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Indians notes: Hafner overcomes inactivity

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

CLEVELAND – An extended stint out of the lineup would affect most hitters. Not Travis Hafner apparently.
After being saddled to the bench for nine straight games during a recent interleague road trip, Hafner, who was hot prior to the trip, picked up where he left off. Through the first two games of the homestand, the […]

Indians 3, Blue Jays 1: Tribe wins fourth straight

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

CLEVELAND – Aaron Laffey vs. Jesse Litsch.
Not exactly the makings of a pitching duel, but that’s how it played out Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
With both unheralded starters limiting the offensive production, it made for a low-hit and low-scoring affair that Laffey and the Indians got the better of in a 3-1 victory over the […]

Cavs on verge of hiring Byron Scott as coach

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

INDEPENDENCE –  In a sudden twist of events, the Cavaliers were Wednesday night on the verge of hiring Byron Scott as their next head coach.
A source confirmed the Cavaliers were hammering out contract details with Scott and agent Brian McInerney. An official announcement could come at any time, but will most likely occur on Thursday.
The […]

Indians 3, Blue Jays 1: Tribe wins fourth straight

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Aaron Laffey allowed just a run on five hits over six innings, helping the Indians to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
It was Cleveland’s fourth straight win, matching its season-high winning streak.
Matt LaPorta homered for the second time in two days.

Woman hurt in Tahoe-train accident identified

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

A woman was injured when her sport utility vehicle collided with a train this afternoon in York Township.

YORK TWP. — A township woman was injured when her Chevy Tahoe collided with a train Wednesday afternoon at Smith Road.

The driver of the Tahoe, Libby Forstner, 48, was listed in serious condition at Akron General Hospital, …Read More

Woman injured in Tahoe-train crash

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

A woman was injured when her sport utility vehicle collided with a train this afternoon in York Township. (Maria Kacik / Gazette)

YORK TWP. — A woman was injured when her Chevrolet Tahoe collided with a train this afternoon at Smith Road.

Ohio Highway Patrol troopers said the Tahoe was westbound on Smith and the train …Read More

18 arrested in Medina-area drug raids

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Authorities seized handguns, a shotgun and marijuana plants today from a home in Lafayette Township. (Kaitlin Bushinski / Gazette)

MEDINA — Medina police, in partnership with the Medina County Drug Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service, arrested 18 individuals today on drug-related charges and discovered an marijuana growth operation.

Police Chief Patrick Berarducci called Wednesday’s …Read More

Medina man arrested in wife’s death

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

MEDINA — Following a year’s investigation, police arrested Dennis K. Auerswald, 60, of 1296 Dover Drive, today in the poisoning death of his wife in February 2009.


Police allege Auerswald, a retired major in the U.S. Air Force, poisoned his wife, Maureen Kay Auerswald, 60, over a period of time.

Chief Patrick Berarducci declined to comment …Read More

Puerto Ricans targeted in massive ID theft schemes

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

puerto-rican-parade2By DANICA COTO (AP)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Born in a U.S. territory where he has lived all his life, Jose Marrero Rivera didn’t know his name and social security number were racking up thousands of dollars in unpaid charges in Chicago and Miami.

The snack bar worker is one of thousands of Puerto Ricans caught up in a lucrative document-fraud scheme to hide illegal immigrants in the United States. They’re American citizens with Hispanic surnames. And their records – kept loosely in schools or church rectories, where they are easy to steal – draw as much as $6,000 on the black market.

Only when police showed up at Marrero’s San Juan airport food stand to arrest him for car theft did he realize that identity thieves were upending his life.

“All the information, all of it, the driver’s license, the Social Security, my address, was mine,” he said of the warrant. “I was shocked. I told them simply that it wasn’t me.”

Documents stolen from Puerto Rico have shown up in fraud-ring busts in Delaware and Ohio and immigration raids on meatpacking plants from Texas to Florida. No government or law enforcement official can put a dollar amount on the illegal trade, but documents are so valuable that addicts on the island trade their own documents for drugs.

“Birth certificates have become legal tender,” said Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico’s secretary of state.

The island government’s only answer so far is to void every Puerto Rican birth certificate as of July 1 and require about 5 million people – including 1.4 million on the U.S. mainland – to reapply for new ones with security features. New birth certificates will be issued starting July 1, and all old birth certificates will be annulled by Sept. 30.

But no one can guarantee the mass inconvenience will solve the problem. Untold numbers of passports, driver’s licenses and other documents issued to holders of false birth certificates are still valid.

The law only aims to make it harder to get false documents in the future, but does nothing to target those already in circulation. And a person holding a stolen birth certificate could conceivably apply to receive one of the new ones, which will have special seals and be printed on counterfeit-proof paper – though they would have to present other personal data that they might not have, McClintock said.

“We had to take drastic measures,” he said. “The new law does not pretend to solve all the problems. What it aims to do is resolve the massive theft problem.”

The problem stems from the Puerto Rican tradition of requiring birth certificates to enroll in schools or join churches, sports team or other groups, which keep them in unsecured offices or drawers. The new law voiding all birth certificates prohibits such groups from keeping copies.

“I think people noticed that no one was paying attention to those documents,” said a Puerto Rico-based FBI agent on the cases, who requested anonymity because the agent works under cover. “In the future, this could be linked to everything, even terrorism. I don’t doubt that it could go that way.”

But the bulk of the business now is selling to people who are living and working illegally in the U.S.

The most valued package comes with a birth certificate, a Social Security card and a driver’s license – called a “tripleta” after Puerto Rico’s renown street sandwich stuffed with three types of meat, said Roberto Escobar of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Puerto Rico.

