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

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Trial set for Greenpeace activists in P&G protest

CINCINNATI (AP) - A trial date has been set in October for eight of nine Greenpeace activists facing felony charges for an eye-catching protest at Procter & Gamble's headquarters in downtown Cincinnati.

The trial date for the activists was set for Oct. 27 in Hamilton County court on Thursday.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors say just one of the protesters expressed willingness to accept a plea agreement in the case to avoid prison time.

That man will be in court ahead of the trial to officially plead to the charges.

The activists are charged with burglary and vandalism for a March 4 protest in which they slipped into P&G and displayed huge banners from towers criticizing palm oil supplies used by the consumer products company that Greenpeace links to rainforest destruction.


Georgia woman charged in widespread tax fraud case

CLEVELAND (AP) - A Georgia woman has been charged in federal court in Cleveland for her role in submitting 2,750 fraudulent tax returns for people referred to her by ministers in Arkansas and Ohio.

The government says Zinara Highsmith and others filed tax returns in 2011 for mostly low-income people referred to her by the ministers, including one from Canton in northeastern Ohio.

Investigators say the returns falsely claimed $4.8 million in stimulus-type credits that were available in 2010, with Highsmith allegedly receiving $500,000.

The 35-year-old Highsmith, of Fayettville, Georgia, was charged Thursday by information with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The ministers are not named in the information.

Nearly 1,000 returns were filed for people who lived in northeastern Ohio.

Highsmith's public defender could not be immediately reached.


Fired band director says he fixing vulgar culture

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The fired Ohio State University marching band director says he was working to change its sexualized culture when he was dismissed.

Jonathan Waters detailed the changes he was trying to make in a seven-page document prepared when the university began investigating allegations of problems with the band. His attorney released the document Wednesday night.

The university fired Waters last week after a two-month investigation concluded he knew about but failed to stop rituals that included students being pressured to march in their underwear, sing lewd songs, and perform sexually themed stunts that yielded often-explicit nicknames.

Waters says he was taking steps to change the band's culture of inappropriate behavior and vulgarity.

Also Wednesday, the band's alumni association issued a statement supporting Waters.


Co-defendant testifies how Ohio teen was beaten

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio man who has already pleaded guilty to killing a 16-year-old boy last year testified that he and his co-defendant repeatedly beat the teen when he wouldn't give up his stash of money and drugs.

Michael Geldrich - who could be sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to charges including aggravated murder in Dione (DEE'-on) Payne's death - on Wednesday testified in the aggravated murder trial of 40-year-old Michael Watson in Lebanon.

Geldrich described how he and Watson planned to rob the teen drug dealer, then punched and kicked him unconscious. They dropped him at a hospital, and he later died.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News ( ) reports Watson's attorney maintains there was no intent to kill Payne and Watson is overcharged with the crime of aggravated murder.


Jury seated in Georgia peanut salmonella trial

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - A jury has been seated to hear the trial of three people charged in connection with a deadly salmonella outbreak traced to a southwest Georgia peanut plant five years ago.

The final panel of 12 jurors was selected Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Albany. Six alternates also were chosen. Attorneys were scheduled to make opening statements in the case later Thursday. The trial is expected to last at least two months.

Former Peanut Corp. of America owner Stewart Parnell; his brother and food broker, Michael Parnell; and the peanut plant's quality control manager, Mary Wilkerson, are charged with shipping tainted peanuts and covering up lab results showing nuts tested positive for salmonella.

Nine people died, including some Ohioans, and more than 700 were sickened in the outbreak.


Barricades to curb prostitution taken down

CINCINNATI (AP) - Police have removed temporary street barricades intended to help curb prostitution and related offenses in a section of Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Enquirer ( ) reports city officials say the effort was successful and city council members are expected to discuss the results next week.

The barricades put up at the end of April to interrupt high-frequency prostitution and related offenses in the McMicken Street corridor were taken down Thursday as planned.

Police said traditional law enforcement methods and community pressure hadn't reduced prostitution in that area.

The barricades at designated locations were intended to interrupt cruising by people who come to the area to engage prostitutes.

Some residents complained the barricades made life more difficult, especially in disrupting bus routes. Others say the barricades did what they were designed to do.


Supreme Court to hear sewer district lawsuit

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted an appeal by a northeastern Ohio sewer district that wants to charge property owners fees for managing storm water.

At issue is a program developed by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in 2010 that would raise about $35 million a year to spend on storm water management.

The sewer district was forced to stop collecting the fees last fall after a lower court sided with 11 cities in the district who argued that state law does not give the sewer district authority to impose the fees.

The storm water fees totaled about $57 a year for the average homeowner and more for businesses with bigger properties.

The court will hear arguments Sept. 9.


Pitcher arraigned on sexual assault charges

DETROIT (AP) - Minor league pitcher Evan Reed has been arraigned on charges of sexually assaulting a woman at a downtown Detroit hotel.

A not-guilty plea was entered Thursday for Reed, who appeared in court via video on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The 28-year-old right-hander plays for the Toledo Mud Hens, the Detroit Tigers' Triple-A club.

Prosecutors say the woman was assaulted after meeting Reed at a bar in the suburbs. His lawyer says Reed and the 45-year-old woman had consensual sex.

A preliminary examination is scheduled for Aug. 12.

Reed was with the Tigers when the alleged assault occurred on March 30, the eve of Opening Day.

He was 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA in 27 games for Detroit before being sent to Toledo in June.


Appeals court upholds conviction in pain pill case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the 15-year prison sentence of a Louisiana businessman for distributing oxycodone and methadone in eastern Kentucky illegally through pain clinic patients.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Thursday ruled that 48-year-old Michael Leman of Slidell, Louisiana, had raised no grounds to overturn the conviction.

A jury in Lexington convicted Leman in March 2012 of using pain clinics in three states to distribute medications to bogus patients in Kentucky's Appalachian region.

The court also upheld an order for Leman to pay $1 million in restitution to an agency handling crime victim compensation and one dealing with substance abuse.

Leman is housed at Forrest City Correctional Complex in Forrest City, Arkansas.


Manziel says he's battling playbook, Hoyer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Johnny Manziel says he's competing with more than Brian Hoyer in the competition to be Cleveland's starting quarterback.

Manziel said "it's really me versus the playbook right now." Following Thursday's practice, the rookie QB acknowledged he's had some ups and downs in his first week in training camp as he learns Cleveland's offense. Manziel, though, believes he's making some progress.

Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said there is no clear leader between Hoyer and Manziel. Shanahan is hoping one of the QBs takes off and makes the decision easier for Cleveland's coaching staff.

Hoyer said he's not worrying about his battle with Manziel as much as trying to make the Browns better.

Manziel has yet to work with Cleveland's first-string offense, but coach Mike Pettine said that will change soon.


Seattle gets OF Chris Denorfia from Padres

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Seattle Mariners have acquired veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia from the San Diego Padres for a pair of minor leaugers.

Seattle announced the deal about 90 minutes before baseball's non-waiver trade deadline Thursday. The Mariners sent outfielder Abraham Almonte, their opening day starter in center field, and right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen to the Padres. Almonte made the club out of spring training but lasted only 27 games before being optioned to the minors.

Denorfia, 34, was hitting .242 with one homer, 10 doubles and 16 RBIs in 89 games for the Padres. He's a career .275 hitter and last season hit .279 in 144 games for San Diego.

Denorfia also has the flexibility to play all three outfield positions, having at least 150 career starts at all three spots.

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