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Ex-Logan County superintendent takes plea deal in child sex case

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 12:16 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 3:07 PM


            Heather O’Donnell, left, and Patrick O’Donnell.
Heather O’Donnell, left, and Patrick O’Donnell.

The former Indian Lake superintendent who faced 14 charges in connection with an alleged child rape accepted a plea deal Wednesday.

Patrick O’Donnell, 52, entered an Alford plea to one count of gross sexual imposition. That means he didn’t admit to the crime but accepts its punishment.

RELATED: Trial starts for Logan County superintendents in child rape case

Heather O’Donnell, his wife and the Midwest Regional Education Services Center superintendent, had two charges of children endangering dropped against her as part of the plea. She’s on paid leave pending the outcome of the case.

Patrick O’Donnell faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He will also have to register as a sex offender for 25 years. Logan County Common Pleas Judge William Goslee ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and a new court date wasn’t set.

“It was an agreement that we had actually been working on for the past couple days,” Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart said. “These type of cases are always traumatic. You don’t want to have to put the victim on the stand and be subject to trauma.”

Patrick O’Donnell had faced felony charges that included rape-child under 13, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. The Indian Lake Local Schools fired him from his position in November. The alleged victim in the case wasn’t a student at the district.

The plea agreement was approved by the victim, Stewart said, and his main priority was to get justice for the victim.

EXTRA: Logan County superintendent in child sex case sues district

“We’re satisfied with the plea agreement,” Stewart said. “Mr. O’Donnell is facing prison time and will have to register as a sex offender.”

Along with the possible prison time, O’Donnell won’t be allowed to be a superintendent anymore, Stewart said.

In court, Patrick O’Donnell was asked by Goslee why he decided to take the plea deal.

MORE: Indian Lake superintendent charged with child rape fired

“To avoid the consequences of the trial,” Patrick O’Donnell said.

Patrick O’Donnell was taken to the Logan County Jail after his plea, where he is being held without bond, defense attorney Samuel Shamansky said.

The plea was in the best interest of everyone involved, Shamansky said.

“Cases of this nature are inherently unpredictable,” he said.

The deal is a good one for the defense, Shamansky said, given the mandatory life sentences the suspect had faced if convicted by a jury.

PREVIOUSLY: Trial this week for superintendents charged in sex abuse case

Dennis Pergram represented Heather O’Donnell in the case and declined comment.

Dropping both counts against Heather O’Donnell is in the best interest of the victim, Stewart said. The victim remained strong throughout the entire process, he said.

“This girl showed tremendous heart and tremendous strength,” Steward said. “She faced a lot of pressure.”

Patrick O’Donnell was placed on paid leave in June after he was arrested. The Indian Lake School Board fired him in November and Patrick O’Donnell sued for his job back shortly after. Shamansky didn’t know Wednesday if that lawsuit would be dropped.

A call by the Springfield News-Sun to the Midwest Regional Education Services Center to ask about Heather O’Donnell’s future with the district wasn’t returned.

The plea deal was agreed to after a marathon jury selection process on Tuesday.

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2nd boy accused of school threats ordered to remain in custody

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 10:17 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 4:42 PM


            This afternoon, Waren County Juvenile Court Judge Joe Kirby flashed a newspaper headline reporting that more than 400 people had been shot in 200 school shootings since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before ordering a boy, 17, of Turtlecreek Twp., who has already served four days in detention to remain in the detention center in a school threat case. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF
This afternoon, Waren County Juvenile Court Judge Joe Kirby flashed a newspaper headline reporting that more than 400 people had been shot in 200 school shootings since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before ordering a boy, 17, of Turtlecreek Twp., who has already served four days in detention to remain in the detention center in a school threat case. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF

UPDATED @ 4:30 p.m

Warren County Judge Joe Kirby ordered a 14-year-old Hamilton Twp. boy to remain in custody and undergo an assessment following a hearing Tuesday. The boy is accused of inducing panic, making false alarms and intimidation of a witness after a Snapchat of him holding a realistic toy gun to a friend’s head left other students worried he would bring a gun to school at Little Miami High School.

RELATED: ‘Whole world is on edge’ Warren County judge tells teens accused of making school threats

EARLIER:

A Lebanon High School student will remain in the Warren County Detention Center for assessment in a school threat case.

