April 7th, 2010, 06:28 PM
Paid leave? That's like giving them a paid vacation.
Originally Posted by 12-Ringer
Treestands don't demand, treestands don't complain, treestands simply ask me to sit down and listen.
April 7th, 2010, 06:29 PM
I'm so proud to live in Brown County
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April 7th, 2010, 09:21 PM
Not if its done right. Paid leave pending outcome of investigation. Since they are still getting paid they can be told what to do. Their job becomes.....stay home...do not go go the store....do not mow the lawn...etc. If you are at work you cant go the store without getting in trouble, you cant go home an dmow your lawn, etc. Nothing less should be expected just because they are assigned to stay home.
Originally Posted by IA Monsterbuck
It becomes house arrest ......after two weeks most people, especially outdoors people will be going nuts.....
When the investigation is over then fire them. Or the state can just skip any part of finding them guilty and just fire them and take their chances when they file a lawsuit for being fired without due cause and the state will have to show what proof they have they are guilty. In the long run with most public employees its simpler and cheaper to just suspend with pay then fire them after you have solid proof. that can be quick to get or slow but law enforcement cant use a disciline investigation in court and vice versa. They have different rules of engaggement.
April 7th, 2010, 10:17 PM
ttt - this is bull$#!t
April 8th, 2010, 06:57 AM
Indicted Wildlife employees placed on paid leave.
It has also been found that South Carolina Officer Vaughn killed 2 does and a button buck in Ohio on his illegal resident license. But the Ohio WIldlife officer Wright checked them in for him. ALso illegal.. Wright said he used his badge number (1582) in the location reserved for the check station number and check county on the harvest report.
The investigation has also revealed another individual, Michigan resident John D. Coffin, had also obtained an Ohio resident hunting license in 2001 using Wright’s home address. Mr. Coffin is an acquaintance of Wright’s but is not a Wildlife Officer.
Wright has also been under investigation in SC by the USFWS after illegal trapping complaints by a Cnfidential Informant..
Miller, Ward-Tackett and Haines agreed to classify Wright’s action as “failure of good
behavior,” for which he would receive a verbal reprimand. Chief Graham agreed with the group recommendation. Assistant Chief Miller said he did not feel Wright’s action should be classified under the dishonesty category because Wright “didn’t willfully set out to do that.” Miller added that Wright claimed he talked to his supervisor and was told that it was okay.
Full IG report can be found here.
April 8th, 2010, 12:00 PM
If it is as you have said society will be the loser. No infringement on freedom goes unanswered, eventually. Can't remember where I read it but a guy that wrote over a hundred history books covering many centuries of many different governments noticed that when the people revolt they target 3 groups first regardless of whether the action was justified or not. These people who have placed themselves above the law are among that group of 3. Interestingly enough clergy were also among the 3. It's no coincidence that the Pope/ Roman Catholic Church occupies so much of the news these days. The third group were judges that let those who put themselves above the law get away with it. Just saying what I've read and history has played out over and over. Don't shoot the messenger.
Originally Posted by joelife
When one person abuses another government is born, the greater the abuse the more it grows!
April 8th, 2010, 04:31 PM
What you are describing does sound like house arrest which I don't believe the DNR would have the power to order. Placing them on paid leave does not give them the authority to order them to stay in their homes.
Originally Posted by bass.deer
As far as going nuts, well between honey do lists, hunting gear maint & organization, and of course the Outdoor Channel and a big pile of hunting videos I doubt I would find the time to get bored.
House arrest during hunting season, now THAT would be punishment.
Treestands don't demand, treestands don't complain, treestands simply ask me to sit down and listen.
April 8th, 2010, 05:16 PM
Sounds like the original warden struck a deal and got immunity and is probably going to testify against the higher ups. Classsic example of working a case from the ground up to catch the real "big fish".
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April 9th, 2010, 11:29 AM
SC DNR Officer Eric Vaughn willfully falsified an official document by signing his license. Officer Vaughn is not now, nor has he ever been, a resident of Ohio.
