Diversion for Babcock in P.C. scrap theft

PORT CLINTON A former Port Clinton official agreed to enter a diversion program and avoid a trial af
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

PORT CLINTON

A former Port Clinton official agreed to enter a diversion program and avoid a trial after he was accused of stealing city-owned scrap metal, his attorney said.

Rich Babcock, 56, was charged in August with one felony count each of theft in office and theft.

His attorney, Jim Hart ofSandusky, and Ottawa County Assistant Prosecutor Lorrain Croy came to an agreement last week after discussing the case for about three months. Babcock, former safety-service director, will not face trial because it was not a serious crime, Croy said.

Croy said this is not unusual because Babcock has not had any prior criminal offenses and returned the $1,200 gained from selling scrap metal to Burns Iron & Metal Co. in Fremont.

"This is a low-level felony. There's a presumption to probation anyway," Croy previously said.

"You have to have a very serious felony to go to prison. It would be incredibly unlikely that he would go to prison even in the event of a trial."

Hart said Babcock's charges would be dismissed following six to 12 months of probation.

"It's a quiet resolution of a very difficult matter," Hart said. "It was in the best interest of him and his family and the Port Clinton community that it get resolved this way."

Judge Paul Moon will make the final decision on the length of the probation, Hart said.

Babcock will not go to prison as long as he completes the requirements of the diversion program, Croy said.

Babcock's hearing has not been scheduled.

Babcock and Kenneth Heschel, former service department supervisor for Port Clinton, were accused of stealing scrap metal in January 2007 from the old Water Works Building in Port Clinton.

Babcock and Heschel took the scrap metal with the intent of contributing the money to a cash slush fund, records show. Both men also authorized city employees to sell scrap metal to Burns Iron & Metal for a "pop and coffee" fund.

Heschel was granted immunity on the chance Babcock's case would go to trial.