Once you wade through the available public records and realize that the evidence that the contraband was drugs was always non-existent, but the evidence that the contraband was not criminal in nature was plentiful, the rest becomes easier.

The next political trick in keep a non-story in the news is to hold legislative hearings on it so the same reporters can essentially re-file the same story again, but this time mention that the same story this time was made during a hearing.

And after all, nobody would lie to a politician.? In fact, so confident is the Senate Republican committee chairman that nobody would dare lie under oath, he’s made sure not to preserve anyone’s testimony in front of the committee by having a certified court reporter transcribe the testimony.? Thus, rendering any potential prosecution of perjury all but impossible.

So far, the only people the Republican Committee chairman has called as witness are the three management-position officers in the OCI who were the biggest advocates for the “sting” at the Governor’s Mansion: (Frm. Maj. Booker, Cpt. Henderson, and Sgt. Miller.)

Surprising to noone, but apparently Randy Ludlow, the officers swear up and down that they had a great case, even if they cannot identify any actual evidence to support their claims.

Testimonial Myth # 1: The officers all testified that they knew it was drugs.?

Bullshit again.? Nope, nope, and nope.? As pointed out in the earlier post, none of them testified to any evidentiary basis that would lead anyone to find that they knew that the item was drugs.? E-mails around the time demonstrate only that Sgt. Miller’s speculation that the term “six pack” probably referred to drugs was the basis for OIS to make that conclusion.

Second, Randy Ludlow actually omitted a key point of each officers’ testimony in his report.? Each officer testified that they had no clue what kind of drug the contraband would be (prescription pills, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, tobacco, aspirin.)? It’s hard to say you have certainty that an item is something while also having no clue what the item actually is.? This point was actually covered by the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week, but has yet to even be mentioned by either WBNS or the Dispatch.

That statement impeaches any credibility that these officers had any certainty about anything.? Again, Booker testified, under oath, that there was “no doubt” that the item was drugs, even though Randy Ludlow admits in his first report that DRC indicated it might be tobacco instead.

At no point in Booker’s testimony does he give any evidentiary basis whatsoever (despite being asked for it) for him to testify that the items were drugs beyond Sgt. Miller’s speculation, and he made no mention of the warning contrary by the DRC.

When asked by Plunderbund why the Dispatch failed to mention that the officers testified that they had no idea what kind of drugs the item was (or failed to explain any evidentiary basis for it), Randy Ludlow explained that he simply didn’t have “enough space” to report on these key details… even though the Plain Dealer didn’t have that problem.

Furthermore, in an April 8th, 2010 e-mail by Capt. Henderson describing the plan for the sting, she wrote:

“If a drop is made the suspect will be allowed to leave the area and will be followed by undercover officers. The package will then be retrieved and the contents will be examined. If the contents are found to be narcotics or other illegal contraband the suspect will be pulled over by a marked patrol unit.” (emphasis added.)

When asked why Capt. Henderson’s email did not seemingly contradict her sworn testimony, Mr. Ludlow responded in an e-mail:

“Re: Henderson saying we will check the package — of course you do, you can’t make a felony stop without probable cause.”

In other words, Ludlow justifies not reporting Capt. Henderson’s conflicting and earlier statement about the uncertainty of whether the item was really criminal contraband … because it only establishes that the officers’ believed that they had no probable cause to even make an arrest.? Mr. Ludlow also stated to me that absent the sting, the officers would not have probable cause to make an arrest.? And yet, he reported, without question, that the officers “knew” the item was drugs.? If the officers “knew” that, then they wouldn’t have needed to do the sting.?? They simply could have made an arrest.? If the officers didn’t have probable cause (and they didn’t), then they also didn’t “know” with absolute certainty that the planned contraband was drugs.? This apparently is entirely lost on the entire Dispatch Publishing Company, but not the Plain Dealer.

