Greene County Grand Jury missing in action?
*Note: A brief review of the CONOPS link on the menu bar above offers helpful insights into this post.
Last week Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly was indicted on 25 counts charging him with running an organized crime scheme from his office. OCGJ will not speculate one way or another on the guilt or innocence of Sheriff Kelly, but this case does present a striking comparison with OCGJ’s previous posts that documented those inside Dave Hobson’s and Mike DeWine’s inner circle who had a dust up with the law. OCGJ found no evidence that cases against insiders Monte Zinn; Greene County Treasurer, James Schmidt; and former Greene County Prosecutor, Bill Schenck ever went before a jury of the defendants’ peers, grand jury or otherwise. However, they all resulted in plea bargains or “no contest” pleas with fines and penalties ridiculously low compared to those received from others outside the political class who committed similar crimes and misdemeanors, or those who were targeted as scapegoats to settle institutionalized corruption that had gone over the top.
Let’s first consider the Anuszewski-Zinn Paradox addressed in OCGJ’s January 1st post. Convicted felon and alleged sex offender Monte Zinn walked, and Dennis Anuszewski who committed what may be considered a victimless crime, ends up with 120 months in prison. The big difference: Anuszewski was skewered by a grand jury orchestrated by Clark County and federal prosecutors, but Zinn never had to endure that because of his “slap-on-the-wrist” plea bargain offered and/or accepted by the same county prosecutor, the same U.S. Attorney’s office and the same U.S. District Court that sent Anuszewski away for ten years.
Then in OCGJ’s January 8th post we observed former Greene County Treasurer, James Schmidt who acknowledged years if not decades of abuse of his public office very similar to the felony indictment against Athens County Sheriff, Pat Kelly. Schmidt got off with probation, as well as fines and court costs that were probably a small fraction of what he enriched himself with at taxpayer expense. Furthermore, Mr. Schmidt pled guilty to unlawful interest in a public contract where he apparently received compensation for doing probate work for his private practice clients. Schmidt’s activity in this regard was in full view of Greene County Probate Court Judge Robert A. Hagler, who at best was ignorant of the law, and at worst illegally offered contract work to a fellow Greene County Republican. An interesting side-bar here is that visiting Judge Sumner Walters who bought off on Schmidt’s patty-cake plea bargain, also dismissed our lawsuit in 2009 to force disclosure of public records by Greene County Prosecutor Steve Haller and Greene County Commissioners Marilyn Reid and Rick Perales. Judge Walter’s sole justification for dismissing OCGJ’s case is that “State of Ohio” was missing from the caption in our original filing (Greene County Common Pleas Court Case No. 2009CV0305). No trial by jury and no public exposure; just Prosecutor Haller defending himself and Commissioners Reid and Perales before a cooperating judge that explained away public corruption by a procedural technicality.
Although there is a mountain of well-argued, but dismissed allegations in this case, this document stands out as a smoking gun that by itself may carry enough weight to indict Dayton Development Coalition agents JP Nauseef and Judy Brinegar, and Greentree agents Bill Dwyer and Lou Ferraro, not to mention Judge Walters, Prosecutor Haller, and Commissioners Reid and Perales for the cover up. Put yourself on a grand jury. How would you have ruled if the prosecutor had done his job and presented this evidence instead of acting as his own and others’ defense counsel?
The $1.9 million BRAC Initiative Agreement between the Coalition and Greene County Commissioners was signed on September 30, 2003. The attached email exchange took place almost two weeks later. Here’s the definitive statement by Judy Brineger that clearly and unequivocally incriminates each and every one who perpetrated this fraud or tried to cover it up. Ms. Brineger wrote in her email, “Also, I have adjusted the application forms to reflect the changes we discussed and updated the files to increase the budget to $2M to match the cost share on the application forms.” The “budget” Ms. Brinegar was referring to was contractually established nearly two weeks earlier when the BRAC Initiative Agreement was signed by the Greene County Commissioners. To be clear:
- Coalition agents conspired with Greentree agents to retroactively make a constructive change to the BRAC Initiative Agreement contract which cost Ohio taxpayers at least $100,000 in additional matched funds from the grantor, the Ohio Department of Development.
- These changes were done unilaterally between Coalition and Greentree agents without approval by Green County, which is a clear violation of O.R.C. 307 that regulates county tax revenues used for economic development.
- Greentree, which was non-competitively awarded the BRAC Initiative Agreement contract conspired with the Coalition to rig the bid upward after the fact to increase the Coalition’s payout received from the Ohio Department of Development grant.
For nearly five years the Greene County Commissioners, Prosecutor Haller, the Greene County Common Pleas Court and others have been stonewalling OCGJ’s request for the BRAC Initiative Agreement grant application and approval documents. It’s likely those documents no longer exist, but that may be of minor consequence now that the email exchange between Coalition and Greentree agents has seen the light of day.
- The Athens News, Grand jury issues 25-count indictment against Sheriff Kelly, January 31, 2014.
- Frolik, Cornelius, Fear of job loss kept some Schmidt workers quiet, Dayton Daily News, December 10, 2010.
- Lane, Beth, Athens County Sheriff indicted on 23 felony charges, 2 misdemeanors, The Columbus Dispatch, January 31, 2014