Bratton ordered to pay $1K

Former Ottawa County official fined, sentenced to one year of probation for federal theft charge
Alex Green
May 23, 2014


The price to pay for federal theft? If you’re a former sheriff, about $1,100 and a year of probation.

This was the sentence handed down Thursday to former Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton, who appeared for sentencing in federal court in Toledo on theft charges.

U.S. Northern District Court Judge Jack Zouhary sentenced Bratton to one year of probation, as well as ordering him to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 court fee.

Bratton dodged a prison sentence because he acknowledged his crime and because of the many positive character references sent to prosecutors, Zouhary said.

A special audit released in 2012 found just under $30,000 in expenses from Bratton’s Furtherance of Justice fund, or FOJ fund, did not have documentation such as a receipt. The audit reviewed Bratton’s use of the fund from 2008 and 2011. The fund is derived from local tax revenue and is given to every sheriff and prosecutor statewide, in the amount of half their annual salary.

More than $9,000 of Bratton’s FOJ expenses were deemed personal in nature and not in accordance with the fund’s restricted uses, according to the audit.

Bratton was not quite as emotional Thursday as he was during a plea hearing in January, although he did begin to cry again as he reflected on his actions.

“Just apologize,” Bratton said, when asked if he wanted to say anything prior to his sentence.

Zouhary asked Bratton if he’d learned a lesson.

“It changed my life in many different ways,” Bratton said. “It was not the way I wanted to end my career. It was stupid”

Zouhary asked if anything positive could come of the situation.

“I have to evaluate what I want to do now,” Bratton said. “I will build myself back into something, not law enforcement. It may be a struggle”

Zouhary asked Bratton to think of ways he can give back to the community.

“Perhaps a lesson learned, you could give back in a way you may not have otherwise,” Zouhary said. “You have the potential to give back in a positive way. You’re someone who can learn from a mistake and do something more”

Bratton’s attorney, Richard Kerger, said the former sheriff admitted to a horrible mistake and has paid a substantial price already.

The special audit revealed Bratton used some of the FOJ money to pay for items such as Cedar Point tickets, clothing and prescription medications.

Blaine Kelly, public information officer for the Ohio Auditor’s office, said all FOJ accounts in the state are audited annually. The special audit was launched after Bratton could not account for some expenses.

Kelly could recall one other instance in which an FOJ account was given a special audit: that of former Fairfield County Sheriff Gary DeMastry.

In 2001, a jury convicted DeMastry on a variety of charges — 32 in total, including obstruction of justice and engaging and conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity. The judge sentenced DeMastry to six years in prison in 2002.

A 2002 press release from then-visiting Judge Richard Markus said DeMastry committed many more crimes beyond the misuse of funds.

“The defendant solicited, procured and threatened his top officers — three majors and a lieutenant — to also involve themselves in criminal activity to cover his wrongdoing” Markus said at the time.

Bratton was never accused of those types of crimes.

Around the time of Bratton’s indictment, Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan said he did not believe Bratton engaged in criminal activity because he paid the money back. Mulligan has recently declined to comment on a number of cases in the county, although he recently replied to questions about Bratton via email.

“(My) office was tangentially involved,” Mulligan wrote. “Personnel from the State Auditor’s office decided when and where to seek prosecution of the case”

Normally, a local prosecutor is given a list of possible charges that could be associated with a special audit, Kelly said.

“I can’t say whether or not that occurred in this case” Kelly said.

Kelly said the investigator who provided Mulligan a summary of the special audit has since retired from his position in the auditor’s office. The Register has submitted a public records request for these documents to the state auditor’s office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Crawford represented U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach’s office during Thursday’s sentencing. Crawford declined to comment when asked if prosecution of Bratton was the local prosecutor’s responsibility following the special audit.

Crawford said Bratton was not rewarded for any type of cooperation.

The Ohio sheriff’s manual, published by the Ohio Auditor’s office, states a cashbook is to be maintained to record all receipts and expenses relating to the FOJ fund.

Bratton admitted he did not do this.

