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POSTED August 21, 2014 10:09 p.m.

EX-JUDGE MUST SAY SHE’S SORRY, JUST NOT IN CUFFS: HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice convicted of corruption was spared on Thursday the further embarrassment of having to write her court-ordered apologies to every judge in the state on photos of herself in handcuffs.

A state appeals court upheld the conviction of Joan Orie Melvin and said she still must write apologies to the state’s judges. But it found the photo requirement served no legitimate purpose and was meant only to “shame and humiliate her.”

Melvin was convicted of theft, conspiracy and other charges in 2013 for using court staff and other public workers to aid her campaigns for a seat on the court.

A judge ordered the handcuff picture taken after she was sentenced to three years of house arrest.

Referring to the requirement the apologies be written on the photo, the court panel wrote that “in no sense can this unorthodox gimmick be construed as legitimately intended for her rehabilitation.”

“This condition was not imposed to promote her rehabilitation, but rather merely to shame and humiliate her in the eyes of her former colleagues in the judiciary,” the court wrote.

Melvin’s attorney said the former judge is disappointed in the overall ruling and is evaluating the decision, but would not comment further. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

Melvin had argued the required letters would violate her right against self-incrimination and state sentencing rules. The appeals court found the photo requirement was a punitive sanction not allowed under Pennsylvania’s sentencing codeIn addition to house arrest, her sentence included a fine, work in a soup kitchen and the letters to about a thousand judges as well as members of her former staff who did illegal work for her at her behest. The photo requirement did not extend to the letters to be written to staff members.

 

MAN CHARGED WITH LEAVING 3 KIDS IN CAR OUTSIDE BAR: OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Police say a Florida man is accused of leaving his three children in a car for hours outside a bar while he got drunk inside.

A police report says an officer found 28-year-old Joshua Delong outside of Dr. B’s bar in Ocala just after 2 a.m. Thursday with a bleeding head. A security guard told officers that an angry patron punched Delong before he was arrested on child endangerment charges.

Witnesses told police that Delong left his children ages 5, 7 and 8 in a gold Cadillac parked outside while he drank at the bar.

Police say the kids were honking the horn and calling for “daddy” and that the bar’s security guard eventually called police when he tried to drive away with the kids.

 

OF 163 ARRESTS SINCE SHOOTING, 7 FROM FERGUSON: FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Police records show that 163 arrests have been made in the Ferguson protest zone since the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, but just seven are residents of the St. Louis suburb.

Brown was killed Aug. 9 by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, spurring widespread protests, along with some rioting and looting.

St. Louis County spokeswoman Candace Jarrett provided information to The Associated Press on Thursday with the name, address and birth year of each person arrested, and the charges against them.

It shows that 128 people have been arrested for failure to disperse, 21 for burglary-related charges, four for assaulting police officers. Others were charged with crimes such as trespassing, peace disturbance and destruction of private property.

 

JURY: WOMAN DOWNLOADED CHILD PORN TO FRAME HUSBAND: INDIANA, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman has been found guilty of downloading child pornography in a failed attempt to frame her estranged husband.

Meri Jane Woods, of Clymer, was convicted Wednesday in Indiana County.

District Attorney Patrick Dougherty says the 43-year-old Woods downloaded 40 images to the family computer, took it to police last August and blamed Matthew Woods for the material.

But when police examined time stamps, they determined the images had been downloaded more than two weeks after Meri Woods had her husband kicked out of their home with a protection-from-abuse order.

Woods’ attorney had argued the time stamps were unreliable.

The Indiana Gazette says Woods faces up to nine years in prison when she’s sentenced Dec. 15. She may also have to register as a Megan’s Law offender.

 

378 PEOPLE ‘PAY IT FORWARD’ AT FLA. STARBUCKS: ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A woman started an act of kindness chain that lasted for hours at a Starbucks drive-thru in Florida.

She ordered an iced coffee around 7 a.m. Wednesday in St. Petersburg and asked to pay for the caramel macchiato for the stranger in the car behind her. He returned the favor. The chain kept going as employees began keeping count.

The Tampa Bay Times (http://bit.ly/1ndJ16p) reports the chain finally ended around 6 p.m. when customer number 379 pulled up and ordered a regular coffee. Barista Vu Nguyen leaned out the window and explained the chain that started earlier in the day, asking if she’d like to participate. She declined, saying she only wanted to pay for her coffee.

Nguyen says he doesn’t believe she understood the concept of paying it forward.

 

POLICE: COUPLE USED DOG TO LURE 2 AMISH GIRLS: FOWLER, N.Y. (AP) — A northern New York couple used a dog to lure two Amish sisters from their family farm stand with a plan to turn them into slaves, an investigator said Thursday.

Nicole Vaisey admitted she and her boyfriend, Stephen Howells Jr., got the girls to their car with an offer to pet the dog and he shoved the 7-year-old and 12-year-old sisters in, St. Lawrence County Sherriff’s Sgt. Brooks Bigwarfe said.

Bigwarfe said she told him they shackled the girls and intended to turn them into slaves. He said they released the girls about 24 hours later, frightened by news reports.

District Attorney Mary Rain said the children were sexually abused by the “sexual predators.”

 

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