National Roundup

 California

Singer gets 7-year prison term for scam 
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The frontman for a fledgling Los Angeles rock band was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday after bilking more than $11 million from banks and using it to fuel his fantasy of being a rock star, prosecutors said.
Robert Mawhinney, 30, pleaded guilty in April to five counts, including money laundering.
Mawhinney was the lead singer for Lights Over Paris, and authorities say he gave the appearance the band was successful. He enlisted rapper The Game for one of his videos and had a customized tour bus emblazoned with the group’s name.
He received more than $11 million in loans from four banks. Prosecutors said he gave lenders statements that claimed he had nearly $8 million in assets, but it turned out his account had less than $10,000, authorities said.
Mawhinney “used the millions of dollars that he fraudulently obtained for the selfish purpose of funding his fantasy of being a rock star,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Loan officers even visited a recording studio in Burbank to determine if Mawhinney, who used the stage name Robb University, was creditworthy. He said he sought the loans to finish a recording room in the studio, among other expenses, court documents show.
Mawhinney appeared to have lived like a rock star, staying in a 35-story luxury high-rise in downtown Los Angeles and taking trips to the Caribbean, Europe and South America.
Prosecutors said he attempted to pay off of some of his loans with proceeds he received from earlier payouts but eventually defaulted.

Ohio
High court again tosses wo­man’s death sentence 
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has once again overturned the death sentence of the state’s only female death row prisoner.
The court’s 5-2 decision in the case of Donna Roberts found that a judge failed to consider evidence arguing against a death sentence, including indications that brain trauma from several traffic accidents had affected Roberts’ mental health.
Other evidence included Roberts’ childhood in an abusive home and evidence of good deeds as an adult, such as raising money for wounded soldiers in Israel.
The court’s Tuesday ruling ordered a judge to resentence the 69-year-old Roberts for the 2001 murder of her former husband, Robert Fingerhut, in Howland in northeast Ohio.
Roberts’ first death sentence was overturned in 2006 following the discovery of a prosecutor’s involvement in writing Roberts’ sentencing order.

Maine
Ex-division director sues Maine CDC 
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A former division director at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention who says she was assaulted and harassed after refusing to shred public records has filed a lawsuit in federal court.
Sharon Leahy-Lind, ex-director of the Division of Local Public Health, accuses the Maine CDC and its director, Dr. Sheila Pinette, of retaliation and defamation for events that started with her refusal “to shred public documents that would have disclosed irregularities and possibly illegal activity by the CDC.”
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland alleges violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act and seeks reinstatement, or lost pay and damages.
A message left Tuesday with a Maine CDC spokesman in Augusta was not immediately returned. The agency has in the past refused to comment on Leahy-Lind’s allegations.
Leahy-Lind contends she was ordered to destroy scoring of applications for 27 Healthy Maine Partnerships that were vying for state funding. She also said the final scores that were posted on the state website were different from the ones she was told to shred.
She said in her federal complaint that she was physically assaulted by a deputy director and told to keep her mouth shut by another official. She contends she suffered health problems because of the hostile work environment.
 
Minnesota
Defense: Fetus’ death is abortion, not murder  
HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) — The attorney for an Apple Valley man accused of killing his pregnant wife argues the death of her 15-week-old fetus was an abortion, not murder.
Roger Holland is accused of strangling 37-year-old Margorie Holland at their town house last March and trying to make it look like she accidentally fell down a staircase, according to a criminal complaint.
Defense attorney Marsh Halberg has filed a motion to have the murder charges dismissed. He argues that the only person whose rights could have been violated was the mother, and she was already dead. Halberg’s argument raises questions about how crimes against the unborn can be prosecuted.
One state law bars unlawful abortion and another prohibits the murder of an unborn child. Both govern essentially the same conduct but carry different punishments, Halberg said.
“The exact conduct he is being accused of is chargeable under a separate, less severe statute,” he wrote in his motion.
Halberg says the state’s abortion law is the proper fit for accusations against Holland. The criminal abortion is an unranked offense in Minnesota, leaving the sentence up to the court’s discretion, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said the laws on abortion and the murder of an unborn child are not interchangeable.
The argument that they’re interchangeable “ignores the profound legal differences between an abortion” and the murder of an unborn child, he said. “For the court to accept this argument, it would have to place no value in the life of the unborn child separate and apart from the life of the mother,” Backstrom said.
The court did not immediately rule on the motion. Holland’s trial is scheduled for Monday.
 
Alabama
Lawsuit filed to block wind farm 
GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A group of Cherokee County residents have gone to court in an attempt to block a proposed wind farm on Lookout Mountain in Alabama’s northeastern corner.
The Gadsden Times reports that the group filed a lawsuit Monday.
It’s the second lawsuit filed against Pioneer Green Energy, which has plans for several wind turbines in the area. Etowah County property owners filed a similar lawsuit Aug. 1.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction that would prevent Pioneer Green from building wind turbines. Property owners who will lease their land to Pioneer Green to build the turbines also are named in the suit. Nearby residents have complained the turbines will be an eyesore and a nuisance.

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