“It keeps me awake thinking so long, sometimes, I look at the clock and it’s 3 a.m.,” Bratton said. “It’s my own fault, though”



The Port Clinton News Herald published an article this morning. They referred to Bratton's misstep as "inappropriate" use of funds. He did after all pay it back (when he got caught). They would not (or could not) use the word theft. Congratulations to the Sandusky Register for calling a spade a spade. Theft is theft. How many people in prison right now were given the opportunity Mr. Bratton has been handed? How many people sitting in prison were given the opportunity to just give back what they stole and not go to prison? So many people describe Mr. Bratton as a "nice" man. Nice people do not take what is not theirs to take. The prisons are filled with "nice" people that took a wrong turn. Should they not all be given a walk or probation for making a teeny tiny mistake? I believe we all knew they would not put Mr. Bratton in prison with the people he helped convict. They would have had to spend a lot of money protecting him, and after all he is one of the good ol boy's and he knows where the bodies are buried. To his credit Mr. Bratton did admit to the mistake of not keeping receipts. However the word theft never passed his lips. This was an extremely fantastic deal for him. He gets to keep his pension and barely got a slap on the wrist. After all in the words of many local officials and residents who still stand by him, he is one of the "nice" guys. In another local paper Kevin Gladden the current Village Administrator for Genoa said he was "just shocked" that Bratton was held accountable for his actions. I find it shocking that he made such an inane comment.

Julie R.



Well said!!


So lets see here. $30,000 goes missing and has no documentation, $9,000 was documented as being personal so from my understanding that is $39,000 total that was either wasted or missing. The guy gets caught and has to spend $1,100 and some time on probation to get off the charges. Lets try this math stuff.
$37,900 in profit is not a bad haul. Makes you think crime DOES pay.

Julie R.

You got that right!


Just amazes me how white collar crimes go practically unpunished!


I wondered how long it would be until someone made a racist comment.


White collar crime has nothing to do with race! SMDH!


It was a joke, Deer, you should know my sense of humor by now.


Looks like the majority of that money went to food...If Boss Hogg ever had a twin that heffalump is it !


A criminal is a criminal no matter his claimed motivations, or how he looks. It seems to me to be both childish and shameful that Bratton's appearance enters into the matter in any form. I disagree with the punishment here (I don't think it's severe enough), but I disagree at least as much with comments like yours.


You obviuosly must be an overweight slob yourself if you take offense to my comment....have some pride in yourself for goodness sake !


I'm not, but it wouldn't matter if I was. The point here is apparently too obvious for you:

Bratton didn't do wrong because he is overweight. He isn't being punished because he is overweight. And whether you find him attractive or not, and whether YOU'RE attractive or not, has no bearing on who steals, lies, cheats, assaults, or anything else.

If you have something germane to note -- possible motivation, inadequate punishment, a past history of similar offenses, or you just think the guy's a liar who finally got caught -- go right on ahead. But insulting someone's appearance really says a whole lot more about YOU than it does about him!

Of course, if this was a story about a sheriff who couldn't apprehend a suspect because he was too out of shape to run more than a few yards, Bratton's weight would be a legitimate factor. This isn't, and it's not.

It's like those idiots that say Hillary Clinton is a "witch" or "ugly." That's a matter of personal taste. Criticize her politics all you like, but whether someone is homely or drop dead gorgeous doesn't make them a better or a worse person!


Sad. Regarding his appearance, why not question it? America is overweight & he should represent himself better for his position. Wonder why younger people question most in "authority"? Perfect example here. And deertracker is right......everyday people would get owned for similar crime.




From the article:

Kelly could recall one other instance in which an FOJ account was given a special audit: that of former Fairfield County Sheriff Gary DeMastry.

In 2001, a jury convicted DeMastry on a variety of charges — 32 in total, including obstruction of justice and engaging and conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity. The judge sentenced DeMastry to six years in prison in 2002.

A 2002 press release from then-visiting Judge Richard Markus said DeMastry committed many more crimes beyond the misuse of funds.

“The defendant solicited, procured and threatened his top officers — three majors and a lieutenant — to also involve themselves in criminal activity to cover his wrongdoing” Markus said at the time.

Bratton was never accused of those types of crimes. [end of quote]

The DeMastry case was a full on state prosecution because DeMastry didn't "share the wealth" with local officials. Hence he got the full treatment from Ohio's third world justice system.

