Attorney: Case ‘politically motivated’

A Port Clinton defense attorney has accused the Ottawa County prosecutor’s office of fast-tracking an attempted burglary case to favor the victim, state Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba.
Alex Green
Dec 18, 2013

 

The suspect — Alexander Reitzel, 19, of Port Clinton — was indicted Thursday on two counts of attempted burglary. The indictment came five days after he allegedly tried to break into Redfern’s $845,000 home in Catawba Island Township. The home is currently up for sale.

Reitzel’s attorney, Tom DeBacco, said the indictment came much too quickly.

“(Reitzel) gets indicted within five days for two felonies of the third degree,” DeBacco said. “It’s wrong, it’s politically motivated”

DeBacco said he believes Reitzel is innocent and is being treated unfairly because of Redfern’s political stature.

“In no way did he try to break into Chris Redfern’s house,” DeBacco said. “There was a ‘For sale’ sign in the front yard. You figure it out”

Redfern said he was in Pennsylvania when he randomly decided to watch the video surveillance that monitors the interior and exterior of his Catawba home. The video is accessible remotely.

“The way some people use their phone to look at Facebook or Twitter, I’m one of those crazy people who watches my video surveillance cameras” Redfern said.

He said he watched the surveillance footage for about an hour, during which time Reitzel was allegedly on his property.   

Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan’s office provided copies of the video footage to the Register.

The video, about 45 minutes long, shows a man in a red-and-black jacket on the property at various points, at times fiddling with the knobs to doors at the back porch.

At one point, another man is seen with the suspect.

Reitzel later told Catawba Island police he saw a “For sale” sign in the yard, and he was peering through the windows and back door to look at the home’s interior, according to police.

Redfern and Mulligan denied any allegations of collusion; they both said the video footage provided sufficient evidence for an indictment.

“To suggest that in some way I manipulated the system — I’m looking for Mr. DeBacco to apologize,” Redfern said.

Mulligan said grand jury indictments are handed down every two to four weeks.

“(The accusation) is unsubstantiated” Mulligan said, adding the indictment was justified based on evidence he gathered with help from assistant prosecutor Andrew Bigler and his staff.

“(Reitzel) was caught in the act,” Mulligan said. “He was observed by the homeowner over the course of an hour, watching in real time”

Reitzel was released from the Ottawa County jail Monday on $30,000 bond.

Comments

White Owl

It's politically motivated.

mikeylikesit

you better believe it!

JudgeMeNot

“The video doesn’t lie.”

Louise

That is correct. The video shows a young man in broad daylight turning a door knob.

Licorice Schtick

Just by being there, he's trespassing. And why does one fiddle with door knobs, if not to get in? You'd feel differently if it were YOUR house. Or are you personally acquainted with the accused?

Factitious

In suburban break-ins, high among the likely suspects are the neighborhood "kids," i.e. teen-age minors or young adults still living with parents. That goes double if any of their buddies are visiting. What may start as curiosity and then impulsivity ends in crime. This looks like a classic case.

Louise

Trespassing-yes. Two third degree felonies-no!

areyt55

Jesus`s postlng is terrific... last wednesday I bought a top of the range BMW M3 since getting a check for $6747 this-past/five weeks and-also, $10k lass month. with-out a doubt this is the nicest-work I've ever had. I began this 5 months ago and right away started making a nice over $71, p/h. view website http://goo.gl/f6e95V

sandtown born a...

For sure it is 5 days really

White Owl

Also, could the media please start using a more recent photo of Chris and explain how as a life long politician he is able to afford the home?

Peninsula Pundit

I wonder this same thing about all public officials and the lavish homes they have, from the cop on down.
+1

Kingsin

Well, politically motivated but I'm not sure any laws had actually been broken- maybe trespass but not B&E. What really hurts is the fact that not too many 19 yr olds have $845,000, so you know he's up to no good, but with a for sale sign in the yard it makes it a bit murky in my opinion. A good attorney should be able to get this kid off (not that he should however). Kind of interested in seeing how this turns out. Also, nothing like watching a video for 45 minutes without calling the cops, so you know he was hoping the kid would pop a window and really hang himself.

mikeylikesit

im not even sure about trespassing. if a home has a for sale sign I would expect people to stop and look. I know that it is still private property even if it's for sale, but unless there's more to the video that we didn't see I don't think they have a case. he may have been up to no good. that's the feeling I get too, but I think they are just trying to railroad this guy. politics as usual..

