Former Ottawa County sheriff charged with theft of funds

Former sheriff used money for personal items including Cedar Point tickets, clothing and prescription medicine.
Sandusky Register Staff
Jan 9, 2014

Robert Bratton, 60, of Genoa, Ohio, was charged in a criminal information with one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Click HERE for a related story about a state audit in 2012

The former Ottawa County sheriff was charged with improperly using about $5,000 that was to be used for law enforcement purposes to instead pay for personal items including Cedar Point tickets, clothing and prescription medicine, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Read more about this in Friday's Sandusky Register




Sounds about right for Ottawa County.

I had one of my renters murdered and all the cops said/did was tell me the guy was a thorn in the Sheriffs backside. Never talked to the neighbors to ask if they seen anything or not...The murderer is still on the loose.

I also had people stealing scrap from me. When I came home one night their truck was sitting along side the road with a pile of scrap aluminum next to it. I wrote down the license plate and went home to call the cops. When the cops arrived the truck was gone but you could see their tracks in the snow where they were hiding. The first thing the cop asked me was if I seen the people, I said no as I did not see them. The cop then told me there was nothing they could do.

Ottawa county is about as crooked as they come and worthless also.


It's interesting that all the focus is on Sandusky County and botched death investigations in that county (justifiably so given recent cases) but that the problem of covered up homicides in Ottawa County is just as bad.

Perhaps you should bring your evidence to this newspaper to help get a federal probe of Sandusky, and Ottawa counties law enforcement.

I'm interested in your story.


Only the assured, as Ottawa's Departments are audited, "misappropriated funds" will become the "benchmark" in Ottawa County.


This guy sounds like the administration running the Ohio Veterans Home.




Anyone with half a brain knows better to charge personal items to a grant.How could someone think the auditors were not going to pick up on expenditures? That is why their are audits. Just because the sheriff paid the money back when he was caught, doesn't mean everything is okay.


Anyone with half a brain knows better to charge personal items to a grant.How could someone think the auditors were not going to pick up on expenditures? That is why their are audits. Just because the sheriff paid the money back when he was caught, doesn't mean everything is okay.


"Anyone with half a brain knows better than to charge personal items to a grant." True. Which means Mark Mulligan is apparently doing his job (or not doing it, as the case may be) with something LESS than half a brain. Remember: He didn't see anything wrong with it when it was originally brought to his attention!

The governed

I am curious what that dollar amount of mis appropriated (stolen) funds comes out to when Mark Mulligans office is investigated.

Ottawa county has at least been consistent with sheriffs going to jail after leaving office, great example for the kids OCSO.


Same guy that wanted to charge for ice rescues? buy more Cedar Point tickets?

"Ohio Auditor Dave Yost ORDERED Bratton to repay $7,200 to the sheriff's office. Said Yost: “This shopping list is just incredible. The taxpayers’ belts are already tight — they shouldn’t have to pay for his belt too.”

Yost ORDERED Bratton to pay back the funds? Bratton would not pay back the funds voluntarily?

How much did the special audit cost? Did Bratton pay back the cost of the special audit?


Bratton chalked up the mistakes to sloppy bookkeeping.
“You bet your butt I made mistakes,” Bratton said. “I’m embarrassed about it. I’m sorry about it."

Bratton is only sorry because he got caught. He did have the Ohio Sheriff manual to guide him on bookkeeping requirements. No excuse for sloppy bookkeeping.


Here's Mulligans quote from the paper edition.

"I thought the mistakes were innocent. He returned the funds. The matter was over. I still have the highest level of respect for Bob Bratton."

So if I walk out of Kohls with an arm load of clothing that I didn't pay for, and loss prevention taps me on the shoulder, it's ok, as long as I fold all the clothes and put them back where they belong?!

If you ask me, Mulligan owed Bratton a huge favor.


Actually they owe each other huge favors, much like the system in Cuyahoga County.

What bothers me is the fact that Auditor of State provided the guidelines on the use of the funds and included the additional language the expenditures must be for a public purpose. The public purpose requirement has been part of Ohio Public finance law for decades.

Yet when anyone brought illegal public expenditures to the attention of Mark Mulligan or former Sheriff Bratton the evidence was ignored and the people complaining were vilified or even criminally charged for reporting it.

A recent example of expenditures that weren't arguably for a public purpose but to advance a political payback (our local version of the G. W bridge) is the abuse of public resources by Mulligan at the request of Rep Redfern to indict and incarcerate a young man for what was at best a misdemeanor case of trespassing.

An older really egregious example of misuse of public resources and power was the indictment of the editor of a local blog for publishing proof that a school official in Ottawa County had lied under oath about illegal expenditures in the school system. Not surprisingly the school official and other school employees and officials allegedly involved in the illegal expenditures were political supporters of Mulligan and Bratton. In other words campaign donations (pay)to not get indicted for stealing public funds.

"Anthony said, “A sheriff who chooses to ignore his sworn oath to uphold the law and engage in criminal behavior is totally unacceptable. The FBI will investigate those who violate the public’s trust, no matter what position that individual holds.”

"In 2010, Bratton used approximately $2,865 in FOJ Fund cash and also used a credit card linked to the FOJ Fund to purchase various personal items, including Cedar Point tickets, prescription medicine, and clothing, all of which were non-permitted expenses under FOJ Fund rules and regulations, according to the information."

"The Ohio Auditor provided guidance to county sheriffs in 2007 under the heading “Permissable Expenditures of FOJ Funds.” It read, in part, that an “expenditure must be both in the performance of the officer’s official duties and in furtherance of justice to be allowable.” The bulletin also stated, “There is always the additional requirement that the expenditure must be for a proper public purpose,” according to the information."