On the other hand, Bratton has been critical to protecting a bunch of people for years in state and local offices and he and his uber connected defense counsel called in their markers. Had AG DeWine taken this case as he should of when Mulligan publicly announced he wasn't going to do anything and investigated Bratton, there would have been a bunch of state charges IMO if the same zeal as applied to DeMastry was applied to Bratton. (See current case of Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly)

Instead, the Feds only pursued a portion of the thefts related to federal funds and avoided investigating the rest of the case because to do so would have exposed too much. Instead of the state system, Bratton is treated to the more professional setting of a federal courtroom and he gets probation.

He will learn as a felon convicted of stealing from the federal government, he won't be able to obtain too many jobs let alone a cushy public funded job ever again. Bratton would be wise to retire on his public pension and devote himself to getting well, physically, mentally and spiritually. The latter two areas might include making amends to the public and individuals he harmed over the years.

There's also the possibility that there's more than meets the eye to this case as there should be for the US Attorney's office to have any credibility. Also, there is nothing to prevent DeWine from prosecuting Bratton for state crimes as there doesn't seem to be much difference between Bratton and the Athens County Sheriff case including failure to keep a cash book.


As a disbarred attorney and convicted felon, Mrs. Baumgartner, you of all people should realize there is much more to Bratton's case than meets the eye. There are very, VERY few people who know the facts, and trust me -- you're not one of them.

Ralph J.

There are very, VERY few people who know the facts, and trust me -- you're not one of them. Really? What are the facts? Were the facts brought out in court?
In addition to failing to account for $29,436 in spending, state auditors determined that Bratton had used the county’s FOJ fund to purchase clothes, food, medication, tickets to Cedar Point and other items for himself at the expense of local taxpayers.
Between January 2008 and September 2011, Bratton allegedly spent $16,510 on meals and food alone. Bratton also used the FOJ credit card for $745 in personal expenses including cigars, haircuts, jewelry, medical appointments, and clothing.
Bratton allegedly charged $1,356 in medication, $2,438 in gift cards, and $5,061 in cash withdrawals. Sheriff’s office records were able to account for only $504 of Bratton’s expenditures.


Firstly, reading comprehension is not your strong suit. The post stated there may be more than meets the eye in the Bratton case. The Feds are notorious for propping up the character and handing out deals like Bratton's to their informants.

Secondly, if VERY few people know the facts as you claim; you must be one of those with knowledge. (Bratton or his wife, his attorney, the USA's office and Judge Zouhary) Your prior posts indicate inside information from the Ottawa County Sheriff's office while Bratton was Sheriff. Ergo, you must be Bob Bratton.

Finally, you're close but earn no cigar.


What meets your eye and mine along with those few in the know are two entirely different poles of the spectrum.

First I'm accused of being Mulligan and now Bratton! Who's zoomin' who??


Maybe Aretha Franklin or Bratton's typist aka the Mrs?


Well this is fun! Here's another official statement typed by JKB for RLB to a media inquiry. Not surprisingly, it is replete with false statements and intentional omissions of facts. http://www.northcountrygazette.o...


This is fun?? Else, you bore me. How long are you going to live in the past? Oh, that's right. The past is all you have left. Keep waiting on that apology.


1) The current topic is the guilty plea of Robert L Bratton to a felony theft crime involving deception and abuse of office in federal court that cannot be appealed or challenged as well as the debarment and the loss of credibility that attends that status.

2) In light of #1, do you really think it wise to post on here under the initials JKB? There are many official letters from Robert L Bratton on the internet (and many more through a public records request)with those initials as typist http://www.ottawacountysheriff.o... ; and,

3) This poster does not seek an apology from you but instead prays for you.


In closing, who I am has absolutely no bearing on this or any other conversation here. And you had suggested that Bratton "make amends" to those he had "harmed." I can state without equivocation that's not going to happen. You were forced to take responsibility for your own actions, and look where it got you.


Who you are has bearing on this story because you elected to post here by violating posting rules, and wrongfully trying to distract from Robert Bratton's criminal conduct by deflection while selfishly misusing an alias.

Why would you read an apology to an individual that has nothing to do with this story into the suggestion that Robert Bratton make amends to those he harmed? He harmed the public, government, fellow law enforcement officers by diminishing his office, and most importantly his family members and friends.

To state without equivocation that Mr. Bratton will not make amends to those he harmed while jeopardizing family members and or friends by posting; indicates he is remains arrogant, unrepentant, and blames others for his criminal conduct and dishonesty.


