Battle Plan - Operation Football


City to pay Stormy Daniels $450,000 over strip club arrest

In this April 16, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's capital city agreed Friday to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels $450,000 to settle a lawsuit over her arrest at a strip club last year, the latest fallout traced to the city's now-disbanded vice unit.

Daniels' federal defamation complaint against several Columbus officers alleged police conspired to retaliate against her over her claims that she had sex with Donald Trump before he became president.

She was arrested on suspicion of inappropriately touching an undercover officer following a performance at Sirens in July 2018, but the city attorney's office dropped charges within hours.

The agreement was reached after mediation Friday, with all parties agreeing the figure was fair "given the facts and circumstances involved," said Meredith Tucker, a spokeswoman for City Attorney Zach Klein.

A message was left with an attorney for Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

The interim Columbus police chief recommended this month that two officers from the former vice unit be fired for their roles in the undercover strip club operation that resulted in Daniels' arrest.

Chief Tom Quinlan also recommended suspensions for a lieutenant and sergeant, and a written reprimand for a commander. The city's safety director has the final say. The police union has called the recommended discipline excessive.

An internal police review determined Daniels' arrest was improper but not planned in advance or politically motivated.

Officers chose to obtain evidence for alleged illegal touching of customers by dancers "by placing themselves, unnecessarily, at risk and potential for physical contact with Ms. Clifford," the March report concluded.

The city disbanded the vice unit the same month as allegations of problems piled up, placing the investigation of vice-related crimes under the Narcotics division and promising a more community-based approach.

Problems with the unit included accusations that Andrew Mitchell, a former vice squad officer, fatally shot a woman in August 2018 who was sitting in his unmarked police vehicle in what Mitchell says was an act of self-defense.

Columbus police say Mitchell shot and killed 23-year-old Donna Castleberry after she stabbed him in the hand during an undercover prostitution investigation.

Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well as federal charges accusing him of forcing women to have sex with him under threat of an arrest, pressuring others to help cover up crimes, and lying to federal investigators when he said he had never had sex with prostitutes.

Castleberry's family is seeking more than $3.5 million in damages in a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Mitchell, the city and the police department.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Truckload of grapes won't make it to winery after rollover crash

The driver was slightly injured when his truck, loaded with grapes, rolled in California. (Photo: NBC News)
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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (WTHR) - A load of grapes was lost when the semi carrying them crashed in California wine country.

It happened early Friday morning in Manteca.

The driver told investigators he lost control of the rig on a sweeping curve. The wheels hit soft soil on the road's berm and it drifted into a ditch, rolling onto its side.

The spilled grapes quickly filled the ditch, an irrigation hold for a nearby orchard.

The driver was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

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Operation Football: Highlights from Week One games

Operation Football Highlights 1
Operation Football Highlights 2
Operation Football Highlights 3
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Week One of Operation Football is in the books.

Check the scores for your favorite teams here and click on the media player above for game highlights.



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No chaos this time as Woodstock concert site preps for 50th

This Aug. 15, 1969 file photo shows people abandoning their trucks, cars and buses, backed up for 10 miles, as some 200,000 festival goers try to reach the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel, N.Y. (AP File Photo)
Michael Hill
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BETHEL, N.Y. (AP) — Woodstock will be celebrated on its 50th anniversary, but it won't be your hippie uncle's trample-the-fences concert.

While plans for a big Woodstock 50 festival collapsed after a run of calamities, the bucolic upstate New York site of the 1969 show is hosting a long weekend of events featuring separate shows by festival veterans like Carlos Santana and John Fogerty.

In this Aug. 16, 1969 file photo rock music fans relax during a break in the entertainment at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel, N.Y. (AP File Photo)

But officials concerned about traffic jams and crowding are strictly limiting access to the famous field now maintained by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Visitors will need "travel passes" to drive to the site Thursday through Sunday, and only people with tickets for evening events can get those passes. There will be checkpoints.

"We're trying to encourage people that are not interested in the concert-side of things, and just want to come and sort of breathe the air and feel the vibes ... to come on other weekends," said Bethel Woods chief executive officer Darlene Fedun.

