Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Builder's racketeering conviction upheld

Around the Tristate

MIDDLETOWN - An appeals court has upheld the racketeering conviction of a Kentucky man who prosecutors said defrauded customers and suppliers of more than $200,000 through his construction company.

William Hicks was convicted in May 2002 in Butler County Common Pleas Court of 21 counts of theft by deception and one count each of attempted theft by deception and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Hicks was sentenced to nine years in prison and is in the London Correctional Institution.

He also was ordered to repay about $111,000 to 18 customers, $100,000 to three supply companies and $67,500 to Firstar Bank.

Hicks appealed only the racketeering charge.

Hicks, 33, formerly of Florence, owned the now-defunct APF Construction. Prosecutors said the company sold pole barns in 2000 and 2001, collected 20 percent deposits and money for supplies, but never did the work.


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After 21 years, execution looms

CLEVELAND - Lewis Williams Jr. has spent nearly 21 years trying to stop the state from executing him.

His fight could end Wednesday when he is scheduled to die by lethal injection for shooting a 76-year-old woman in the face during a 1983 robbery.

Williams, 45, maintains he is innocent. Over the years, he also has contended that he's mentally retarded, had poor legal representation and that prosecutors trumped up trial testimony against him.

Williams' latest challenge contends that a drug used in lethal injections violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The victim, Leoma Chmielewski, was found dead in her east side Cleveland home on Jan. 21, 1983, her body beaten and blood seeping from the bullet hole in her head.

Gov. Bob Taft and the Ohio Parole Board have both rejected Williams' request for clemency.

Man wanted in Ky. arrested in Ohio

LEXINGTON - Police have arrested a fifth person in connection with the July shooting death of a Lincoln County, Ky., man.

Cincinnati police arrested 22-year-old William Douglas Doty III on Sunday. Doty has been charged with murder and first-degree robbery in the death of John A. Laswell, 39.

Laswell was found shot to death in his wife's car on July 10 outside a Lexington apartment complex.

Doty is in the Hamilton County jail and will be transferred to the Fayette County jail once extradition arrangements are complete.

Four others also have been charged in the case.

Drivers slow to embrace new bridge

ROCKPORT, Ind. - A new $70 million Ohio River bridge has carried much less traffic than expected during the first year since it opened, officials said.

The opening of the William H. Natcher Bridge in October 2002 also has done little so far to reduce traffic congestion in nearby Owensboro, Ky., said Keith Harpole, a transportation planner for Kentucky's Green River Area Development District.

Harpole said the latest traffic count, conducted in early 2003, showed 4,520 vehicles crossed the bridge during an average 24-hour period, far less than the 15,000 planners had anticipated.

One goal for the new four-lane bridge was to alleviate traffic problems on the two-lane bridge going into Owensboro.

Harpole said most maps did not yet show the Natcher bridge, about 30 miles east of Evansville.

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