A records check of hunting licenses issued to Eric Vaughn in Ohio revealed that in 2006, Vaughn was issued an Ohio resident hunting license, which listed his home address as the home address of Allan Wright. The fee for a resident hunting license is $19, while the nonresident license is $125.00
The Ohio Division of Wildlife receives no taxpayer or General Revenue Funds (“GRF”), but is funded through revenue from license and permit fees. So because of Vaughn's actions your fund was fraudulently compromised.
A “resident” is a person who has resided in the state of Ohio “not less than six months next preceding the date of making application for a license.”2 All others are considered “nonresidents” and must purchase nonresident licenses.
The ODNR Wildlife hunting license application form clearly states that “providing fraudulent information is a violation of 2921.13 of the Ohio Revised Code.” A violation of this section is classified as a misdemeanor of the first degree.
"Ohio Revised Code section 2921.13A (5) Falsification; states “no person shall knowingly make a false statement, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when any of the following apply:… the statement is made with purpose to secure the issuance by a governmental agency of a license, permit, authorization, certificate, registration, release, or provider agreement.”
Wright admitted he was friends with SCDNR Officer Eric Vaughn, and that he had assisted Vaughn with obtaining an Ohio resident hunting license in
2006 during a hunting trip in Ohio.
On July 30, 2008, USFWS reported to the Ohio Wildlife Law Enforcement Executive Administrator that they found no evidence of misconduct by the USFWS officer. The USFWS report included Wright’s admission of assisting Vaughn in obtaining the Ohio resident license.
Wright admitted that he assisted Vaughn in obtaining a fraudulent resident hunting license by advising Vaughn to use his (Wright’s) home address as his own.
Wright also admitted checking in the three deer killed by Vaughn. Wright knowingly recorded a false address for Vaughn on the harvest report when he listed his address as Vaughn’s.
An ODNR Customer Purchase History query of Wright’s home address revealed Vaughn used Wright’s address in 2006, but listed his own South Carolina address on a 2007 hunting license.
As part of this OIG investigation, a Customer Purchase History query of ODNR records was done to search for any other Wildlife officer’s home address being used by others. All resident hunting licenses sold from January 1, 2006 to December 12, 2006 (308,592 records) were
Eric Vaughn had the only record that did not have the same family name of the residence, and that had a previous or subsequent out-of-state address.
We found that Ohio Wildlife Officer Allan Wright admitted his part in obtaining a resident hunting license for his friend, South Carolina Wildlife Officer Eric Vaughn. It was Officer Wright’s idea to put his home address on Vaughn’s hunting license application to facilitate Vaughn receiving a resident hunting license. This act resulted in producing a fraudulent hunting
license and deprived Wildlife of additional revenue.
Providing fraudulent information on a hunting license application is a violation of the Ohio Revised Code, which is clearly stated on the
hunting license application.
April 9th, 2010, 04:06 PM
With all that said the ODNR officer gets a free paid vacation off via our licence money for comitting fraud multiple times.
April 10th, 2010, 09:56 AM
Indicted wildlife officials have pre-trial hearing set
The six Ohio Division of Wildlife officials each have up-coming pre-trial hearings set for the Brown County Common Pleas Court before judge Scott Gosweiler.
Each official is charged with felony indictments and also with a misdemeanor charge in the case of one defendant, their arraignments having been April 5.
Allan Wright - the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - will appear for his pre-trial hearing at 2 p.m., April 21.
Assistant wildlife division chief Randy Miller, Wildlife Division law enforcement administrator James Lehman, Wildlife District 5 (southwest Ohio) director Todd Haines, and the agency's human resources manager Michele Ward-Tackett all are scheduled to appear at 11 a.m., April 21.
David Graham - the Wildlife Division's chief - has his pre-trial hearing set for 8:30 a.m., April 27.
A pre-trial hearing is designed for the exchange of information between the county prosecutor and the defendants' attorneys. Often a second pre-trial hearing is held as well, a Brown County Common Pleas Court official said Thursday.