“They can custom order: ‘I need two children and five adults,’” the FBI agent added.

Identity-theft rings have been busted in Puerto Rico and several states, with one accused of stealing the data of 7,000 public school children after breaking into more than 50 island schools over two years. In another case, an employee with Puerto Rico’s Department of Motor Vehicles is accused of stealing 1,200 driver license renewal forms.

The new law comes at a time when Latinos are being increasingly scrutinized for their immigration status and deported in large numbers. It’s causing problems for some Puerto Ricans who say their birth certificates already have been rejected when they applied for driver’s licenses. Others have been required to answer questions about Puerto Rico to prove their citizenship, said Cesar Perales, president of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a civil rights group.

Some don’t know the answers because they have lived on the mainland so long.

“There’s now this cloud over Puerto Rican birth certificates,” Perales said. “The timing, it seems to me, could not have been worse.”

Under another law that takes effect in 2014, Puerto Ricans will have to obtain new driver’s licenses with higher security features. Currently, the island has five different types of driver’s licenses, which are sold for $100 to $150, said Puerto Rico police detective Jose Bejaran Mercado.

Carlos Morales, who lives with his family in Orlando, Fla., is among those who must reapply for a birth certificate.

Two years ago, someone filed a tax return using his Social Security number. Morales, who had been married for nearly 30 years, tried to explain why another woman claiming to be his wife filed the return.

“My wife even thought (I had) somebody else: ‘Who is this woman trying to get five grand?’” he recalled her asking.

Marrero, the airport food worker, avoided arrest for car theft because he didn’t match the police photo of the suspect. He reported a case of identity theft in 2004 after he applied for a loan to buy furniture and got turned down. But nothing happened in the six years since then – except that more people started using his information.

Besides stealing cars, people using his identity defaulted on loans in Miami and fell behind on credit-card payments in Chicago.

The 32-year-old married father of two called police a year after filing his identity-fraud complaint to ask about progress. He said local authorities were dismissive.

“They told me, ‘There are cases more important than that little case,’” he said.

Meanwhile, his credit has been ruined.

“They won’t even lend me money for an ice cream cone,” he said. “There’s a criminal who knows everything about my life, and I know nothing about his.”

Harry Potter fans love park drink: Got butterbeer?

June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

By BETH J. HARPAZ, AP Travel Editor

Got butterbeer?

Harry Potter fans are all abuzz about butterbeer, and they’ve got the foamy mustaches to prove it.

The cold and creamy, frothy drink is the most popular food item at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, according to Universal spokesman Tom Schroder, with visitors lining up to try it.

“Then they would walk around and have this mustache on,” said Sabrina Sampson, 11, of Richmond, Va., who described the drink as tasting “like cream soda. It was somewhat thick, and it was really sweet, and then it got salty as you swallowed it, like butterscotch.”

Schroder said that about half the visitors to The Wizarding World sample butterbeer.

“There may be no bigger product launch smash this year than butterbeer,” said.

“It’s interesting that one small thing they can sell for a few dollars is getting as much attention as the rides,” said Gabe Travers, who reviewed the park for, the NBC affiliate in the Orlando area.

Park guests Jillian Woodworth, left and Steven Hopke try out Butterbeer at the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla. (AP photo.)

Park guests Jillian Woodworth, left and Steven Hopke try out Butterbeer at the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla. (AP photo.)

Immediately after The Wizarding World’s June 18 opening, butterbeer was one of the most searched-for terms on the Internet. A butterbeer recipe on got 3,445 hits when the park opened, up from an average 350 daily views before the opening, according to spokesman Andrew Sims. Now the recipe is averaging 1,200 daily views.

Even, a site for fans of Disney World, has a separate thread for comments related to Universal’s butterbeer.

Universal would not release its butterbeer recipe, but press materials describe the drink as “reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.”

In the Harry Potter books, butterbeer appears to have an inebriating effect, and some older online recipes include butterscotch schnapps, but the Universal version is nonalcoholic. In Bon Appetit’s January 2002 issue, author J.K. Rowling was asked what butterbeer tastes like, and she said: “I made it up. I imagine it to taste a little bit like less sickly butterscotch.”

The version sold at The Wizarding World was tasted and approved by Rowling herself.

“Everyone knows butterbeer was approved by J.K. Rowling, so people want to taste it and see if their tastebuds match up,” said Travers.

Visitors to the park see a large wooden barrel that bears the word “BUTTERBEER” as soon as they enter, and they can buy it from a street cart and inside The Three Broomsticks restaurant and Hog’s Head pub.

Butterbeer is sold in two varieties, regular and frozen, but many people buy both. “There are some two-fisted butterbeer moments happening,” said Schroder. The consensus among online fans appears to be that the frozen version is more delicious.

The drink is drawn from a tap, like a beer, and the dense, whipped topping is added from a separate tap. It’s served in cups, about $3 ($4 for frozen) for a disposable cup and about $10 ($11 for frozen) for a hard plastic souvenir stein.

Travers said if he were trying to make the drink at home, he’d “start with a good cream soda.” The hard part, he said, would be the topping: “It tastes like a Werther’s caramel candy but the foam had the consistency of a dairy or latte type of foam. It’s pretty dense; it floats on top.”

Robert Lima of Warwick, R.I., who says he still loves “all that is Harry Potter” even though he’s 24 years old, tried butterbeer a week after the park opened and described it as “frosty magical goodness!”

But Sabrina Sampson had one small reservation: “It was too sweet to chug down, but it was good for the first five sips or so.”