Mulligan opted out

Ottawa County prosecutor declined to prosecute Bratton; feels fallout from other decisions
Alex Green
Jul 6, 2014

 

He's claimed he had almost no role in the prosecution of former Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton, or made any decision about it. 

But Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan appears to have opted out — declining to prosecute Bratton — prompting the Ohio Auditor to ask the U.S. Attorney to prosecute Bratton on theft charges. 

Bratton was indicted January and later pleaded guilty. He was sentenced last month in U.S. District Court to one year's probation on federal theft charges for taking about $9,000 from the county's Furtherance of Justice Fund, a public account. 

Federal prosecutors and the state auditor's office both have refused to provide comment or respond to questions since the indictment on the decision to federally prosecute Bratton, or whether there are other ongoing federal investigations related or similar to the Bratton case. 

Mulligan told the Register he was only "tangentially" involved in the decision to prosecute Bratton, but the auditor's office appears to have asked Mulligan directly to consider filing local charges, according to a series of emails sent among auditor's office employees. 

"We're done but the county prosecutor hasn't made his decision not to prosecute yet," wrote Curt Muehling, a special investigator with the auditor's office, in an email exchange Feb. 23, 2012, with another auditor's office employee.

Muehling, a former Sandusky police detective, was responding to a request to close the file on the investigation of Bratton and the FOJ fund.  

Three weeks later — in March 2012 — the special audit was made public. It determined $9,000 was stolen, and that a total of $29,000 in expenditures was not properly documented while Bratton managed the account as sheriff from 2008 to 2011. 

Mulligan, who has come under fire from some critics for allegedly showing a cronyism with other elected officials and being non-responsive to members of the general public, declared he had the "utmost respect" for Bratton after Bratton was indicted.

He's also taken heat from some victims and their families for arranging plea deals in at least two felony violence cases without consulting the victims.

Mulligan also dragged his feet last year after the Danbury police filed a report of an elderly financial abuse case in which a woman was allegedly bilked out of more than $200,000. The Ohio Attorney General's office is currently reviewing that investigation.

The prosecutor also has been questioned about his decision to pursue felony charges against a man who was on state Rep. Chris Redfern's property in Catawba, which was being marketed for sale at that time. The man's attorney contends Mulligan overcharged and fast-tracked the case as a favor to Redfern. 

Comments

MrSandusky

Why do the people in Northern Ohio keep allowing these Prosecutors to be have they way they do?

Is it pure apathy? Everyone with half a clue knew how dirty Bratton was the entire time. Sad part is that I think most people know about Baxter and Mulligan as well, but do not worry about it because it is always someone else's problem...

SamAdams

I think it's a combination of two things: Apathy, and the tendency to vote solely based on the letter after a candidate's name rather than qualification, job performance, etc.

What the apathetic and the ignorant conveniently forget is that it's NOT "someone else's problem," even if they (or someone they care about) never gets caught up in the judicial system. After all, we ALL pay the salaries of public officials, and we ALL make up shortfalls from inefficiencies, wrongdoing (including the costs of special investigations), etc.

Julie R.

LIKE.

Finn Finn

Add plain old laziness, as in not having the "ambition", for lack of a better word, to educate oneself about issues, candidates, how the process works, etc., which brings about the ignorance. Frustrating, but I don't know how you get people motivated to take an interest.

Peninsula Pundit

'I think it's a combination of two things: Apathy, and the tendency to vote solely based on the letter after a candidate's name rather than qualification, job performance, etc.'

He ran unopposed last time around. I didn't vote for him and it didn't matter. So a letter behind the name didn't have squat to do with it. Your comment is an indicator as to why some of this happens: As long as we, the people, fight among ourselves about a letter behind the name, we'll never get together to throw all the bums out. And that is what they count on, Republicans and Democrats in the entrenched bureaucracy. The two-party system has things so locked up that a thrid party candidate can't even get on the ballot in Ohio.

SamAdams

Yes, I realize that. But that's where the apathy comes in. People don't care. If it's not THEIR ox being gored, what does it matter to them, right?

Now COMBINE the apathy and the ignorant straight-party-line-every-time voter, and the overall results of an election all too often see an unqualified (whether through laziness, incompetence, or outright criminality) candidate land in office.