Pending the outcome of their legal matters each defendant was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources director Sean Logan.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
April 10th, 2010, 10:24 AM
GEORGETOWN – Six Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife employees are facing felony charges related to the alleged falsification of an address on a hunting permit.
Brown County Wildlife Officer Allan Wright is accused of allowing South Carolina resident Eric Vaughn to use Wright’s home address on an application for a hunting permit in November of 2006. According to the State of Ohio Office of the Inspector General, records indicate that Vaughn paid $19 for a residential hunting permit, rather than the $125 fee that out-of-state hunters are typically required to pay.
Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General found that Wright personally checked in three deer killed by Vaughn and allegedly recorded his own home address on the tags.
Wright has served as an officer with the Division off Wildlife since May 17, 1993, according to an ODNR spokesperson.
During investigations by multiple agencies into the incident, Wright allegedly admitted to investigators that he suggested substituting his own address to Vaughn and assisted with obtaining the license, although he claimed that it has been common practice in Ohio to allow Wildlife Officers from other states to hunt with residential licenses, according to a report released by the OIG.
Vaughn was a Wildlife Officer in South Carolina and a resident of that state at the time the license was issued.
Last week Wright was indicted for two counts of tampering with records and one count of falsification. The record tampering charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and the falsification count is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of six months in the Brown County Detention Center, according to Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little.
In addition to Wright, five other ODNR Division of Wildlife employees - all in supervisory positions - have each been charged with two fifth-degree felony counts because they allegedly failed to initiate a criminal investigation once allegations against Wright became known to the Division. Division of Wildlife Chief David Graham, Assistant Chief Randy Miller, Law Enforcement Administrator James Lehman, District 5 Manager Todd Haines and Human Resources Administrator Michele Ward-Tackett have each been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and complicity to obstructing justice. Each defendant could face a maximum of 12 months in prison in addition to fines on each count.
All six defendants were summoned to appear for arraignment Monday in Brown County Court of Common Pleas, and each defendant was released on a $10,000 own-recognizance bond after the hearing.
All six individuals were still on the job as of Monday, according to a spokesperson for the Division of Wildlife. Mike Shelton, Chief of the ODNR Office of External Affairs, said the Department is working in cooperation with the Office of the Inspector General to determine if further training or personnel changes will be necessary, but no decisions have been finalized concerning the employees.
It is Shelton’s understanding that a felony conviction would lead to termination of employment for the defendants.
The OIG launched an investigation into the allegations in September of 2009 after receiving a complaint from a confidential informant. During the course of the inquiry, investigators with the Inspector General’s office discovered that the Division of Wildlife had already conducted an internal investigation of the complaint in 2008.
After the 2008 investigation, the Division of Wildlife administrators concluded that Wright’s actions constituted a “failure of good behavior” violation of the Division’s administrative policy. Wright was issued a verbal reprimand but no criminal charges were filed.
“Wildlife administrators said that they never recognized or considered Wright’s actions could be criminal, and decided to handle the matter as a policy violation,” the OIG’s report states.
The Inspector General’s report indicates Wright’s assertions that allowing out-of-state Wildlife Officers to purchase in-state licenses was considered, but never verified by the administrators who conducted the Department of Wildlife investigation. The lack of verification and the administrators’ failure to pursue criminal charges, including forwarding the complaint to appropriate supervisors as required by policies established by ODNR and Governor Ted Strickland, led to the charges against the administrators.
“We determined in this case that Wildlife Administrators ignored the criminal violation of falsification and decided to handle the violation with an administrative investigation,” said OIG investigators in the report. “The investigation was incomplete because the claim that it was common practice to aid nonresidents in obtaining resident hunting licenses, and it was done with supervisor approval or knowledge, was not verified.”
“We find Wildlife Officer Wright committed an act of wrongdoing. We also find that Wildlife administrators committed wrongful acts or omissions by failing to properly investigate Officer Wright. Wildlife decided to handle the matter as a policy violation, rather than a potential criminal violation.”
The OIG did find, however, that Graham issued a memo on March 14, 2008, prohibiting Wildlife personnel from accepting out-of-state hunting licenses. Graham issued another memo on Oct. 1, 2008 prohibiting the issuance of in-state licenses to out-of-state residents.
