Ohio headlines


AG seeks Internet cafe crackdown

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants state lawmakers to crack down on storefront gambling-style operations known as Internet cafes.

DeWine told lawmakers Wednesday he supports an Internet cafe regulation bill sponsored by state Rep. Matt Huffman of Lima.

DeWine says that, without regulation, Ohio’s nearly 800 Internet cafes are a rip-off with no guaranteed pay-off. Backers of Internet cafes say state regulations could amount to a ban.

Late last year, the Ohio Senate put off a vote on House-passed Internet cafe regulations, saying there wasn’t enough time to consider it.

Customers at the cafes pay for Internet time or phone cards and use them to bet points on computers loaded with games such as poker. Operators say they sell legitimate products with a chance to win a prize.


Toby Keith’s bar sued for back rent

Developers are suing country singer Toby Keith’s namesake restaurant at Cincinnati’s riverfront.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill is three months behind on its rent at The Banks, a new $600 million development between the Reds and Bengals stadiums along the Ohio River.

The Banks developers are suing the southern-style sports bar for $121,000 in back rent, alleging breach of contract. The lawsuit was filed Friday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

The year-old business remains open.

A woman identifying herself as a manager at Toby Keith’s declined to comment Wednesday. But a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page says it’s withholding rent because developers violated their lease by allowing another country music-themed restaurant at The Banks.


Bill would fix errors in sports safety law

Coaches and officials in Ohio’s youth sports leagues could face criminal penalties for violating a new state law governing young athletes’ concussions and head injuries.

But state lawmakers said Wednesday that a bill-writing error unintentionally imposes the punishments and they want to correct it.

The new law takes effect in late April. It requires coaches and referees in youth sports organizations to have players who show concussion-like symptoms sit out games or practices until they’re checked and cleared by a doctor or licensed health care provider. Coaches would also need to know more about concussions and how to spot warning signs.

Two legislators have sponsored a bill aimed at removing criminal penalties for violating the requirements.

Rep. Sean O’Brien says the law is intended to promote safety, not impose punishments.


Ohio panel examines rules for health ‘navigators’

Ohio lawmakers are again weighing regulations for a new group of professionals who will help guide consumers through the new health insurance exchanges.

So-called “navigators” are expected to help educate consumers and small businesses about the new online marketplaces created by the federal health care law. Through these exchanges, consumers will be able to buy individual private policies and apply for government subsidies to help pay their premiums.

Bills introduced in the House and Senate would make navigators pass background checks and set training and educational requirements. The measures also specify they can’t sell, solicit or negotiate health insurance.

Ohio has opted for a so-called partnership with the federal government to run the exchange.

Exchanges are scheduled to go into operation in October, with insurance coverage beginning in January 2014.


Investigates inmate’s handcuffing claim

The state is investigating an Ohio inmate’s claim that he was raped after a prison guard placed him in a cell in handcuffs.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says the female guard was placed on administrative leave with pay Jan. 19 for alleged failure to follow agency policy.

State Highway Patrol records show the staff member was accused of leaving handcuffs on the inmate when he was placed in segregation with another inmate on Jan. 18 at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima.

The patrol says the inmate alleged that his cellmate assaulted him while he was still handcuffed.

The patrol is investigating the guard for alleged dereliction of duty.


Lawsuit results from drunk driving fatal

The boyfriend of a central Ohio woman killed in crash caused by a repeat drunken driver is suing the man’s employer and those who may have served him alcohol.

WBNS-TV says an attorney for Brad Weaver filed the wrongful death lawsuit this week. His girlfriend, Heidi Hecker, was killed in the Nov. 8 crash. Weaver and the couple’s 10-month-old daughter were injured.

A jury convicted 45-year-old Marc Kraft last week, and a judge sentenced him to more than 29 years in prison. It was Kraft’s seventh drunken-driving conviction.

The lawsuit claims Kraft’s employer knew or should have known about his driving history before entrusting him with the pickup truck he was driving when he slammed into the Subaru at an intersection in Delaware, near Columbus.