You're right about the "entrenched" aspect, too, but that's part and parcel of the party "loyalty" (or "willful blindness" as it more accurately might be termed). As an aside, let's not even get started on those who are SO party loyal that, once "their" man is in office, they consistently defend the indefensible, or twist the already perverse to pretend that "their" guy is doing a great job...

Ralph J.

LIKE!

richrs

I don't know about the counties around Erie, and don't care, but when was the last time someone ran against Baxter. As long as he keeps running unopposed, he'll keep being elected prosecutor.

Peninsula Pundit

This is quite true.

holysee

What typical sentence would "average joe" get for stealing 9 grand from his employer?
Could someone please weigh in on this question?

meowmix

I would guess that if he repaid the $9,000 in full like Bratton did, and did not have a lengthly criminal record, he/she would likely be a candidate for the diversion program---rightly so. Why destroy a person's entire life for an extremely stupid mistake that hurt no one? Bratton is a good guy. He has been through enough.

Babo

Obviously you are a friend of Bob Bratton. Why not ask him how many politically unconnected people especially minorities or women, his office and Prosecutor Mulligan shipped to prison for thefts or fraud under $29,000? (It was $29,000 that could not be accounted for by Bratton)

meowmix

I have seen him maybe twice in my entire life--have never spoken to him though. Sheriff Bratton, nor Prosecutor Mulligan "ships" anyone to prison. Seems to me that would be a Judge's responsibility to sentence someone to prison.
I am aware of a few years back, an employee for a nursing home was suspected of stealing over $50,000 from it's residents. That person didn't spend a night in jail, got diversion, never repaid a dime. Also, if there is no paper trail for the missing $29,000 then he should be held accountable for it. But, it is not up to Bratton to prove his guilt...it is up to auditors to find the wrong doing.

Babo

Sure the judge sentences the people to prison, but only after some law enforcement agency such as the Sheriff and the prosecutor actually investigate, obtain the indictment and prosecute the case. Officers and the prosecutor then make a recommendation to the judge on sentencing, after which the Sheriff's office does in fact "ship" the defendant to prison.

Your nursing home employee is an outstanding example of the problem. It was Mark Mulligan who recommended the county (government) employee get diversion instead of prison time. Once the prosecutor decided to offer a politically connected person diversion for a $50,000 theft it was out of the judge's hand. There are many examples of large thefts committed by political friends of Mulligan and or the Sheriff that are not fully prosecuted.

Finally, I know there is no paper trail to support the expenditure of $29,000 because the Auditor of the State of Ohio INVESTIGATED the case, FOUND the wrongdoing, and Prosecutor Mulligan REFUSED TO PROSECUTE the case just as he did in the past and continues to do for many of his political allies.

meowmix

Actually Babo-- the Adult Probation Dept. of most counties conducts a pre-sentence investigation of the offender and makes the recommendation in their report to the judge what kind of sentence the offender deserves. A Prosecutor can also suggest a plea deal of some type but ultimately, it is up the the JUDGE. My nursing home employee example was handled by the Attorney General's Office since federal funds were involved--not the county prosecutor. Also, the nursing home in question was not being as cooperative as they should have been, they after all, had a business to run and didn't want everyone to know they hired a thief for an employee who stole grandma's money.
Dishonesty comes in all forms--I don't hold anyone, regardless of what they do, any more or less of a criminal due to the job they hold.
Is the Priest who murdered the nun in Toledo a few years back somehow "less" of a murderer because he is a holy man or is he more of one because he is--compared to your other, everyday murderer?

MrSandusky

Meowmix seems to know a lot about the county court workings but yet says that they do not know Bratton. Yeah....we believe you...

Babo

@ Meow Mix:

I'll try to keep this simple:

1) Yes the probation department usually conducts a PSI, but the prosecution and defense can and do give their recommended sentence at the sentencing hearing. Yes, the Judge ultimately decides the sentence but if a deal for diversion was made by the prosecutor, the sentencing is taken from the Judge unless the judge rejects the deal.