In fact, during his Senate committee testimony, Maj. Booker was pointedly asked why they didn’t simply arrest the inmate’s wife BEFORE she arrived at the Governor’s Mansion, but he didn’t give a direct answer.? Instead, he testified that a meeting that was called “because over concerns over lack of probable cause” (something no media outlet reported), they simply decided to go a different direction.

Testimonial Myth # 2: Highway Patrol Superintendent David Dicken supported the plan.

If by support you mean, reported that he felt his staff couldn’t give him “satisfactory answers” about it, felt his people were “confused“, and reportedly was “surprised” at the plan, then yes.

There is no e-mail or other public document that supports the officers’ sworn testimony that Dicken supported the plan initially.? Nor has Randy Ludlow or WBNS identified any such document.? And yet, the Dispatch reported this myth without question.

When Plunderbund pointed out that Superintendent Dicken did not confirm these officers account at all, Ludlow excused that discrepancy as unreliable since Dicken did not testify under oath and the e-mails contrary were sent after the Director of Public Safety asked Dicken “WTF?”

Testimonial Myth # 3:? The OIS Officers in favor of a sting disagreed with the Superintendent’s decision to do a “knock and talk” instead.

I’m not saying they’re lying, but there’s not a single public document that supports this claim, which you’d think someone in the media would also point out.

Not a single report or e-mail indicates that anyone in the OIS objected to the decision.? Not one.? Seems like someone should point that out…

Testimonial Myth #4:? The decision to do a “knock and talk” is unprecedented.

Maj. Booker testified to the Senate Committee, and it was reported by Randy Ludlow and other media outlets that the decision to do a “knock and talk” in a case about possible illegal conveyance into a state correctional facility was “unprecedented.”

First, what was unprecedented was the idea to conduct a sting at the Governor’s Mansion when law enforcement had no real evidence of the nature of the contraband in the first place.? Second, totally “unprecedented” act was the planning of the sting and having the Director of Public Safety and the Superintendent of the Patrol out of the loop in violation of the clear chain-of-command.

But beyond that, Maj. Booker testified that the term commonly used in the Patrol for what they ultimately did is called a “knock and talk.”? And yet, not one paper, not one State Senator seemed to grasp the illogical of an unprecedented event having a commonly used law enforcement terminology.

Oh, and besides that, “knock and talks” have been used by the OIS in actual illegal drug conveyance cases in state prisons quite a bit.? As the former head of OIS during these prior “knock and talks”, you’d think that Maj. Booker would have remembered this when he testified otherwise.

This is yet another instance in which Randy Ludlow and WBNS reported aspects of the case without independently verifying the claims.? And again, in a situation in which the available public record directly contradicts the sworn testimony of the officers.? But Ludlow probably doesn’t have “space” for this either.

Myth # 5: Henderson and Booker were removed from OIS as a political repraisal over “Troopergate”.

Not unless Maj. Booker was psychic.

Booker testified at the Senate committee hearing that he had filed his retirement paperwork before he ever learned of the tobacco investigation.? In fact, this e-mail from the Director of the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety before the raid was canned expresses a concern about, presumably, Booker given that he “has one foot out the door” already.

Although Booker specifically has been cited as an alleged “victim” of political reprisals, neither the Dispatch, nor WBNS reported Booker’s factual testimony on the subject to the contrary.

Also, if Booker and Henderson were really political victims, then why not Sgt. Miller?

There’s another unrelated reason why the Ohio Department of Public Safety just might have wanted to get both Booker and Henderson out of the OIS, and it has nothing to do with the planned raid at the Governor’s Mansion.

You see, in 2009, Capt. Henderson reported her firearm missing.? As in, literally, “I don’t remember when the last time I saw my service firearm.”

Not surprisingly, the former Superintendent of the Patrol (who is also pushing the political “cover up” story) and the former Director of Public Safety got in a disagreement as to what the appropriate discipline should be for Capt. Henderson.? The Supt. thought she should only be suspended three days.? The former Director thought five, but also that she should be reassigned out of OIS.? These two gentlemen got along so poorly, both had to be terminated and replaced.

