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This Hour: Latest Ohio news, sports, business and entertainment

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FOOTBALL PLAYERS-RAPE

Football coach pleads no contest in Ohio rape case

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A volunteer football coach whose house was the scene of a party that preceded the rape of a girl by two high school football players has pleaded no contest to two charges.

The Ohio attorney general's office says Matt Belardine (BELL'-ahr-deen) entered no contest pleas Tuesday in Jefferson County court to one count of making a false statement and one count of enabling underage drinking.

Charges of obstructing official business and contributing to the delinquency of a child were dismissed.

Special Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove sentenced Belardine to 10 days in jail, one year of supervision and 40 hours of community service. She also fined him $1,000.

A message was left with Belardine's attorney seeking comment.

AKRON PRESIDENT-TRESSEL

Jim Tressel among 3 finalists to lead Akron

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is among three finalists in the University of Akron's search for a new president.

Tressel has been an administrator there for two years. He took the job after being forced out at Ohio State following a scandal in which his players sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

A campus email Tuesday from Akron trustees says the finalists include provosts from two other schools - Scott Scarborough of the University of Toledo and Ronald Nykiel (neye-KEEL') of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Trustees say each finalist will spend one day next week interviewing with advisory groups. The school's current president, Luis Proenza (proh-EN'-zah), is leaving his position in June.

Tressel also applied to be president at Youngstown State University, where he previously coached.

MISSING WOMAN

Bones believed to be southwestern Ohio woman's

CEDAR GROVE, Ind. (AP) - Authorities say human bones found in southeastern Indiana are believed to be those of a 21-year-old Ohio woman whose skeletal remains were found in the same area.

The Franklin County Coroner's Office says an official determination hasn't been made but they're believed to be the remains of Katelyn Markham of the northern Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield, Ohio. The coroner's office says the bones have been taken to Indianapolis for a forensic anthropologist to examine them.

The coroner's office says the bones were recovered this month near the town of Cedar Grove, about 30 miles northwest of Cincinnati. That's where Markham's remains were discovered a year ago.

Markham disappeared in August 2011. Her death is considered a homicide investigation but it hasn't been determined how she died or who's responsible.

FALSE DISTRESS CALL-RESTITUTION

Court: Ohio man must pay $489,000 for false call

CINCINNATI (AP) - An appeals court says an Ohio man whose false distress call triggered a massive, 21-hour search on Lake Erie must pay $489,000 to the U.S. and Canadian agencies involved in the needless rescue effort.

In a 2-1 opinion Tuesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati says a lower court properly ordered 21-year-old Danik (DAN'-ick) Kumar (KOO'-mahr) of Sandusky to pay back all costs associated with the March 2012 search for a boat in distress.

The two majority judges said the order is "an onerous burden on the shoulders of a young man," but they must deal harshly with costly hoaxes.

The dissenting judge says the estimated cost of the search was too high and shouldn't have included indirect costs.

Kumar's attorney, Edmund Searby, says he's considering appealing.

STANDOFF-POLICE SHOOTING

Ohio sheriff defends officers' actions in standoff

SOUTH LEBANON, Ohio (AP) - A sheriff says deputies were repeatedly threatened by an armed man who barricaded himself inside a southwest Ohio home before officers fatally shot him.

Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims told reporters Tuesday that 56-year-old Gary Cook had been drinking and was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Deputies had come to the South Lebanon home - northeast of Cincinnati - at about 5:15 p.m. Monday to serve Cook with a restraining order because of domestic violence.

According to WLWT-TV, Sims told reporters that Cook refused to come out. At around 10 p.m., Sims said Cook was seen bringing a shotgun up in an aiming fashion. He says that's when officers engaged.

Cook was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

DRUG RING-OHIO

12 accused in prescription-drug operation in Ohio

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (AP) - Ohio authorities say 12 people have been indicted in a prescription-drug trafficking operation in which pills were obtained from pharmacies in seven states.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that 11 of those indicted traveled to Florida to obtain the prescriptions.

According to the Mount Vernon News, the prescriptions were then filled at pharmacies in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher says the indictments include over 400 counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, aggravated funding of drug activity and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The drugs included over 100,000 prescription pills such as Percocet and others with a street value of about $2 million.

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned May 2.

DEATH PENALTY-OHIO-REVIEW

Prosecutors criticize Ohio death penalty review

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Prosecutors are criticizing final proposals in a report about Ohio's capital punishment law, calling them anti-death penalty.

A dissenting report says the committee that spent more than two years studying the state's death penalty law did not follow a mandate that put abolition of the law off the table.

The 49-page report released Tuesday calls the recommendations biased in favor of defense attorneys, one-sided and likely to create endless delays.

Supporters of the committee's work have said the 56 recommendations improve the law while making sure only the worst of the worst criminals face capital punishment.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor convened the committee in 2011 to produce a fair, impartial and balanced analysis of Ohio's three-decades-old death penalty law.

INDICTED LAWMAKER

Judge denies ex-Ohio lawmaker early prison release

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A judge has denied a former Ohio lawmaker's request for early release from prison, saying he agreed to serve three years.

Under a plea deal, former state Rep. Clayton Luckie of Dayton was sentenced in January 2013 to the three-year prison term after pleading guilty to election falsification, grand theft and other charges.

State and federal investigators found that Luckie skimmed nearly $130,000 in campaign funds for personal use and failed to list campaign expenditures for six years.

Franklin County Judge Colleen O'Donnell said in her Tuesday ruling that "a bargain is a bargain." She said early release would demean the seriousness of the offenses, and that the court could have imposed a more than 10-year prison term.

Luckie has attributed the crimes to "errors in judgment."

PRIMARY ELECTIONS-VOTING

More than 73K Ohioans have voted early in primary

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - More than 73,000 Ohioans have voted early so far in the state's primary election next month.

Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO'-sted) says 73,207 residents already have cast absentee ballots, while 155,093 ballots have been requested since the early voting period began for most on April 1. Absentee voting for military and overseas voters started March 22.

The election includes same-party candidate contests, a statewide ballot issue and about 600 local issues.

The deadline to request an early ballot is noon on May 3. Ohioans can vote absentee without giving any reason.

Voted ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by May 5 and received by May 16. Election boards also will accept them until polls close May 6. They cannot be returned at polling places.

OHIO PARKS-UPGRADES

Ohio state park facilities to be modernized

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State officials are preparing to invest $88.5 million to upgrade and modernize trails, campgrounds and recreational facilities in Ohio's state parks over the next two years.

The outlay headed to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources through the state capital budget is more than four times larger than average. Details are to be announced at news conferences Wednesday in Grand Lake St. Mary's and Indian Lake.

Natural resources department director James Zehringer told The Associated Press in an interview that the money will be shared among Ohio's 74 state parks. Ohio's is one of only seven park systems nationally that charges no entry fees.

Through a website, parks visitors will help decide which camp sites, cabins, lodges, restrooms, shower houses, trails, roads and wastewater treatment facilities see improvements.

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