It's the same with plea deals which comprise over 90% of criminal cases. The prosecutor usually recommends a sentence and the judge will rarely disagree with the sentence in a plea deal.

The Judge is confined to sentence a defendant in compliance with Ohio sentencing laws. That means if the Prosecutor enters into a plea deal for a lesser crime the judge can only sentence that defendant to the lesser crime if the judge accepts the deal. Thus, the prosecutor has enormous power to control the sentence based on diversion, or the nature of the plea.

2) Which Attorney General (Ohio or USA) handled the nursing home case? If the case was strictly about federal funds (Medicare) then the US Attorney's office would have handled it in federal court. However, the US Attorney would not prosecute the theft of funds from Grandma. That would be the responsibility of the County prosecutor.

Again, you continue to prove my point. The nursing home and employee got preferential treatment and the public was not fully protected from a thief based on political influence

3) You claim you don't hold anyone regardless of what they do; any more or less responsible based on their occupation. The problem with your view is that it is not the law of Ohio or the USA.

For example, Ohio's sentencing statute requires a judge to consider when sentencing a person whether or not they held a position of trust and the crime was related to that position of trust. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2929.12. If a person holds a position of trust, the court is supposed to consider that as a factor in increasing the sentence. In other words it doesn't affect the nature of the crime: murder is murder, but the sentence given.

There are also crimes such as theft in office, or rape even though a person consented, that can only be committed by a person holding a public office or is in a position of authority over someone.

For example, a Probation Officer should be criminally prosecuted for rape or GSI of an adult probationer even if the Officer had sex with the probationer's consent. The position of authority makes it impossible for the probationer to consent. Just like a teacher should be prosecuted for having sex his or her student who was over the age of consent.

DickTracey

An "extremely stupid mistake" ? I'm sorry but a mistake is a one time accidental occurrence. Brattons misuse of funds lasted YEARS!

You are incorrect when you state that he repaid in full. He repaid SOME, of the funds, only after he was caught by State Auditors. When the deadline for final payment came, he still had not repaid ALL of the funds.

When he was questioned about the money, he LIED! (Another "mistake"?) You may get the auditors findings online, just like I did, and read how the auditors say he was not truthful during initial interviews.

“Money that was supposed to help the men and women in law enforcement was instead diverted and spent on personal items, including tickets to an amusement park,” Dettelbach said. “That is hardly amusing to the rest of us. Those who are trusted to enforce the law, above all, cannot place themselves above it.”

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.”

You can read the rest of the FBI press release here,
http://www.fbi.gov/cleveland/pre...

Are you accusing the US Trustees Attorney and the FBI, of "acting like the villagers going after Frankenstein"?

meowmix

"Are you accusing the US Trustees Attorney and the FBI, of "acting like the villagers going after Frankenstein?"

No. I'm making that analogy towards you and the majority on this board who hate anything or anyone remotely affiliated with government. I suspect you suffer from PERS envy eh? Have a little retirement account do you?

DickTracey

You come on here to defend a thief, whom you have never even met, but call a "good guy", and when you run out of arguments, and find you didn't know any details of the crime, you personally attack me?

I don't care where you work, if you don't do the job you were hired to do you should be FIRED!

I don't care where you work, if you steal from your company you should be FIRED!

If Mulligan worked at McDonalds and saw a coworker stealing from the cash drawer or eating a free McDouble on break, and didn't tell the owner, I'd be just as mad!

Babo

Dick: LOL, you got to forgive MeowMix as he/she is projecting Bob's envy of your functional first name.

Why else defend stealing public money to buy embarrassing medications for cash without a doctor's prescription from an internet pharmacy when one has the very generous PERS insurance program.

Babo

There's no reason the Auditor of State couldn't refer the case to the AG for state charges as Mulligan has demonstrated he will not prosecute his friend and the case is well within the 6 years statute of limitations.

The Feds only prosecuted the thefts related to the federal funds not the state funds Bratton stole. Also if he can't produce documents to justify the other expenditures one may presume those were fraudulent too.

The AG is currently prosecuting the Athens County Sheriff on racketeering charges for very similar conduct. If a thorough examination of Bratton's office were undertaken, I'll wager there would be a lot more charges.