1) You're the authority on debarment.
2) You post as "Babo," I as "JKB." Who cares? Not I.
3) YOU wrote that Bratton should make amends to individuals YOU feel he has harmed, supposedly yourself included.

{{{ yawn }}} I'm bored. Moving on. B'bye.


As stated earlier, you have a problem with reading comprehension.

You have no basis for stating this poster is an authority on debarment or anything for that matter. It seems you don't even understand the term, and you do not know me.

You obviously care very much about certain comments and what people think because you react to comments and people quite strongly and negatively. If you did not care you would not post and would not continue to try to drag others including your family down with you.

Finally the statement in context and as posted reads:

"Bratton would be wise to retire on his public pension and devote himself to getting well, physically, mentally and spiritually. The latter two areas MIGHT include making amends to the PUBLIC and INIDIVIDUALS he harmed over the years." [emphasis added]

The statement suggests Robert Bratton avail himself of his public pension which he is very lucky to retain, and work on his body, mind, and soul. It is common in any redemptive process to make amends through charitable service or other acts to those harmed and the statement was made in general not specific terms. You choose to make a Freudian slip by reading into the statement facts that were not present.

No one but God can speak to what is in the mind of another. IMO, it would be wise to start thinking of the only judgment that matters and less of the trappings of this world.

Ralph J.

LANCASTER, Ohio — Former Sheriff Gary DeMastry was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for using $10,880 in taxpayer money to pay for trips, dining and entertainment, and then asking subordinates to cover his tracks.


Gee, that's interesting. DeMastry stole about 1/3 of what Bratton stole from the State of Ohio and gets 6 years for it in a state prosecution. Further, there's little question that Bratton had Mulligan cover his tracks and former employees state that Bratton intimidated staff.

IMO, Bratton and Mulligan undermined the integrity of the justice system in Ottawa County for the past decade and every case in which they were involved ought to be reopened.


I repeat: You know not of what you speak.

Ralph J.

I repeat: You know not of what you speak. Do you? If so, state the facts. Are you Mulligan?

Peninsula Pundit

Yeah, JKB, speak up or shut up.
More to the point is Mulligan has Drug Task Force officer who plainly perjured themselves in a court of law and Mulligan has not taken ONE action against them.
The only reason that could possibly be is that Mulligan is complicit in that perjury and is already been threatened that if he blows the whistle on them, they'll blow a foghorn on him.

Ralph J.

The case against DeMastry was tried by a special prosecutor from outside the county. Kelly's case is similar.
Attorney General Mike Dewine is working as a special prosecutor, but using that fact to divide a jury can be risky.

Ralph J.

I expected Bratton would get a light sentence if he cooperated with the Feds. I was surprised by the lack of prison time or house arrest. Maybe Bratton provided useful information to the Feds but I would not hold my breath. There is a way to remove Mulligan from office for neglect or misconduct. Mulligan refused to indict Bratton though the evidence was there yet he indicts some young man for peeking into windows. Don't expect DeWine to do anything.

Julie R.

The justice system in Ohio is a joke. It's why OHIO is rated #1 as the most corrupt state in the country.

Julie R.

The corrupt Erie County courts and the sheriff's department (under the leadership of the former sheriff Terry Lyons) sure did "steal" enough from that illegal scam sheriff sale of my deceased mother & stepfather's house in Huron. They did that by taking close to $50K right off the top, including, but not limited to, over $2 thousand for sheriff sale fees and over $4 thousand for clerk of court fees.

Had it not been for the former clerk of court Barb Johnson returning from a medical leave almost three years later and discovering that her employees had deposited the almost $90K that was left from that scam sale into the clerk of court's account without a court order, they would have stole that, too. That's because the dirty intent was to continue to ignore the legitimate complaints that were filed and sit on the money for 5 years. After 5 years the jokes then could have said it was "unclaimed funds" and it would have gone to the county.

The bottom line is ---- they ALL steal.


You are so right! SMDH!!!!


Erie County needs to do this:

Julie R.

Bratton dodged a prison sentence because he acknowledged his crime?

What a lame crock of bullsh*t that is.

Ralph J.