This afternoon, Judge Joe Kirby flashed a newspaper headline reporting that more than 400 people had been shot in 200 school shootings before issuing the order to the boy, 17, of Turtlecreek Twp., who has already served four days in detention since he surrendered to authorities on Friday.

RELATED: Lebanon High School student accused of threatening another student with social media

He is charged with inducing panic by texting, “THAT’S IT IM GONNA SHOOT UP A SCHOOL I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE” to friends on Feb. 15.

RELATED: Lebanon High School student accused of threatening another student with social media

This case stems from an incident reported on Friday night by Lebanon City Schools involving a student threatening a student in another district using social media.

MORE: Ross High student held over alleged social media threat

Another juvenile who attended Little Miami High School is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. hearing on charges including inducing panic and intimidation of a witness in the court in Lebanon, according to court officials.

MORE: Bomb threats plaguing Warren County schools again

“You could not not pick a worse offense,” Kirby said, noting the text was sent the day after the school shooting sin Parkland, Fla.

MORE: 13 Things to Know About Parkland high school’s namesake

He is to return to court on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m.

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You could lose your tax refund with this latest IRS scam

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 12:19 PM

You could lose your tax refund with this latest IRS scam

A sneaky new scam involving tax refunds is growing, and it means you need to keep a close eye on your bank account.

There are several variations of the scam: unexpected refund deposits to your bank account using compromised bank routing information, suspicious paper checks coming in the mail and, in one case reported in Maryland, it appeared a fraudulent refund check had been deposited using a smartphone. 

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According to the IRS, the victim will then receive a call or recorded message saying they need to return the funds to a collection agency-which is actually the scam account. 

If you pay the scammers, you will get a double whammy hit to your bank account when the IRS or your bank realize that the deposit was bogus and withdraws the funds.

The number of victims jumped from a few hundred to a few thousand in just days, after more tax practitioner data breaches, according to the IRS.

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The IRS has these recommendations to avoid getting scammed:

If you notice a suspicious deposit, contact your bank to have the money returned to the IRS and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. 

If you receive a paper check, write “void” in the endorsement field on the back and return it to the location printed on the check. 

If you mistakenly cashed the erroneous refund check, submit a check for the full amount to the IRS location near you. 
  • ANDOVER – Internal Revenue Service, 310 Lowell Street, Andover MA 01810
  • ATLANTA – Internal Revenue Service, 4800 Buford Highway, Chamblee GA 30341
  • AUSTIN – Internal Revenue Service, 3651 South Interregional Highway 35, Austin TX 78741
  • BRKHAVN – Internal Revenue Service, 5000 Corporate Ct., Holtsville NY 11742
  • CNCNATI – Internal Revenue Service, 201 West Rivercenter Blvd., Covington KY 41011
  • FRESNO – Internal Revenue Service, 5045 East Butler Avenue, Fresno CA 93727
  • KANS CY – Internal Revenue Service, 333 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City MO 64108-4302
  • MEMPHIS – Internal Revenue Service, 5333 Getwell Road, Memphis TN 38118
  • OGDEN – Internal Revenue Service, 1973 Rulon White Blvd., Ogden UT 84201
  • PHILA – Internal Revenue Service, 2970 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104

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Two men shot to death on North Dixie Drive were friends

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 5:12 PM


            The gate is closed and locked Tuesday at Buck-I Auto Sales on North Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp. Authorities said owner Frank D. Buck, 71, and Lester Golson, 59, were found shot to death inside on Monday. MIKE CAMPBELL/Staff
The gate is closed and locked Tuesday at Buck-I Auto Sales on North Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp. Authorities said owner Frank D. Buck, 71, and Lester Golson, 59, were found shot to death inside on Monday. MIKE CAMPBELL/Staff

The names of the two men found shot to death Monday in a Harrison Twp. car dealership have been released, but their autopsies are still pending.

LISTEN: The 911 call about the North Dixie shooting

The men, reportedly friends, were officially identified Tuesday as Buck-I Auto Sales owner Frank D. Buck, 71, and Lester Golson, 59, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Deputies said they do not believe anyone else was involved in the shooting deaths, but declined to provide many additional details.

Buck’s daughter, who said Tuesday that funeral services are pending, expressed love for her father and compassion for the Golson family.

“My father was a loving man would do anything in the world for just about anybody, he was loved by a lot he was always smiling, laughing, and joking around,” said Candace Buck. “My condolences are with the Golson family during this very hard time.”