Licorice Schtick

That makes no sense. You say, "He may have been up to no good." What no good? Getting in the house, right? That's crime he was charged with. How is that railroading? Was he charge with B&E and you think it should be ATTEMPTED B&E? He should cop a plea and save the taxpayers some money. But it looks like he hopes to buy is way out of it instead.

And the defense that this 19-year-old is in the market for a $800K home is just silly.

The man's attorney is out of line and owes Redfern an apology.

mikeylikesit

it would make sense if you pulled your head out of your a$$.

White Owl

Here's some additional facts that support the kid's story. He lives in the neighborhood. He had eaten with his family at the Catawba Island Club (also in the neighborhood) He took a walk afterward, noticed the house for sale, and told his parents about it. The Auditor's site reports that Cynthia Reitzel owns a bunch of property on Catawba Island as Trustee in the area and can probably buy the house and Redfern too!

That's probably the motive for Redfern. He's likely envious of the family and is projecting his own behavior onto this kid for some perceived slight in Catawba Island social circles. He assumed the kid was acting how he would have acted at his age, so he abuses his political power to scandalize the kid and his family.

Licorice Schtick

"He told his parents about it." Wow, that's some seriously inside information.

And the comment about Redfern's motives? For what? Calling the cops? What would you do?

White Owl

Redfern didn't call the local cops. He waited and called top officials.

What would I do? I would call my local police department after a couple of minutes of watching video and ask them to check out my home. I would let officers on the scene make the determination of whether the young man should be charged.

Also, I would likely ask the officers to put the young man on the phone and have him explain his behavior to me. Once I learned it was a neighbor's son, I would have wished him and his family Merry Christmas.

Louise

I read in one report that he wanted his parents to buy it. But yeah- watching for 45 min and there was clearly no break and enter seems almost like a set up.

Licorice Schtick

He can tell it to the judge.

meowmix

What difference does it make if he was indicted today or next week really? I'd say this is more of an attempt by the kid's attorney to divert attention from the actual crime. How much heck would you raise with the county prosecutor if it was YOUR HOUSE and he elected to not even charge the kid? Face it, the kid was up to no good. He'll get it pled down to a lesser charge and hopefully will learn a good lesson from it!

Louise

The difference was he was indicted BEFORE being arrested on a Friday afternoon which made him have to wait in jail until Monday for a judge.

White Owl

Good point! Also, by indicting the kid instead of pressing misdemeanor charges in Municipal Court, Redfern and Mulligan can claim a Grand Jury found probable cause so when the kid is acquitted it's tough to sue for malicious prosecution.

He was also entitled to be summoned to court on this case instead of arrested on a Friday and that coupled with the ridiculous bond reeks of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of power.

Louise

Oh geez- this case is amazingly ridiculous! I just never knew a person could be indicted before even having a clue about being arrested. How could that happen if he was entitled to a court summons first?

JudgeMeNot

^^clueless^^

White Owl

If it was my or your house the prosecutor wouldn't indict the kid...that's the point. He would tell you or me that we have to contact the police department, have them investigate and then maybe the police would file a misdemeanor trespassing charge in municipal court.

It's the fact that a very low level crime (if it is a crime) got priority before the grand jury and trumped up to a felony because of the political power (and close friendship to the prosecutor) of the alleged victim.

Licorice Schtick

I don't know where you're from, but on our planet, My Friend, if you get caught trying to get into some else' empty house, you go away in cuffs and get charged. You working for the lawyer?

This is desperation on the part of the defense. Going to the court of public opinion can backfire. In this case, it should.

Louise

Charged with what? If it had been your house do you think this would have happened?
But I guess someone made that point already.