State charges would not only likely result in prison time for Bratton but a loss of his pension too. In terms of sentence, poor people without any influence may serve as much as 5 years for a $9,000 theft/embezzlement. In fact I know of a disabled woman who received 4 years from Judge Binette for stealing a total of $500.00 via 4 forged checks.

holysee

Thanks Babo. Good information.

holysee

Babo are you elsebeth?

Babo

Is holysee Catholic?

Peninsula Pundit

Does a bear move his bowels in the woods?

Babo

Is Peninsula Pundit also holysee? http://www.bing.com/images/searc...

Ralph J.

LIKE

DickTracey

Actually, Mulligan flat out REFUSED to prosecute Bratton! Because Mulligan saw "nothing criminal". This is how it really went down.

Toledo Blade March 15, 2012
The state auditor said the findings have been turned over to Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan. However, Mr. Mulligan said that after discussing the report with the state auditor's office, he doesn't believe Chief Bratton did anything criminal and the matter will not be presented to a grand jury.

Ralph J.

LIKE!

Babo

IMO, it looks like Mulligan lied to obstruct a state grand jury investigation. Think that's called obstruction of justice.

Ralph J.

Mulligan told the Register he was only "tangentially" involved in the decision to prosecute Bratton, but the auditor's office appears to have asked Mulligan directly to consider filing local charges, according to a series of emails sent among auditor's office employees. There you go.

Gunholdjr

Ok, so today it's Mulligan (a D) in the center of the multi county corruption ring, while yesterday it was Dewine (an R) doing a job originally assigned to Dean Henry (a D). Tomorrow, will it be Ansted, (a D), Dewey (an R) or Stierwalt (an R) while recieving advice from Julia Bates, (a D)? These people obviously have every reason to protect each other in the name of politics!
Perhaps the Register's sales, or lack thereof, in Ottawa County have come to the attention of Mr. Westerhold (an A--). Man, are you people gullible!

Lil DAB

And then there's Gunholdjr posting a comment on every article the SR publishes about Mulligan, Dewine, Henry, Bates, Dewey, Stierwalt...
Gullible? hahahaha
❄Welcome to corruption-interruptus (This time--->)starring Ottawa County.
❄Who goes directly to the SR headlines and blogs for the latest updates and news? *raises hand.

Babo

Your political affiliations are inaccurate. Also, you missed the common bond.

They are all lawyers and political parties are just means to election or power for all of them. They all share the desire to assure their bases of support that they can deliver case outcomes so that they remain electable, employable or even better face no competition whatsoever from another lawyer for public office or court appointment.

meowmix

If Bratton was already indicted/charged/sentenced in a Federal Court for this offense, I guess what I don't understand is how he can be tried again for same offense. Seems a bit like double jeopardy to me.
It also seems that if a person is a public employee, regardless of what their job title may be, people are automatically out for more blood from them. I don't understand this logic either.
A person can fraud welfare/unemployment/worker's compensation of thousands of dollars and no one seems to mind so much. But, hypothetically have an employee of a county office so much as steal a pack of gum and people behave like the villagers after Frankenstine. Ridiculous.

Babo

Bratton was prosecuted by the Federal government for the thefts related to federal Furtherance of Justice grant funds. He also stole money from the State of Ohio and its subdivisions. So there are multiple theft crimes and the thefts occurred repeatedly over a course of time which is enough for a state engaging in corrupt activity count.

Far from being automatically out for blood, many of us are frustrated that government employees with important positions seem able to avoid prosecution and punishment for serious crimes.

Bratton systematically defrauded the people of Ottawa County, the State of Ohio and the US by abusing his position to spend money on himself and in violation of multiple laws and rules which clearly stated how he was to account for the money. The investigation revealed he could not account for $29,000..that's a whole lot more than a pack of gum. It also explains why Bratton and Mulligan never took any complaints of theft in office by their political supporters and or friends seriously in the past and why Mulligan continues to do so.

Finally, public servants especially law enforcement officers are to be held to a higher standard not a lower standard than the public. An everyday citizen steals $9,000 from the federal government and is unable to account for another $20,000 from the state...they would be in prison.

JKB

{{{ yawn }}} Add something new or give it up.