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Fake phone call a non-starter

Register • Feb 16, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Attorney Dean Henry didn't followup with the Sandusky County Sheriff or the Fremont police to ask for an investigation to determine who impersonated his client, Trooper Ricky Vitte Jr, in a recorded phone call to county prosecutor Tom Stierwalt. 

The phone call was made to Stierwalt on Jan. 22, acording to Henry, who learned of it from Stierwalt the following day. Henry told the Register he quickly determined it was not Vitte who called Stierwalt.

"I've since contacted the authorities regarding that matter and I'm going to be asking that a formal investigation be opened regarding that," Henry said last month. 

Hello, is this Tom? (Recorded phone call includes objectionable language. Listen at your own discretion.)

Henry declined to provide any update whether he determined who made the phone call, or whether he asked the FBI, or some other law enforcement agency to investigate.  

"Why would I do that," he told the Register Jan. 29 when asked if he could provide the name of the agency he asked to investigate.

Sandusky County sheriff Kyle Overmyer and Fremont police chief Tim Wiersma both told the Register last week that Henry did not ask their agencies for an investigation. 

Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt did not reply to inquiries whether Henry asked his office to investigate. Henry, in some capacity, also works for Stierwalt although neither man has responded to public records requests to provide documents and information related to the nature of that continuing relationship.

Stierwalt has ducked interviews and refuses to return phone calls or reply to emails seeking clarification and further comment about his decision not to pursue charges against Vitte, who was accused of watching porn and masturbating with a pre-teen boy. Henry said Vitte is innocent and denies all of the allegations, which arose from a child welfare investigation. 

Vitte initially fled driving a state police cruiser when Sandusky County sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell attempted to stop him, and he declined to talk with the detective about the allegations after the chase ended without talking to Henry first. 

Vitte was never subsequently interviewed by O'Connell, and it's not clear what exactly was learned from the child welfare caseworkers prior to the complaint getting forwarded from their office to the sheriff.

In the recorded phone call, Stierwalt sounds as if he knows Vitte and the two comiserate about the attention the allegations have drawn. 

"I'm not sure what we can do, except ignore it," Stierwalt tells the caller, who refers to himself as "Ricky Jr." when Stierwalt picks up the phone.

Stierwalt has ignored numerous public records requests, phone calls and requests for interviews from the Register since mid-January. He is generally not an accessible public official. 

Meanwhile, John Born, the director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety that oversees the Highway Patrol, shut down a review of the complaint against Vitte, instructing a spokesman to tell the Register the Patrol had not received the complaint, contradicting earlier statements from commanders in Columbus. 

Born, his communications director Joe Andrews and Highway Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston all have declined comment since the review of the Vitte investigation was dropped. 

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