White Owl

Knocking on doors and trying the door handle on a house that is For Sale does not get one arrested. If that were the case, door to door evangelists and kids selling stuff would all face trespassing charges and arrest.

Mr. Redfern should have called his township police to check it out. They would make the call on whether the kid should be arrested. He did not. My guess is the local police know the kid and the family and would have told Redfern this is at best a case of trespassing.
So, Redfern called his personal friend the Sheriff.

Instead of the local police investigating and filing misdemeanor trespassing charges in Municipal Court, the prosecutor (also a close friend) takes the case from the Sheriff. He conducts the investigation, something prosecutors are not allowed to do.

Prosecutor Mulligan then rushes to secretly indict the kid on a Thursday on not one but two third degree felonies for a continuing course of conduct. Secret indictments are used for high risk dangerous alleged criminals who pose a threat to the community or a high risk of flight. This kid was neither a violent. dangerous person nor did he pose any risk of flight.

Also, there is a presumption of summons not arrest on an indictment for non violent crimes because it costs a lot of money to arrest and jail people. To top it all off they arrest the kid on a Friday so he doesn't get a bond hearing and he sits over the weekend.

In my opinion, the defense is rightfully pointing out abuse of power and misuse of public resources by Redfern and Mulligan.

4-wheeler al

was there signs 0n lot stating about permission too look at the house for sale.no trespassing signs or contact person on house for sale.

Kingsin

A lot of good points on all sides, that's why I said it will be interesting in how it turns out. Do I think the kid was up to no good?- yeah. I think if I had a house for sale and called the cops with this same info they would probably ask; anything broken?- no. anything stolen?- no. any property damage?- no. OK- call us back when an actual crime has occurred. At the same time I don't want to uphold the actions of a potential burglar. Interesting

Kingsin

Don't know about anybody else but I've stopped to look at cars for sale and looked through the windows and jiggled the handle to look inside- Dang, I'm a felon and didn't even realize it! Better turn myself in soon. Still can't get over the fact that he watched for 45 minutes when the average person would have called the cops after about 4.5 seconds if they felt someone was up to no good.

Finn Finn

Politically motivated, absolutely. Mulligan and Redfern can protest all they want but no one believes them. In a few years, Mulligan will look to Redfern for pay back, probably some kind of judgeship. And the "I'm looking for Mr. DeBacco to apologize" is the typical Redfern M.O. When being attacked, immediately go on the offensive. Not very inventive, but pure Redfern.

Darwin's choice

If only refern would/could act as quickly as a rep. for the area!!

DickTracey

Ok, first off, the poor 82 year old Ottawa County lady that was exploited for over $200,000, is STILL waiting for an indictment, and it's been over a year!! There are multiple crimes in that case, a lot more serious than this "attempt " at a "possible" burglary.

And second, ATTN Tom DeBacco, don't worry, Mulligan has a losing record as a trial lawyer. I'm sure you remember the PC teacher/coach that he had 82 counts on and not a single one stuck! You will have fun with this one!

And last but not least, YES, it is all politics, if Redfern was a Republican, he would be sitting there waiting for a return call from Mulligan, like the old lady has been for a year.

White Owl

LOL! However, to make it all the more obvious that this is political, Mulligan met with the alleged thief's attorney searching for reasons to avoid indicting his client! Didn't meet with DeBacco though before indicting, arresting and jailing this kid.

It would be great if DeBacco took this to the box, won, and sued Redfern and Mulligan for malicious prosecution. Let's hear Redfern's explanation of why he waited 45 minutes and just didn't ask the police to check it out and ask the young man to leave. As Redfern himself admits: He's "crazy".

Centauri

"Ok, first off, the poor 82 year old Ottawa County lady that was exploited for over $200,000, is STILL waiting for an indictment, and it's been over a year!!"

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"Elderly exploitation case ongoing"

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"A Norwalk man who stole $11,000 from an 78-year-old man he met at Alcoholics Anonymous received a suspended prison sentence, but was ordered to repay the money, according to Ottawa County court records."

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan has yet to make up his mind on a possible $200,000 theft from the elderly case. But that’s not to say he hasn’t done anything. In an unorthodox pre-trial, pre-charges move, Mulligan sent a letter and all his evidence to the suspect’s attorney last week."