Some would argue that Woodstock's five-decade legacy belongs to the 400,000 or so people who attended the weekend festival, or to anyone inspired by the peace and music that came out of that anarchic weekend. But, as the anniversary approaches, in practice, it belongs to the separate groups that control the Woodstock music festival name and the concert site 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of New York City.

And their actions make clear that 2019 is way different from 1969.

This Aug. 17, 1969 file photo shows music fans seeking shelter is a grass hut at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel, N.Y. where the sign above reads "Have a Marijuana." (AP Photo, File)

Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang was part of a group that failed this year to pull off a multi-day Woodstock 50 festival. Organizers faced a series of setbacks, including the loss of their initial upstate New York site. Then they were denied a permit at an alternate site about a month before the show.

Woodstock organizers were denied permits a month before the '69 show, too — that time in Wallkill, New York. Lang found the Bethel site with weeks to go. No such kismet this time. Eleventh-hour plans to stage a free concert in Maryland fizzled.

"It's as foolish to think you can recreate a 1969 rock event like Woodstock in 2019 as it would be to try and persuade people to go back to old-fashioned telephones and operator-booked long distance calls," said Simon Napier-Bell, a veteran rock manager who has worked with acts including the Yardbirds and Wham!.

The Woodstock era was a time of amateurism and idealism, Napier Bell wrote in an email, and this is a time of professionalism and realism.

The actual concert site in upstate farm country has attracted tie-dyed pilgrims for decades. Famous for becoming a muddy mess on Woodstock weekend, the old farm field is now a tidy greenspace. Visitors can wander the trimmed grass and make peace sign poses by the waist-high Woodstock monument in a corner.

"It's like hallowed ground for us rock-and-rollers," said 56-year-old Bill Murtha, of Troy, New York, during a visit this week. "It's like Gettysburg. You can feel the vibe of what happened."

The site went establishment after the not-for-profit Bethel Woods center bought up the hillside and surrounding land in the late '90s. A Woodstock-and-'60s-themed museum sits atop the fenced-in field and there's an outdoor amphitheater over the hill where Santana and Fogerty will play on separate nights.

"When they first built it, I had mixed feelings about it," said 66-year-old Bill Bokesz on one of his regular visits to the site. "But there's not condos here. It's still here. They preserved the field. ... They did a really good job."

The Somersworth, New Hampshire, resident will come back to see Arlo Guthrie perform Thursday before an outdoor screening of the Woodstock documentary on the festival field. He'll hang out with campers nearby and, yes, he has tickets.

Though access to the field is usually open, Bethel Woods is setting restrictions next weekend to avoid any whiff of Woodstock-style chaos. Fedun said the site already expects big crowds of ticket holders and the country roads can only handle so much traffic. Local officials expect up to 100,000 visitors in the area from Thursday through Sunday.

"This time, we're going to get it right," Town of Bethel supervisor Dan Strum told reporters this week.

Want to see the monument that weekend without tickets and a travel pass? You could catch the free shuttle bus to the monument that weekend. But a promotional flyer warns that shuttle passengers won't be able to stay much longer than a Grateful Dead jam.

"In order to give everyone a chance to make this pilgrimage," according to the flyer, "passengers will have a maximum of 30 minutes to spend at the monument per trip."

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CEO: Schools reject offer to pay students' late lunch bills

In this Friday, May 19, 2017 file photo, students line up for lunch at a middle school in Sandy, Utah. (Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP)
MARK SCOLFORO
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The president of a Pennsylvania school board whose district had warned parents behind on school lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care has rejected a CEO's offer to cover the cost, the businessman said Tuesday.

Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, said he offered to give Wyoming Valley West School District $22,000 to wipe out bills that generated the recent warning letter to parents.

But school board President Joseph Mazur rejected the offer during a phone conversation Monday, Carmichael spokesman Aren Platt said Tuesday. Mazur argued that money is owed by parents who can afford to pay, Platt said.

"The position of Mr. Carmichael is, irrespective of affluence, irrespective of need, he just wants to wipe away this debt," Platt said, noting the offer stands.