Although Wright allegedly told investigators that “it has been common practice that in the southwest part of Ohio, officers from Kentucky and Indiana would hunt in Ohio using resident Ohio Licenses,” OIG was unable to find evidence that such a policy existed.
OIG’s investigators searched all records of hunting licenses listing a Wildlife Officer’s home address during 2006 and concluded that “Eric Vaughn had the only record that did not have the same family name of the residence, and that had a previous or subsequent out-of-state address.”
The report continues: “The results of this query demonstrate that other Wildlife officers are not making a common practice of allowing nonresidents to use officers’ addresses to obtain a resident hunting license.”
Additionally, Wright allegedly made several statements to investigators indicating that the courtesy was reserved only for wildlife officers. However, an ODNR Purchase History query of Wright’s home address revealed that Michigan resident John D. Coffin had obtained an Ohio hunting license using Wright’s address in 2001. The OIG investigators found that Coffin is an acquaintance of Wright, but is not a Wildlife Officer.
Furthermore, even if such a policy existed, the OIG investigators found that such a policy would not excuse the deliberate falsification of information on a hunting license application.
Hunting licenses are required of anyone who hunts or traps legal game in Ohio. Although hunting license applicants are not required to show proof of identification or residency, and although the information provided by applicants is not routinely verified, “the application form clearly states that ‘providing fraudulent information is a violation of 2921.13 of the Ohio Revised Code,’” according to the OIG’s report.
“Regardless, whether a policy existed at the time or not, Wright’s actions constituted criminal activity, and Wildlife should have investigated it as a criminal matter,” the OIG’s report states.
License and permit fees are the main source of funding for the Division of Wildlife, which does not directly receive taxpayer or General Revenue funds.
During interviews with Graham, Miller, Lehman, Haines and Ward-Tackett, each individual allegedly admitted to investigators that Wildlife would pursue criminal charges against any civilian who obtained or attempted to obtain a hunting license using fraudulent information.
According to Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little, “regular people are prosecuted routinely for the exact same offense.”
“Just because you are a law enforcement officer does not make you special,” she said.
Little noted that her office does not currently intend to pursue charges related to the 2001 issuance of a resident license to Michigan resident John D. Coffin, in part because statute of limitations restrictions may apply.
As part of the investigation, the OIG also looked into allegations that the Division of Wildlife administrators instructed officers not to assist or cooperate with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation. The OIG found those allegations were not substantiated.
Following its inquiry, the Office of the Inspector General forwarded recommendations to ODNR suggesting updates to the department’s Suspected Illegal Activities Policy to Mirror the Governor’s Procedures for Notification of Employee Wrongdoing and/or Suspected Illegal Activity, specifically suggesting that ODNR policy should require all suspected illegal activity be reported immediately to the Director or Chief Legal Council of ODNR.
The Inspector General’s Office additionally recommended ODNR internally review the actions of all employees involved to determined whether their conduct warrants further administrative action or training.
The defendants are scheduled to appear in Brown County Court of Common Pleas on April 21.
The Office of the Inspector General’s report is available online at watchdog.ohio.gov.
April 10th, 2010, 11:15 AM
To all Ohio sportsmen: I am a fellow sportsman and also a law enforcement officer in this wonderful state of Ohio. I have personally worked with the majority of our Wildlife Officers in NW Ohio and many from other districts. These are good guys who do a great job with the heavy responsibilities placed upon them.
I'm not just saying this because I'm friends with most of them. I say this because I've experienced their job first hand. They rely on public information more than anything. As it has already been mentioned, there is only one officer per county, not including supervisors and investigators.
Don't let the stupidity of one officer and his management diminish your respect for your local officers and the job they are doing...
April 11th, 2010, 10:41 AM
April 11th, 2010, 11:44 AM
It is illegal to perform online transactions on behalf of another person. Providing fraudulent information is a violation of 2921.13 of the Ohio Revised Code.