"Mulligan refused to talk about his strategy on the record, but Wisehart confirmed he received a letter and a thick case file from the prosecutor."

http://www.portclintonnewsherald...
"According to Ottawa County Prosecutor's Office reports, a grand jury meeting Feb. 26 could decide whether a Catawba woman, and possibly another person, face charges after they were accused by family members of an 81-year-old widow of ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two-year period."

DickTracey

Ahhh, Mulligans infamous form letter! He sends the same letter out to perps, and tells them they have 30 days to respond to the accusations! I have seen the letter, he changes the names and possible charges, and basically let's you fix the wrong, so that he doesn't have to do his job!

I have never seen a more LAZY prosecutor in my life!!

Stay classy Ottawa County, Vote Democrat!! Even if they are losers!

SamAdams

Trespass? Okay, maybe. But attempted burglary? Really? Okay. Did the investigation show damage to doors or windows where the alleged burglar attempted to enter? No? Does the video show more than a "Curious George" peeping through windows or doors? Then how was burglary "attempted?"

Political. Gee, you think?

P.S. I can't afford an $845,000 house either, but that doesn't mean curiosity hasn't prompted me to go on tours of homes I'd never be able to buy! In fact, I'm not in the market right now for a house at ANY price, but do I still occasionally check out open houses? Sure! It's a great idea-generator if nothing else, and something to do on an otherwise dull afternoon at worst. So let's not pretend that an actual intent to buy (or a lack thereof) has anything to do with anything here, either!

Capt. Ford

Catawba Isl Twp ploice report via the News Hearald says even the cobwebs are still in place.

Darkhorse

Darwin, you are too funny but true. How does someone watch a video for 45 minutes and not call the cops out right way to take a look see?

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

That guy was not looking at the house. He was there up to no good . The video's are on other sites , find the 45.07 one and see for yourself. BTW no dog ,and he was talking to someone.

Louise

Was he talking to himself?

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

Maybe ,or on a Bluetooth?

Centauri

"Was he talking to himself?"

Maybe talking on a cell phone.

Louise

Was he talking to himself?

The Big Dog's back

Politically motivated? I sure know the comments from the right wingnuts are politically motivated.

concernedtruth

I haven't trusted or liked Redfern since he came into view in the political arena. this is a bogus indictment. I have looked in homes for sale or rent and looked for over 15 minutes on the property, I wasn't trying to break in and steal anything. this is just wrong. Come on Chris get to work doing something for your constituents not just the liberal left butt smooching!

Centauri

http://www.zillow.com/homedetail...
Lots of photos, take a tour of the home.

Centauri
Centauri

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"In Danbury Township, business is business or it's something else"

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"Former Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton misused about $10,000 in taxpayer money, purchasing items like shoes, neckties, belts, cigars, Cedar Point passes and prescription medications, a state audit found."

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"A Port Clinton administrator faces two felony charges in connection with stolen city-owned scrap metal."

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"An 81-year-old Marblehead woman's good intentions could cost her $200,000, but it will be up to Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan whether anyone will face criminal charges."

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"Pot growing case tossed Appeals Court: Police manufactured evidence"

White Owl

Thank you for providing the very interesting links.

The second article from 2012 and former Sheriff Bratton's misappropriation of public funds raises some interesting questions concerning Bratton's purchase with public funds of Rx drugs on the internet when he had prescription insurance through the county.

I suspect Bratton bought drugs on the internet to avoid detection. His doctor would have no record of the drugs; the insurance company would have no record of the drugs; and most importantly the Ohio drug reporting system on controlled substances would have no record of the drugs.

It is not too late to have Bratton criminally charged for his blatant theft in office. The Ohio Ethics Commission has a duty to investigate and along with the Auditor of State could act as special prosecutors as it is obvious Mulligan should have recused himself. In any event it's an outstanding example of Mulligan's double standards.

Louise

I never knew someone could be SECRETLY indicted before being arrested!

meowmix

Why then Louise, do you think they call them SECRET INDICTMENTS?????

