Recent allegations against the Put-in-Bay police department have done nothing to quell officers' abuse of power, according to at least one island businessman.
Tim Niese, former Sandusky police officer for 18 years and owner of several popular island businesses, said Put-in-Bay police officers stopped two of his employees around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, allegedly for no reason.
He said officers stopped one of his employees, an African-American man, as the man walked from T & J's Steakhouse, which Niese co-owns with his son, to the man's house: a distance of about 75-feet.
This area is a private driveway and parking lot, Niese said.
Still, officers demanded the man to get to his house immediately after he finished a 16-hour shift, Niese said.
"You don't tell him to get back in his house," Niese said. "They have no business telling him that."
The man has been working at the restaurant for more than 10 years and is well-known on the island, Niese said.
He also said the officers had no right to be on the property since business employees never called police for help at any point that night.
Amid the island's ever-popular Christmas in July, at least a few officers were apparently behind Niese's business as large crowds made their way down Delaware Avenue once bars shut down.
"These officers were behind the businesses when all all the activity is in the front," Niese said.
He said another one of his employees was stopped promptly after he finished a 12-hour shift around 3 a.m. — for riding a skateboard behind the business.
Officers told the man to pick up his board and walk, Niese said.
Niese said he does not know why this happened.
"When they (go) after employees of mine, we're going to make sure the public knows about it," Niese said. "It's ridiculous."
Although Niese did not speculate as to why his employees were allegedly harassed, multiple islanders have said they've been targeted by Put-in-Bay police Chief Ric Lampela following disagreements with him.
Niese's business, the Islander Inn, recently won a court battle with the department.
The inn received two golf carts back in May after the police department impounded the carts for more than a year.
One cart was impounded after an intoxicated driver was stopped by police, attorney Andy Mayle said recently, and the other was impounded after it was stolen and left in an obscure location.
Police charged the business $25 a day for each cart, so Niese and company decided to sue instead of paying the fine.
Ottawa County Judge Bruce Winters ruled the carts should be given back without fines, Mayle said, as he issued a permanent injunction against the department to stop this practice.
The inn is awaiting a damages hearing.
Lampela did not return phone calls Monday.
Niese also said Lampela has failed to contact him about the alleged harassment despite leaving messages with the department, urging Lampela to explain these most recent allegations.
During a recent public forum, Lampela explained to the audience that he had not been dodging media requests, but rather he had been away at a training seminar and unable to respond.