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Ohio AG investigates deleted emails

Sandusky Register Staff • Mar 4, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Law director James Melle provided a letter he sent to the AG’s office last month requesting assistance. The letter is heavily redacted, however, and does not reveal the nature of Melle’s concerns.

The Register requested Melle and the Ohio AG’s Office provide the exemption in the public records statute of the Ohio Revised Code, ORC 149.43, which would allow for the redaction of this information. Melle said the redacted parts are part of confidential law enforcement investigatory records.

The Ohio AG’s office has not yet responded.

Generally, a law enforcement agency is required to file an incident report containing all of the information it has presently on a complaint prior to starting a criminal investigation. Those incident reports are public record.

It’s not clear which agency started the investigation or filed the initial incident report. Melle was asked Monday afternoon to provide that information and a copy of the initial incident report, but he did not immediately respond to that request.

The portions of his letter that were not blacked-out reveal some sort of investigation has been ongoing for about a year.

“In March of 2013 I explained to you that my office was seeking your assistance regarding deletion of computer files from several of its computers because as a former Council member I have a conflict of interest,” Melle wrote in the Feb. 13 letter to William Schenck, a senior adviser to Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Pursuant to our telephone conversation today, I reminded you of my conflict and explained the information I had provided you in 2013.

“We attempted over the next several months to have a meeting but based upon your very busy schedule unfortunately this did not occur,” the letter to Schenck continues. “I appreciated your telephone call today and I am providing this letter to help in preparation for our discussion on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at 10 a.m. Thank you for your assistance”

Melle, elected law director in 2011 after serving 12 years on the Fremont city council, declined to detail his concerns when contacted by the Register on Monday.

“As a former city council member I have a conflict so I requested the assistance of the Ohio AG’s office,” he said. “I’m not going to make any comment about a matter that is being investigated”

The AG’s Office did not respond to requests for more information.

“Since no one is charged with anything, we aren’t saying who the allegations are against,” AG spokeswoman Jill Del Greco told the Toledo Blade.

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