April 11th, 2010, 12:07 PM
South Carolina DNR Officer Eric Vaughn, according to the licensing info, provided fraudulent information to obtain his non-resident Ohio license. Therefore under 2921.13 Ohio Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree under section, (F)(1) below!
Of all the information and articles on the net and in the Court, I am not able to find any charges filed against Vaughn! I ASK WHY???
(A) No person shall knowingly make a false statement, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when any of the following applies:
(A)(5) The statement is made with purpose to secure the issuance by a governmental agency of a license, permit, authorization, certification, registration, release, or provider agreement.
(F)(1) Whoever violates division (A)(1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(6),(7) ,(8),(10),(11),(13), or (15) of this section is guilty of falsification, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
April 11th, 2010, 02:15 PM
Looks like if South Carolina D.N.R. Officer Eric Vaughn fishes, he also violated South Carolina law!
(B) It is unlawful to obtain, attempt to obtain, or possess a South Carolina resident saltwater license while licensed for any purpose as a resident of another state.
South Carolina Code of Laws
SECTION 50-5-305. Requirements for obtaining resident license; penalty.
(A) To be granted a resident commercial saltwater license authorized under this chapter:
(1) an applicant must present a statement from the South Carolina Department of Revenue indicating the applicant filed a South Carolina income tax form as a resident for the previous calendar year, but a person under the age of seventeen is exempt from the requirement to provide such statement; or
(2) an applicant who did not file a South Carolina personal income tax form for the previous year must show documentation acceptable to the department proving the applicant was a resident of South Carolina for twelve consecutive months immediately prior to the date of application.
The applicant must also present an additional form of identification acceptable to the department.
(B) It is unlawful to obtain, attempt to obtain, or possess a South Carolina resident saltwater license while licensed for any purpose as a resident of another state.
(C) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days and must have his saltwater privileges suspended for twelve months.
April 11th, 2010, 04:00 PM
South Carolina Game Warden chimes in on Ohio controversy. Makes statement "here is a hint- the entire Code of SC Laws contain laws WE ALLLLLL "COULD HAVE" violated"
Originally Posted by tradorion
April 11th, 2010, 06:12 PM
As someone who's come to appreciate history I'm interested in the begining of things. I like to see the first step a lost person makes, helps to avoid doing the same. I'd rather not find myself way down the road to being lost when it could've been avoided long before. What could've prevent this from happening?
Originally Posted by jci63
This country has been on a crusade to remove God from public life, the people have supported it. I believe that is the first step. People think of God as bringing down upon man plagues, what if God prevents them and only if He does do they stay in check? Remove God and the people remove the wall that prevents corruption. Those in positions of power convinced the people to remove God, wonder why?
April 13th, 2010, 10:25 AM
Top Ohio wildlife officials indicted
By Frank Hinchey
Monday, April 12, 2010 1:31 PM CDT
Georgetown, Ohio – The chief of the DNR Division of Wildlife, an assistant chief and four other DOW officials were placed on paid administrative leave after being indicted on felony charges.
Five employees are accused of failure to pursue a criminal investigation of a wildlife officer charged with assisting a South Carolina wildlife officer to purchase a $19 Ohio resident hunting license instead of a $125 out-of-state license.
Indictments of obstruction of justice and complicity to obstruction of justice were returned April 2 in Brown County against DOW Chief David Graham, Assistant Chief Randy Miller, Law Enforcement Administrator James Lehman, Human Resources Administrator Michele Ward-Tackett, and District 5 Manager Todd Haines. The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Wildlife Officer Allan Wright was charged with three felony counts of tampering with records and a misdemeanor count of falsification. The felony counts carry a maximum penalty of up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Wright admitted to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife investigator he allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use Wright's home address in 2006 on a Ohio resident hunting application. Providing fraudulent information on a hunting application is a first-degree misdemeanor. Wright later admitted to a DOW investigator he checked three deer killed by Eric Vaughn in Ohio and recorded his own Ohio address and badge number on the harvest reports.