JKB has nothing to offer except to lob personal attacks at Babo. No comments on the Mulligan stories but personal attacks against Babo and Elsebeth Baumgartner. I don't care if Babo is Elsebeth Baumgartner, Matt Westerhold or somebody employed by the Sandusky Register. I don't care if Babo is Howdy Doody for that matter. Babo's comments have offered a wealth of information related to Sandusky County, Ottawa County and the DeWine news stories. I have asked JKB about those "facts" known by "very, VERY few people" which probably were kept a secret from the courts and the Sandusky Register. I found letters online from Bratton and I ask JKB what are the duties of the Ottawa County Sheriff's office Director Of Finance? How could Bratton make a "mistake" over and over again through the years by misspending FOJ money, from federal, state and county levels? The state auditor did provide a handbook for sheriff's on record keeping and spending parameters of spending funds. What say you JKB? What are the facts about Bratton that you hold back on? Maybe besides those cigars, he also bought a white suit and cowboy hat? Are those some of the facts known by very very few people, JKB?


Ralph J.

Where did Bob, I mean JKB go? I wanted to know about those facts that very very few people knew about. Oh well. JKB had nothing to offer except being a troll. I still want to know why the Ottawa County Sheriff's office needed a Director Of Finance. I can see the Franklin County Sheriff's office having a Finance Department because of the very very large budget and very very large staff. But the Ottawa County Sheriff's office needed one too? Why? The OC Sheriff's office Director Of Finance should have all records of Bob's purchases. The Franklin County Sheriff's Finance Department oversees all financial and purchasing matters of the Sheriff's Office. It directs the annual performance-based program budgets for the office, which includes monitoring expenditures and performance measures, producing financial reports and projections, conducting financial analysis, and implementing fiscal control policies and procedures. This department represents the Sheriff by presenting budget, fiscal, and contract requests before the Board of County Commissioners for approval. The number of budget organizations of the Sheriff's Office has increased from 20 in 2001 to 45 in 2014. The general fund expense budget for 2014 is $100,905,443, while the all funds budget is $108,473,013.
The Finance Department also develops and administers contracts for police and dispatching services. Finance staff is responsible for managing all grants received by the Sheriff's Office including submitting applications and financial reports. Other duties of the department include writing competitive bid documents for products and services utilized by the office. Finance staff also has the responsibility for ordering, receiving, storing and distributing office supplies for the Sheriff's Office, as well as food, housekeeping, and laundry supplies for the correctional facilities.


Ralph J.

325.071 Allowance for expenses that sheriff incurs in performance of sheriff's official duties and in furtherance of justice.

There shall be allowed annually to the sheriff, in addition to all salary and allowances otherwise provided by law, an amount equal to one-half of the official salary allowed under division (A) of section 325.06 and section 325.18 of the Revised Code, to provide for expenses that the sheriff incurs in the performance of the sheriff's official duties and in the furtherance of justice. Upon the order of the sheriff, the county auditor shall draw the auditor's warrant on the county treasurer, payable to the sheriff or any other person as the order designates, for the amount the order requires. The amounts the order requires, not exceeding the amount provided by this section, shall be paid out of the general fund of the county.

Nothing shall be paid under this section until the sheriff gives bond to the state in an amount not less than the sheriff's official salary, to be fixed by the court of common pleas or the probate court, with sureties to be approved by either of those courts. The bond shall be conditioned that the sheriff will faithfully discharge all the duties enjoined upon the sheriff, and pay over all moneys the sheriff receives in an official capacity. The bond, with the approval of the court of common pleas or the probate court of the amount of the bond and the sureties on the bond, shall be deposited with the county treasurer.

The sheriff annually, before the first Monday of January, shall file with the county auditor an itemized statement, verified by the sheriff, as to the manner in which the fund provided by this section has been expended during the current year, and, if any part of that fund remains in the sheriff's hands unexpended, forthwith shall pay the remainder into the county treasury.

Ralph J.

Chapter 311: SHERIFF

Ralph J.


Ralph J.

While I am at it, where were the Ottawa County Auditor and Treasurer while Bratton was misspending all of the money? Why didn't they fulfill their duties as required?


All of them along with Prosecutor Mulligan, are from the same political party (D) as Bratton and have the same self serving attitude. It's not about public service but ensuring the Democratic cabal continues to run things and looks out for one another. It's a lot like Sandusky and Erie Counties with the same roles just different actors.

However, maybe someone will be inspired in Ottawa County to seek a special prosecution from the AG's office to get to the bottom of how Bratton got away with it in view of the fact that DeWine is currently prosecuting the Athens County Sheriff for essentially the same conduct.