Where are the state (OHIO) charges for misuse of a credit card?

Here is a clue for Mulligan:


****** ATTENTION FBI ******
"The prosecutor, however, offered up $15,000 from the office’s Furtherance of Justice Funds as well as $23,000 from the elimination of a part-time employee position to the commissioners. He suggested the money be put toward one-time bonuses for the county workers."

Bonuses using Furtherance of Justice Funds for non-union employees.

Ottawa County Sheriffs Office FOJ Fund
Report Type:Special Audit
Release Date:03/13/2012
Report Period:01/01/2008 to 09/23/2011


@Cent , thanks for the link. It is quite an interesting read. It shows Bratton repeatedly using the funds for personal use. There is over $16,000 that Bratton "says" was used for food and dining, but did not have one receipt to back up his statements! Also, there was to be written guidelines and limits on food and Bratton did not do this! In other words, this could have included grant money used for beer, wine and liquor purchased during these meals.

There was close to $1,900 in gift card purchases, but no receipt or evidence as to who received these cards and why.

Just as the Cedar Point passes, Bratton, AFTER he was caught, told investigators that he bought the passes to be used as reward for employee of the month. But the investigators tracked down and questioned the holders of the free passes, they were not even employees of the county!

This was not a case of "messy or sloppy book keeping" , because there was NO book keeping on this money!

Interesting to note, that when Bratton started, the Sheriff prior, left rules guidelines and book keeping for how to use the monies from the grant. Bratton chose to not follow these, or even make new ones.

There is a big difference in the severity of the theft, when you read through this report. There is much more to it than the newspaper prints. $1,392 worth of prescription medication mailed directly to the sheriffs house!?

The governed

What is really sad about this is that when a crime is reported to the Ottawa county sheriff or Mark Mulligans prosecutors office even today. They will tell you that there is nothing they can do in most cases, unless they have an axe to grind. These organizations will claim they don't have the resources. The same resources the sheriff, deputies, and prosecutors are stealing them from the public themselves. It's time to investigate and clean house, although this will never happen. Most of these folks are also double dippers as well.

The governed

The port clinton news herald is nothing more than a propaganda machine for the real crooks of Ottawa county.


Agreed. Boy what the Ottawa County Register (Sandusky Register's Ottawa County edition) could uncover if it had a real investigative reporter.


You are correct. When Elsebeth Baumgartner tried to expose the corruption in corrupt Ottawa County, OHIO many years ago, the powers that be used the Port Clinton News-Herald to discredit Baumgartner and foster public disdain against her. The sheeple of Ottawa County (OHIO) bought into it.

Karma came and now the PCNH has lost readership. I feel that the Fremont News-Messenger will be next for protecting the crooks in corrupt Sandusky County, Ohio. Both newspapers will go out of business in a few years. A new multi-county newspaper will arrive within 5 years.

I have a lot of confidential information that I will not divulge due to my confidentially agreement. After speaking with a few people, I can say this. Not all super rich people are crooks and there are some who are on the side of truth and are fed up with corrupt Ohio. Another newspaper is in the works to put the Sandusky Register out of business within the next 5 years. My understanding is that it will be both a print and online version. I also understand that it will not happen if the Sandusky Register decides to reverse course and report only truthful news and not hold back on hidden truth about the powers that be.


The FBI raid in corrupt Cuyahoga County (OHIO) got its start a couple of years before the actual raid that involved about 200 FBI agents from out of state.

Some official FBI news about corrupt Cuyahoga County, OHIO:


It is not over for corrupt Cuyahoga County (OHIO). Deals are still being made and those in prison are starting to spill the beans.

If I were the Ottawa County (OHIO) prosecutor Mulligan, I would have some Depends (adult diapers) nearby. He will be needing them. Bratton is small fish. I am told that Bratton has already spilled the beans.

Small fish were used for that 200 FBI agent raid on corrupt Cuyahoga County (OHIO) a couple of years prior before the raid.


There is a reason why some were released early from the Federal prisons. Deals were made for early release after the beans were spilled to go after the big fish.

The prison sentence was used to soften up the offenders to spill the beans.


The similarity of the two counties is that both are heavily democratic. So you have these Democrats that keep winning elections, giving them big heads! They didn't win because they are talented, intelligent or worthy of the position, they won because they have a "D" behind their name on the ballot.

But they get in office and start milking the benefits and kick backs and then they achieve their "rock star mentality" and think they are invincible! That's where all the problems start.

When Mulligan reads your post, he will not be worried, he will be honored and proud, that you called him one of the "big fish".

If you have ever talked, (or tried to) to Mulligan, he is very self serving, arrogant and cocky. You stand there, and in your head think, is this really Port Clinton, OH? Because this guy thinks he is in the White House! He truly believes he is invincible, and can not be taken out.

Oh, the times they are a changin'.


Perhaps I should have stated that Mulligan is a medium size fish which he is. He will snitch on his fellow OHIO county prosecutors once the time comes.

The governed

Their is defiantly a patern here that needs to be broken up. Without doing homework I can remember in recent history an ottawa county sheriff protecting an organized crime ring (Hetrick) Bratton stealing, sheriffs captain Martin buying equipment from his own supply company, Levorchick and Hickman double dippers, port Clinton fire chief and safety service director stealing scrap metal from the waterworks. This list could go on and on.

As anyone will tell you if you want to commit a crime, do it in Ottawa county.


If Mulligan is deprived of sleep (he should be), I recommend a pint of Kessler's Whiskey.

Reminder to Mulligan. You may want to wear Depends all day long. You will not have prior knowledge when the time comes.


Where in the heck is attorney Buff's opinion?