FIRST REPORT: 2 men found shot to death inside auto dealership

Candace Buck said Golson was a family friend who had purchased vehicles at the business before.

A woman who tried to get into the business Monday and saw one man point a gun at another then called 911 to report that she saw people get into a “tussle” before she heard three gunshots.

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In the sometimes frantic 6-minute call at 1:22 p.m., the woman said, “I was trying to get to my car and get to the phone to call the police then I heard gunshots.”

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office incident report listed the call as a homicide with an investigation pending. Other than that, it gave few clues as to detective’s theories.

The report’s narrative read: “On Monday, February 1, 2018, Deputies from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to 2801 North Dixie Drive in Harrison Township in reference to a shooting.”

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Deputies had not commented on the relationship between Buck and Golson. Neither had felony records in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

Kyle Phillips of Huber Heights watched Monday as police worked the scene. He said he shopped for a car at the dealership several years ago.

Phillips said word of two deaths was “crazy” but that gunfire in the Northridge area — where he used to live — was not surprising to him.

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The sheriff’s office said people in the North Dixie area shouldn’t worry about suspects.

“I don’t believe that there’s anybody that we need to worry about right now,” Capt. Jeremy Roy said. “We think it was contained right here.”

Police have not released how many weapons were found at the scene or if the bullets found in the deceased’s bodies match the weapon or weapons found.

Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rob Streck said Tuesday there was no new information available and that detectives are chasing down leads.

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Springfield teen guilty of killing brother: Crime scene a ‘horror movie’

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 9:16 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:07 PM

A teen pleaded guilty to murder.

The teenager who was 16 when prosecutors say he killed his younger brother has pleaded guilty to murder.

Nicholas Starling, who was accused of stabbing and beating his 14-year-old brother with a baseball bat to death in October 2016, was sentenced last week to 15 years to life in prison, according to court documents.

The violent slaying of Harley Starling resembled something out of a horror movie and is the worst child-on-child crime Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson has ever prosecuted, he said.

RELATED: Springfield teen accused of killing brother ruled competent

“It was up close, it was personal, if you think about it,” Wilson said. “He took that bat and you know he was feeling the shock of that bat as he hit his brother in the head with it. And to finish him off he walks into the kitchen and grabs a knife and plunges that knife into his brother’s throat.”

Jim Marshall, Clark County public defender and Nicholas’ attorney, didn’t return a call from the Springfield News-Sun seeking comment Tuesday.

Harley was found dead in his bed by his grandmother at his Superior Avenue home on the morning of Oct. 31, 9-1-1 audio recordings indicate.

Detectives and prosecutors quickly connected the murder to Nicholas Starling, Wilson said, but they still can’t find a direct motive.

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“The question was always why would he do something like that,” Wilson said. “We will never get the answer to that. Clearly, this is a very disturbed young man and we hope that the parole board, when he eventually does come up for parole, looks very seriously at what he’s done.”

Springfield Police Division Detective Ron Jordan testified in an earlier court hearing that Nicholas Starling said he and his brother had been in a previous argument over Halloween candy.

MORE: Candlelight vigil honors slain Springfield teen

The two might have been fighting over Halloween candy, Wilson said, but investigators couldn’t directly link the fight to the killing.

“We never could figure out why he did what he did,” he said.

The older brother’s tough upbringing might have played a role, Wilson said. The teen’s father was murdered two years before and his mother was in and out of the boys’ lives, Wilson said.

Another possible reason was the teen’s interest, Wilson said.

“He seemed to be researching the occult, the Insane Clown Posse,” Wilson said. “He was very into some satanic worship and that kind of stuff. We were never able to prove a direct link between why he did what he did and his interests, but it piles on for how disturbed this kid is.”

But that doesn’t excuse him from the consequences of the violent murder, Wilson said, and Nicholas Starling wasn’t criminally insane at the time of the slaying.

TRENDING STORY: Family: Attempted robbery led to shooting of Springfield teen

“Anyone who could do something like this is ill,” he said. “You have to be a sick person to do what he did but that doesn’t mean you are criminally insane. It is very clear from the evidence that when he murdered his brother he was certainly able to appreciate the wrongness of his actions.”

Nicholas took steps to cover up what he did, Wilson said, including hiding the bat and knife and trying to make it look like a suicide.

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