In this Nov. 30, 2017 photo, Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, speaks to the media in Philadelphia. ( AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Mazur did not return a phone message left at his home. Wyoming Valley West's solicitor, Charles Coslett, said he did not know what the school board plans to do.

"I don't know what my client's intention is at this point. That's the end of the line," Coslett said.

In a letter sent to papers in the Wilkes-Barre area on Monday, Carmichael said his offer was motivated in part because he received free meals as a child growing up near Spokane, Washington.

"I know what it means to be hungry," Carmichael wrote. "I know what it means to feel shame for not being able to afford food."

The letters from the school district warned parents that they "can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child's right to food," and that the children could be removed and placed in foster care.

Child welfare authorities have told the district that Luzerne County does not run its foster system that way.

Luzerne County's manager and child welfare agency director wrote to Superintendent Irvin DeRemer, demanding the district stop making what it called false claims. DeRemer has not returned messages in recent days.

In an editorial Tuesday, the Times-Tribune of Scranton called the threats shameful and an act of hubris. The paper urged lawmakers and the state Department of Education to "outlaw such outlandish conduct by law and regulation covering lunch debt collection."

The district's federal programs director, Joseph Muth, has said school officials considered serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to students with overdue accounts but received legal advice warning against it.

School district officials have said they planned other ways to get the lunch money, such as filing a district court complaint or placing liens on properties.

In the coming school year, Wyoming Valley West will qualify for funding to provide free lunches to all students.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Man claiming to be with water company talks his way inside 2 homes

(WTHR photo Rich Nye)
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GREENFIELD, Ind. (WTHR) — Residents at the Villas at Springhurst in Greenfield play dominoes on Monday and Friday afternoons at the Villas clubhouse. Two of their neighbors got played by a scam artist Tuesday afternoon.

"I don't like it, that's for sure,” said Nadine Schew, who has lived at the Villas almost two years. "I plan on being a lot more aware of who knocks on my door."

A man claiming to be with the Greenfield Water Utility talked his way inside two homes. He said he needed to check for low water pressure. Both women victims live alone in the senior independent living community. Both failed to ask the man for identification. After he left, they discovered jewelry missing from their homes.

Greenfield police say the man did not wear a uniform or have credentials. He is described as about 30 years old with dark, short hair in a tan polo shirt and jeans. Police say he stole rings worth over $10,000. Police hope to get photos of the jewelry and perhaps the stolen items will show up a local pawn shop.

"This is absolutely a scam artist from who knows where that is preying on an elderly community in this case," said Greenfield Police Department Detective Lieutenant Randy Ratliff.

The Greenfield Water Utility says all employees drive a marked city vehicle, wear a shirt with a utility logo and carry a city badge with their name and photo. They will also provide a card with contact information.

"My personnel as a usual practice will not enter a home unless it's absolutely necessary," said Greenfield Water Utility Manager Charles Gill. "Even then, it's very limited. A supervisor would typically be in attendance. But we can very easily, in most situations, check water pressure outside a residence, where we would not necessarily need to enter a home."

Police have no security video of the suspect or a vehicle description.

"It doesn't matter where they say they're from or what they say they're reasoning is for wanting to get into your villa, don't trust them if you don't know them," said Thomas Hunter, who has lived at the Villas at Springhurst over two years. "I keep my doors locked all the time whether I’m there or gone. I keep my blinds closed at all times. I have a dog and a 12-gauge shotgun."

Police have no other reports in Greenfield of someone trying to pull this scam.

Police offer some tips to avoid becoming the victim of a door-to-door scam:

  • Always ask for professional credentials: a name, the name of the business and contact information.
  • Call police if that person cannot provide that information.
  • Don't let anyone in your home who does not have an appointment.
  • Install security cameras where you can talk to the person without opening the door.

"Don't take a person at face value,” said Ratliff. "Look for the identifiers that identify that they're with whatever utility or company they say they're with. Ask for identification. If you're not comfortable with that person or the identification they provide, call the police department."

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