All six employees of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources pleaded not guilty to the charges April 5 in Brown County Common Pleas Court. The were placed on paid leave two days later, said Mark Shelton, ODNR chief of external services.
“The public service provided by Division of Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources are not going to suffer while these personnel investigations go forward,” Shelton said. A felony conviction prohibits a person from state employment and loss of a state pension, Shelton said.
Graham, addressing the Ohio Wildlife Council in early April, echoed that sentiment, calling these “extraordinary circumstances.”
“I want to assure Wildlife Council that the Division staff is strong and capable and has the support of the director,” he said.
DOW Assistant Chief Jim Marshall will serve as acting director while the court cases are pending, Shelton said.
“It smells bad the farther up you go,” Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little said. “If you see a crime you should report it.”
The governor's office and watchdog unit should be commended for its four-month investigation, Little said.
The 17-page Inspector General’s investigative report found Wright admitted his role in obtaining an Ohio resident hunting license for a friend, Vaughn. The IG concluded “DOW administrators failed to investigate the deception as a criminal matter.”
Wright claimed the practice of granting resident hunting licenses to out-of-state-wildlife officers was a common courtesy acknowledged by DOW officials, according to the IG report. IG investigators have since found no evidence the DOW officials attempted to verify if such a practice existed during an administrative and disciplinary investigation of Wright in 2008.
Graham, Miller, Ward-Tackett and Haines told the IG they did not regard Wright’s actions as criminal because the practice of obtaining Ohio hunting licenses for out-of-state wildlife officers was a common practice and supervisors had knowledge or approved the practice. They also acknowledged to the IG if a civilian provided fraudulent information on a hunting license, criminal charges would be pursued against the individual.
In 1996, the Ohio DOW granted several requests for complimentary hunting and fishing licenses to West Virginia and Kentucky wildlife employees and, in turn, the West Virginia Department of Fish and Wildlife Services granted requests for complimentary hunting and fishing licenses from the Ohio DOW, according to documents obtained by Ohio Outdoor News.
IG investigators for the state watchdog checked all 308,592 Ohio hunting licenses issued in 2006 and compared addresses to Ohio’s 155 wildlife officers.
Vaughn “had the only record that did not have the same family name of the residence, and that had a previous or subsequent out-of-state address,” the OIG report stated. “The results of this query demonstrate that other wildlife officers are not making a common practice of allowing nonresidents to use officers' addresses to obtain a resident hunting license.”
The IG found that Wright also used his own address to assist an acquaintance, John Coffin of Michigan, obtain an Ohio hunting license in 2001.
Because Coffin is not a wildlife officer, this conflicted with Wright's assertion to investigators that granting resident licenses to out-of-state wildlife officers, especially Indiana and Kentucky, was common DOW courtesy, the IG report stated.
Vaughn reimbursed Ohio for the license fee difference, said Col. Alvin Taylor, director of the South Carolina DNR law enforcement division. Taylor described Vaughn as a good officer who was not aware he had done anything wrong while hunting in Ohio.
The South Carolina DNR investigated Wright in 2007 for alleged trapping violations in South Carolina and issued Wright a warning letter for failure to comply with administrative reporting procedures, Taylor said. In addition, a federal wildlife investigator interviewed Wright on a complaint about alleged misconduct by an FWS officer.
During the South Carolina investigation, Wright admitted to the federal investigator he helped Vaughn obtain an Ohio resident hunting license in 2006. The federal investigator's findings were sent to the Ohio DOW, which investigated in 2008 and found no criminal wrongdoing.
Tackett agreed to classify Wright’s actions as “failure of good behavior” requiring a verbal reprimand, the IG report stated. Graham agreed with the recommendation, and Miller felt Wright's action was not dishonest because Wright “didn’t willfully set out to do that,” according to the IG report.
“It is unclear how Wildlife could proceed with an administrative investigation and discipline if, at the time of the offense, there was no policy prohibiting Wright from taking part in providing a resident license to a nonresident,” the IG report concluded.
In March 2008, Graham issued a memo requiring Ohio DOW employees to purchase out-of-state license when hunting outside the Buckeye state.