Darwin's choice

The criminal is in the center photo above, correct?

Pete

Yes. You can easily tell by the shifty eyes and the giant 5-head so prominent in the picture.

Louise

That is correct!

reddog

This is Mr. Redfern's HOME - whatever you think about his politics, his family was on vacation in Pennsylvania when this happened. I want to know how any of you would feel if a 19 year old high school junior came up an embankment, climbed over a wrought iron fence and tried to open your doors and windows for 45 minutes. This kid, along with another person can be HEARD on the video but not seen, trying for FORTY FIVE MINUTES, going from windows to door to door trying to OPEN them. And if you actually watch and listen to the video, you can hear very loud banging as if someone is hitting the door with something. Tom Debacco's house is for sale. Does that mean that strangers can go to HIS house and try opening doors and windows for FORTY FIVE MINUTES? He has a family, children... you people think this is okay? People get arrested every day for stuff like this, this one is only on your radar because the victim is high profile. Stop being a hypocrite. If your home was being violated, if you had small children and a family to worry about, I think you would want some culpability for a stranger violating your home like that.

And for those of you who think he "watched" for 45 minutes without calling the cops, you clearly don't understand how Dropcam works. It stores video for up to 7 days. It appears that the homeowner called the cops when he first saw it happening - it had been going on for a period of time that he was able to capture and give to the authorities.

And in case you all are wondering... this is not this young man's first and only legal problem. Jeesh, people.

Darwin's choice

Is your last name Redfern?

You sure are sucking up.......

White Owl

He's the family dog.

meowmix

Totally agree with you Red--If it was my home I'd be pretty darn p.o'ed at ANYONE sneaking around it. If I was that kid's parents, the very last thing I'd do it try to justify what the hell he was doing if I knew deep down inside he was up to something. Hey, I'm no big fan of Refern's but I'm pretty darn tired of the home invasions, B&E's, ATTEMPTED B&E's and thefts being perpetuated constantly now. Bottom line is, Redfern didn't do anything wrong, but I'm sure this kid was planning on it.

techie823's picture
techie823

The company that installed the system used some pretty cheap cameras, no facial detail from ~10 feet?? I own a computer business and install surveillance systems for a living, if he paid for that he was taken on the setup, dropcam for a million dollar house is just plain retarded.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

Another thing is the 45.07 min video only shows views from one cam, there has to be more cams in the house . Saving for court maybe ?

techie823's picture
techie823

Is there a link to the video I missed? I was going off the first picture above. If it was an attempted B&E, why(like others stated) would you watch for 45 minutes. Police response to an elected officials home should be faster than regular residential?? Something smells rotten, coming from Ottawa County I wouldn't expect anything less.

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

It was on the PC herald ,they took it done and left 4 short clips .Like I said the whole thing and others are saved for court ,would be my guess.

techie823's picture
techie823

Oh, P.C. resident here, I think that paper is a joke, esp the 7 day trial to view online article's, needless to say I don't go to the website much

reddog

Ha, no! I'm not a Redfern that's for sure. But I AM husband and I have children and a wife to look after and protect and I am appalled that anyone would somehow justify this felonious behavior. I am also a resident of Ottawa County and my kids go to Port Clinton city schools where this 19 year old young man is still in High School and tongues are wagging about other "issues" this young man has. That 19 year old young MAN wasn't there to look at purchasing an expensive home. And for those of you who are trying to justify this man's actions, you should know that it IS illegal to walk up to someone's home and try to open their doors and/or windows... there was no Realtor "Open House." Jeez, people! I imagine myself in that situation and I picture my wife or one of my own children being in that house. It's terrifying and disturbing and the man should be held accountable REGARDLESS of who the home belongs to.

DickTracey

Ok, reddog, whatever you say. Should we add attempted rape charges on him too? After all, he "might " have raped someone, "if" he got inside, and "if" someone were home.

And then let's charge him with arson too, cause I "think" he "might" have started it on fire , "if" he got inside!

Mulligan is a pathetic prosecutor, and now he thinks he is a psychic too? He can read the perps mind, he knew what his intentions were!

