The Cleveland Plain Dealer has confirmed my earlier reporting of the true facts behind the legitimate legal reasons that the Superintendent of the Highway Patrol as well as the Director of the Department of Public Safety (a former police officer) decided that a planned sting at the Governor’s Mansion should not go forward because there was considerable evidence that the alleged conspiracy violated no criminal law and could pose substantial risk to the Governor’s and others safety.
Here’s what the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirmed that the Dispatch refuses to report that I wrote the one Dispatch reporter knows, but has yet to publish:
1. The entire investigation began when the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) seized the inmate’s letter wherein he described a plot to his wife to smuggle a “six pack” into the prison after she dropped the item outside the Governor’s Mansion:
Prison officials had intercepted a letter in which an inmate, allowed to work a special detail at the Democratic governor’s mansion, had asked his wife to drop off a “six pack” at the back of the mansion.
2. At the time the ODRC gave the letter to the Ohio Highway Patrol before the Patrol did ANYTHING, it notified the Patrol that the term “six pack” was understood by them to be a code word used by inmates to refer to tobacco, not drugs:
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman Julie Walburn said inmates have been interviewed and her agency is certain a “six pack” is a pouch of loose tobacco.
Walburn added that since tobacco products were banned from Ohio prisons about a year ago, products like cigarettes have become more valuable than some drugs.
[Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. David Dicken’s] spokeswoman, Lindsay Komlanc, said because the investigating officers had no idea what the woman might try to drop off, Dicken and his boss, Department of Public Safety Director Cathy Collins-Taylor, called off the sting.
“We had indications from DRC it may be tobacco but we had no way of being 100 percent certain,” Komlanc said. “It could have been anything from a gun to tobacco.”
3. For reasons that they cannot explain, Maj. Robert Booker, Lt. Michelle Henderson, and Sgt. Chad Miller concluded, despite the information provided by the ODRC, that the term “six pack” meant drugs, even though they have yet to cite to any evidence they uncovered in their investigation to support their speculation that contradicted the information provided by the ODRC. Nor have they denied, under oath, that the ODRC indicated at the time that the term “six pack” likely referred to tobacco, not illegal drugs.
[W]hen asked by Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, what type of drugs — pills, marijuana, cocaine — the officers could not answer.
“I don’t know the type of particular drug,” Miller said. He added that three days later, investigators searching the mansion grounds found loose tobacco.
(Randy Ludlow’s story today in the Columbus Dispatch makes no mention of this critical information, even though he reported on the very same hearing that the PD covered. This information demonstrates that these officers’ superiors had legitimate and valid concerns that there was no crime to investigate.)
In other news, Booker flirted with perjury today:
“It was drugs. No doubt,” Booker said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the incident.
Oh, really? Then why did Lt. Henderson, in an email dated Jan. 8, 2010 (pg. 9) tell her superiors that the plan for the sting was:
The package will then be retrieved and the contents will be examined. If the contents are found to be narcotics or other illegal contraband . . . .
In other words, at the time, Lt. Henderson considered the possibility that the item was not illegal contraband, especially when it was initially reported as a plot to smuggle likely only tobacco. What’s even more embarrassing for Randy Ludlow is that he’s had a copy of the inmate’s letter from the beginning… In fact, the emails that the Dispatch published on their website (see, prior link) shows an interesting turn by the Dispatch‘s coverage:
- The first story in the Dispatch, written by Alan Johnson, specifically mentions the possibility that the item might have been tobacco.
- All subsequent stories, written instead by Randy Ludlow, curiously refuse to mention the possibility at all, but instead insists that it “suspected drugs” all along, even though Ludlow himself has never reported what would be the basis of such a suspicion.
- All of Ludlow’s stories indicates that there were “potential criminal charges” but for the decision to thwart the “raid” because he refuses to report the possibility that the item was, more likely than not, tobacco, and therefore, there was no evidence of a crime.
Randy Ludlow and the Columbus Dispatch Publishing Company have a lot to answer for. For God’s sake, a WBNS reporter showed the inmate’s letter in a recent news story, but then curiously failed to report what it said or what the ODRC told the patrol it likely indicated.
This is beyond journalistic malpractice. It’s a political witch hunt that would make Salem blush.
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