“Any person purchasing a resident license will be held personally and professionally responsible for their actions,” Graham wrote in the memo.
Graham issued a second memo seven months later that out-of-state wildlife employees hunting and fishing in Ohio “must follow the same guidelines, rules and regulations as any other out-of-state patrons.”
April 17th, 2010, 10:40 PM
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Attorney for indicted Wildlife Division official defends client
The attorney handling one of the six indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials is baffled by the charges brought against his client.
Attorney Michael Cassity of Mount Orab in Brown County is representing James Lehman, the Wildlife Division’s law enforcement administrator, who has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Lehman is charged with one count of obstructing justice and one count of complicity of obstructing justice. Both are fifth-degree felonies.
The indictment against Lehman and five other Wildlife Division officials stems from an alleged incident in which the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - Allan Wright - was said to have allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address in order to obtain an Ohio hunting license on Nov. 5, 2006.
It is alleged that Lehman and four other high-ranking Wildlife Division officials should have handled the Wright incident differently as a criminal matter and not as an administrative matter that resulted in a verbal reprimand for Wright.
“What I’ve seen of the limited investigation I’ve been able to do would indicate there is no merit to these charges. I just don’t understand why the charges were brought. They’re talking about complicity; trying to break the law. At least my client was following what he believed was policy. Certainly when the (Ohio) Inspector General got involved there was total cooperation with my client. He participated in the Inspector General investigation and told them what he knew. He wasn’t out to hide anything,” Cassity said.
Cassity said too that the matter should be tossed out of Brown County Common Pleas Court for lack of evidence of guilt.
“I do; maybe even more than a possibility. But right now this case is in its infancy with a lot of information that has to be discovered by the defense. I don’t see, however, there is sufficient evidence to support these charges,” Cassity said.
Cassity said as well that when an attorney is experienced in criminal work he or she has a “pretty good sense of what the evidence might be about” and that sense points to a lot of nothing in this matter.
Similarly, Cassity says he is “extremely impressed” with Lehman.
“I’ve got pretty good instincts and my impression is that he is straight and plays by the rules. You know, it’s tough on him with more than 20 years with the Wildlife Division. He’s an honorable man. He was just doing his job the way he believed his job should be done,” Cassity said.
Cassity noted that he will appear before the Brown County Common Pleas Court next week along with Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little for a pre-trial hearing.
At this hearing - not normally attended by the defendant - a second pre-trial date may be set as well as possibly the actual trial date.
“I don’t expect a whole lot except whether there’s been an exchange of discovery, basically must be provided by the prosecutor, possibly Friday or Monday,” Cassity said.
Efforts are being made to contact the other attorneys representing the remaining defendants.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
April 18th, 2010, 07:54 AM
It happens but don't hold it against all the DNR
There are people that take advantage of thier position in every walk of of life. Just don't hold the actions of a few against an entire workforce. Most of these guys went into the profession have the highest of moral standards. I can see how they could get led astray dealing with criminals only a daily basis. That's not saying what these gentleman did was ethical but they are human just like you and me and we all should know that not everyone is perfect. We all make mistakes, that's what makes us human. Lets just let the court system figure out what happened and then decide the accused thier fate. We have to trust our legal system because that's all we have.
The time is now to save yourselves for eternity. Give your life and soul to Jesus Christ and our father in heaven for I suspect the day of judgement is almost at hand.
April 18th, 2010, 08:09 AM
Why on earth would you risk your livelyhood to save $150 bucks???
Originally Posted by Baldona523
"Infinite patience and practice are needed to make a hunter. He must earn his right to take life by the painful effort of constant shooting." Saxton Pope
April 18th, 2010, 08:26 AM
Those given great power should be held to a higher standard.
Cops say when the bust some one that the perp probably has done 10 other crimes that he hasnt been caught doing.
This started with one crime and now thay have uncovered 2 more. One more non resident using his home address and one for traping in SC.
Makes you wonder what he has done in Ohio under cover of darkeness were he is the only law in the county.
2009 Katera XL
She's a shooter
April 18th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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