Yesterday, the Dayton Daily News criticized Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little for her felony obstructing justice and complicity because several ODNR officials chose to administratively treat an employee matter solely as an employee disciplinary matter, but didn’t make a criminal referral.
All five supervisors are on paid administrative leave while the criminal case unfolds ? at a cost to the state of nearly $10,000 per week for their salaries. The law that allegedly was violated is designed to keep the state from losing money by allowing for cut-rate licenses. In this case, the total loss was $106.
From a purely financial standpoint, the response to the violation has been grossly more expensive.
But the Dayton Daily News engages in some historical revisionism.
There was bad judgment in the case, but prosecuting six people for felonies over a single phony hunting license is overkill. Even Inspector General Charles? highly critical report did not recommend criminal charges.
Charles’ report, however, spells out the precise basis of the criminal case.? He accuses the ODNR officials of acting in concert by not treating the matter as a criminal matter.? He accuses them of “wrongdoing” which is the same wrongdoing that formed the criminal indictment.
However, the Dayton Daily News missed another major reason that Charles cannot get a pass.? Charles was intimately involved in this indictment.? He withheld issuing his report publicly until the day that the indictment was issued.? So, it’s not like the Brown County Prosecutor just walked into the grand jury room one day and read them Charles’ report… he HAD to have been involved in presenting testimony and evidence to the grand jury in order for her to indict these ODNR officials.
The DDN is just putting out Thomas Charles’ spin on a criminal prosecution that has caused a major backlash against Charles in Columbus.? He swears that he wasn’t pushing for these criminal charges now… even though they wouldn’t have happened or been trumpeted in Charles’ own report without his office’s significant involvement.
Furthermore, Charles himself has already threatened to pursue a similar route in the ongoing so-called “Troopergate” saga:
“If it is a law enforcement operation what might get dicey is obstruction of official business, perhaps,” Charles said. “I don’t think it’s an area I want to go down. That’s an area a prosecutor would have to address.” (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (05/06/10), “Top Ohio public safety officials strike back at inspector general over explosive report about scuttled investigation”)
Charles is being too coy by half.? He pushed the criminal prosecution of ODNR officials, and now that it’s become controversial, he’s thrown the prosecutor he convinced to indict these officials under the bus.
What nobody in the media has really delved into is why this ODNR case was filed in Brown County and not Franklin County even though all but one employee worked in Franklin County.
It’s because Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien passed on the case, so Charles went shopping elsewhere.