Council passes smoking ban 

(Indianapolis)It has been a long time coming, but the Indianapolis City-County Council passed a citywide smoking ban Monday night, but not in time for the Super Bowl. The Council voted 19-9 to send the proposal to Mayor Greg Ballard for review. The ordinance would expand the city’s public smoking ban passed in 2005 to include bowling alleys, hotel rooms and most bars, while exempting cigar and hookah bars, tobacco shops and some private clubs. Also, children are prohibited from being in areas that have smoking, a clause that Mayor Ballard did not support. Meanwhile, a statewide smoking ban is currently being considered on the floor of the Indiana House. The House approved an 18-month exemption for bars Friday in a voice vote. House members are expected to vote this week on whether to approve the bill and send it to the Senate. 

House votes to remove student transportation fees 

(Indianapolis)  — State lawmakers yesterday voted 92-2 to ban districts from charging fees for transportation.  At issue was the action in Franklin Township with fees implemented ranging from a $47.50 bus transportation fee for one student and a $40.50 fee for each additional child for the year. District officials justified charging the fees due to voters who turned down a tax increase referendum to fund the buses last year. 

Sweep nets counterfeit football merchandise 

(Fort Wayne) A surprise sweep at a novelty store resulted in the seizure of fake NFL gear just days ahead of Super Bowl 46. Operation Fake Sweep, led by federal agents and homeland security investigators discovered more than 400 pieces of unlicensed NFL-related merchandise found in a store in a local mall. In Indianapolis, the city’s contract with the NFL only allows authorized stores, not street vendors, to sell authentic merchandise. At last year’s Super Bowl in Dallas, counterfeit merchandise valued at a total of nearly $4 million was seized by federal authorities. 

House votes to remove transportation fee 

(Indianapolis)  — State lawmakers yesterday voted 92-2 to ban districts from charging fees for transportation.  At issue was the action in Franklin Township with fees implemented ranging from a $47.50 bus transportation fee for one student and a $40.50 fee for each additional child for the year. District officials justified charging the fees due to voters who turned down a tax increase referendum to fund the buses last year. 

Jury set for trial of state official 

(Noblesville)  — Jury selection has begun in the criminal trial of Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White. White is facing seven felonies including voter fraud and perjury, stemming from allegations that he listed his ex-wife’s address on voter documents as his own in 2010 in order to continue collecting his salary as a Fishers town council member. White previously sought to have the charges dismissed, arguing that there were problems with the grand jury process that led to his indictment, but the judge denied that motion. If convicted of the charges, White will no longer be able to remain in his position as Indiana Secretary of State. Earlier this month, a Marion County judge ruled in a civil case against White that he can remain in office while he appeals an order removing him from the post. 

Hospital employee charged violating patient 

(Indianapolis) — A Wishard Memorial Hospital employee is facing charges this morning amid accusations of trafficking with an inmate. Folajuwoni Ajayi, 46, reportedly left a cell phone in a secured detention wing of the hospital that contained over 40-thousand photographs and 17 videos containing sexual material. Authorities said Ajayi tried to get his cell phone from the hospital after he discovered it was missing. Ajayi was arrested Monday evening at his home and has been charged with trafficking with an inmate, a Class C felony, and misdemeanor counts of voyeurism and battery. 

Prosecutor’s office announces sentencing choice in double murder 

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday that it will seek a sentence of life without parole for two men charged with a double murder. Michael Bell, 22, and Jeremy Priel, 25, were arrested after Jeremy Crane, 21 and his niece Kyleigh Crane, 7, were found dead in their Cumberland home in the 600 block of Woodlark Drive last December. Prosecutors say aggravating factors in the case, including that the killings occurred during the commission of a robbery and age of the little girl who died. In addition to the murder charges, the pair have been charged with robbery and carrying a handgun without a license. Police said Priel stole an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from the home and then sold them for $40 and an ounce of marijuana.

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