revocation hearing.

No hearing date was immediately set by U.S. Magistrate John Primomo.

Florida: Death of wealthy hotelier widow ruled a homicide
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida medical examiner has reversed his ruling that the death of a prominent hotelier's widow was an accident.

Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper says he ruled last week that 87-year-old Bernice Novack death in 2009 was a homicide. The ruling comes a day after the woman's daughter-in-law was accused in open court of plotting the beating death.

Bernice Novack, whose husband founded Miami's famed Fontainebleau Hotel, died of blunt force injuries to the head at her Fort Lauderdale home. It was initially ruled an accident.

Narcy Novack is charged with orchestrating the death of her wealthy husband Ben Novack, who was Bernice Novack's son. Prosecutors said in court Wednesday that Narcy Novack planned both deaths to collect millions from their wills.

Police said last week that Narcy Novack has not been charged in the older woman's death.

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