I'm a mind reader too, I see an editorial cartoon in the future, with Redfern holding Mulligans little PUPPET STRINGS!!

I also know who Mulligan will bring in to testify, Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda, the Been brothers! Haha!

Also, reddog, you just created a new screen name for this story, so you are obviously more involved in this case than just a caring Ottatwa County husband.

reddog

sorry, didn't mean to clog up with double entries.

reddog

I live in this community where this crime occurred and I know of this kid. Quite frankly, this is the only story I've felt was relevant to comment about in recent past. For the record, I've had a subscription to the Sandusky Register with the Screen name RedDog for years. This case hits close to home for me and my family as this happened less than two and a half miles from our house. I don't even KNOW the prosecutor or the Redferns but I've seen this kid before, met the family and I'm NOT surprised to learn he is in trouble.

I see now that "comments" are for people with grudges and political agendas. Many of you SAY you want fairness, you want accountability for criminal action, but apparently if the victim lives in a nice house they aren't entitled to be concerned for the safety of their family. I'm giving fair warning that anyone comes to MY house trying to open MY doors and windows they will be looking down the barrel of a gun. I won't care how much they paid their lawyer to claim that their ADULT son is ADD. And ANY way you look at it, trying to waltz into someone else's locked home is a crime.

DickTracey

Reddog, as a parent then, you should be ashamed. You are making accusations against a kid you have only "seen" not met. And you are judging him, based on "tongues wagging" in the halls of a High School.

Practice what you preach reddog, these comments are for people who hold grudges? Sounds like you are a hater of rich kids!

meowmix

Oh brother. What kind of parent sanctions their kid to go roaming the neighbor peeking in windows and checking to see if the doors and windows are locked?

meowmix

AGREEING WITH REDDOG! Seems to me the ones claiming political bias are the ones who can't stand Redfern or Mulligan. They're staying very mute on the subject of it would have been their home. Debacco is pretty smart fella, --sorta like a rape case you know? Make the victim look like she was asking for it right?

Centauri

"He said he watched the surveillance footage for about an hour, during which time Reitzel was allegedly on his property."

Why didn't Redfern call the police at the first sign of a stranger on his property for a security check?

Louise

Exactly! I don't know how a typical burgler operates but I would think if you were gonna break and enter you wouldn't just hang around the property.

Centauri

Would Mulligan go after a registered Democrat if the situation was the same?

I checked the voting record of Alexander but no party affiliation listed. (4217 E FIRELANDS BLVD)

Using the same address, I checked the party affiliations of Cynthia L. and Jeffery L. who I believe to be Alexander's parents. Both are registered Republicans. (4217 E FIRELANDS BLVD"

All of the other REITZELs in Ottawa County, Ohio are also registered Republicans or independents.

Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted.
Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted.
Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted.
Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted.

(LINK DELETED) I can't even use TinyURL to post the link.
Check the REITZEL name in Ottawa County, Ohio. There are other REITZEL names in other counties of OHIO.

Get Republican Mike DeWine to look into this case. DeWine will get more points to look into this case and many more additional points if anything improper is found.

Centauri

I tried several ways to post the link but I keep tripping the SPAM filter.

Maybe the Sandusky Register doesn't want me to post links.

Centauri

I posted the SR link to this story and I still keep tripping the SPAM filter.

I can't post a link to the Sandusky Register home page due to the SPAM filter.

Licorice Schtick

The link was to another newspaper. Perhaps that's now a TOS violation?

The opposition will be silenced.

tonto

House hunting? Right!! What 19 year old kid can afford a $800,000 home let alone any home. Lets say he was house hunting. Who grabs the door handle to see if it's open. If it was open what was he going to do? Take a walk around inside to see the lay out. Put this dirtbag way now before he does something a lot worse.

tonto

House hunting? Right!! What 19 year old kid can afford a $800,000 home let alone any home. Lets say he was house hunting. Who grabs the door handle to see if it's open. If it was open what was he going to do? Take a walk around inside to see the lay out. Put this dirtbag way now before he does something a lot worse.