The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 14, 2013

Judge tells prisoner to head south upon release

EBENSBURG — A Louisiana man who came to the Johns­town area to be with a woman he met on the Internet might be better off heading back down South after his sentence is served, a Cambria County judge said.

Akeem Rhine, 19, whose address was once listed as the 300 block of Mar­ket Street in Johnstown, was sentenced recently to nine to 23 months in the Cambria County Prison on a guilty plea. He was given credit for time served.

The sentence came with the admonition from Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming that Rhine should leave the area.

“I want you to go back to your home,” she told him.

Rhine has had a series of run-ins with police, including charges in April that he set fire to a woman’s hair in the bathroom of an apartment at Joseph Johns Towers downtown.

The month before that, Rhine was at the Cambria County courthouse for a protection from abuse hearing when he escaped from sheriff’s deputies and tried to jump down the stairway opening from the third floor to the second floor.

Rhine fell, then jumped to the first floor, where he was restrained by deputies and then taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown for injuries to the upper part of his body.

“You injured not only yourself, but you injured the law enforcement officers who were attempting to return you to the holding cell,” Fleming told Rhine. “You placed a whole lot of people in potential danger.”

Kenneth Sottile of the Cambria County Public Defender’s Office told the judge that Rhine had expressed an interest in going back to his family.

But the record shows that has already been tried without success.

Rhine previously was sent back to Louisiana via a bus ticket paid for by Cambria County taxpayers.

He returned to this area, apparently for the same woman he met on the Internet.

Court officials described the relationship as not working too well.

“We gave you a bus ticket once,” Fleming told Rhine, adding that in light of the county’s financial condition, she will not request a second one.

“Your family must provide the bus ticket,” she said.

She ordered Rhine to have no contact with the victim.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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