So, Capt. Henderson already had one foot out the door of OIS already, too.

Oh, and before Capt. Henderson was interviewed by the investigator (who was considering potential criminal charges in the case, although not against Capt. Henderson, I believe)? Yeah, Maj. Booker decided it was a good idea to give Capt. Henderson full and unfettered access to the investigation file.

Not surprisingly, some in the Ohio Department of Public Safety had a problem with this method of conducting a potential criminal investigation.

Myth # 6: This was a cover up to prevent a sting operation.

First, nobody has yet to explain what, precisely, this was designed to cover up, especially since there’s been no allegation that anyone, anywhere knew before now of this tobacco smuggling going on.

The other problem, the sting wasn’t scrapped entirely.? In fact, just as originally planned, all five troopers sat in a surveillance van all day by the Governor’s Mansion with a drug-sniffing canine unit.? And absolutely nothing happened.

Just about every aspect of this story as its been reported by the Dispatch and WBNS has been utter garbage.? Every document I’ve used in these posts has been available (and I’ve been told were already in the possession of these reporters) when the misleading and downright false information has been reported.

The only question is, will the Columbus Dispatch and WBNS finally come clean?

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  • WestlakeDavid

    C’mon… everyone Knows Columbus is a big Party Town…

  • john_edwards

    You're pretty deep in the weeds here. If you have to do that much 'splainin, it ain't gonna be good for your guy.

    Quick sound byte for the voters: drug bust at the governor's mansion.

  • modernesquire

    Quicker sound byte: There was no drugs.

  • This is some of the best original reporting in Ohio blogs this year. Great work. Shouldn't have to do it, but it doesn't look like the “real” reporters are doing a very good job.

    Reported a side arm missing? This didn't make the papers? LOL

  • It's not 'splainin. It's called reporting. Apparently newspapers quit doing this.

    Where is Tom Blumer! MSM conspiracy!!

  • modernesquire

    Thanks, man.

  • john_edwards

    Ummm … I'm not agreeing with you, but it would be: There WERE no drugs. 😉

    My point is that it's all perception. There's a controversial event that happened at the governor's mansion. And it involved an aborted drug but, cops, aides, etc. It's dirty on its face – and it doesn't matter what really happened.

    If the state was rockin' and we had 5% unemployment, this would be no big deal. But the state is reeling, and this incident is just another incident of chaos for a guy who already has nothing going for him. Kinda like Bob Taqft getting dragged down by Noe, if you don't mind me saying so. I know you will find 38 ways to distinguish these events, but it's the 6-second sound byte that moves the independents who decide the election. You can't spin the drug bust positively in a 6-second sound byte.

  • modernesquire

    Except to point out that there was no evidence of drugs.

    This isn't a matter of perspective. It's a matter of fact and lies.

    You can spin this as otherwise as you want. But there is no story here.

  • john_edwards

    I didn't say perspective. I said perception.

    You have analyzed this issue with [at least] two long blog posts. Other liberal blogs have covered it. Conservative blogs have covered it. Ohio print media has covered it. Ohio TV media has covered it. How can you claim there's no story here? You might think it's a story not worth covering, and you're doing your best to talk the rest of the media out of it, but the fact is that it's being covered … and a lot.

    I can remember thinking – really? – is Bob Taft actually going to get convicted for golf outings. Is that a story? But look what happened ……. it spun and spun and spun until old Bob was getting fined in a courtroom.

    Getting back to perspective vs. perception. It doesn't even matter if you're 100% right on the facts. If the news media is saying “Strickland” and “drug bust” and “cover up,” then you're in deep trouble because the uninformed folks in the middle will pick that up and start making conclusions.

    You're getting Taft-ed, and there's nothing you can do about it.

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  • mvirenicus

    I can't believe a cop would lie about anything. Ever. Actually, based on personal experience I'd say being a liar is a prerequisite of the job, and this is coming from someone who is constantly accused of being a cop and should have been a cop based on various standardized tests. I guess that makes me a liar, but I'm really not. Trust me.

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