Baxter needs integrity probe

Matt Westerhold
Mar 23, 2010

Fired Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse's civil service hearing is a dog-and-pony show costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter is the dog, and retired judge Joseph Cirigliano is the pony.

There are so many aspects of this hearing that need to be explored, beginning with the statement Baxter gave to the Murman investigators. The good prosecutor acknowledged 11 "inaccuracies" after the Register began questioning him about discrepancies in his statement back in June. He likely never would have scurried back to make the corrections if the newspaper had not called him out, because nobody would have known how much Baxter got wrong in the story he told.

And the corrections aren't really corrections. Baxter just scratched out some information and scribbled some notes in the margins of the report, in an incredibly unprofessional manner. And the inaccuracies -- as Baxter calls them -- aren't really inaccuracies; they are straight out lies. If you ask me.

Let's try to take a look-see

Baxter detailed a meeting he had with Nuesse, then-U.S. attorney Greg White, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott and local law enforcement officials. He said he, White and Elliott educated Chief Nuesse on proper procedures during that meeting, but other meeting participants offered starkly different recollections. The Murman investigators did not bother to interview some of those witnesses to get an accurate description of the meeting, but we did.

Elliott told the Register Nuesse was not the target of that meeting. "We met so we could better coordinate our efforts," he said. "We wanted to find a way to do things better, and we accomplished that goal."

Oops. Baxter scratched that part of his statement, correcting his "inaccuracy."

Baxter told the Murman investigators that assistant county prosecutor Mary Ann Barylski was the gang expert in Erie County, even though he adamantly maintains there is no gang problem. But when the Register asked what qualified Barylski as the expert, whether she ever filed a court case with gang specification charges, or whether she had any other credentials that would qualify her as an expert, Baxter did not respond.

Oops. Baxter scratched that part of his statement, correcting his "inaccuracy."

Baxter said he never talked with Nuesse about whether youth violence in the county was gang-related. Oops. Erie County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Delamatre and Sandusky High School principal Dan Poggiali both testified Baxter attended a meeting where the topic was discussed. The results of the meeting were good.

"We changed some procedures, and the changes we made were effective," Delamatre told the Register in June.

Oops. Not sure whether Baxter included this one in the incomprehensible "scratch it out and scribble" corrections he made to the Murman report.

But now Baxter says he wasn't even at the meeting. He said Delamatre, who testified about the meeting at last week's hearing, "must be confused." The judge is mis-remembering, according to Baxter -- which means former Sandusky Schools assistant superintendent John Kaszonyi must be confused as well, because he testified about the meeting and said Baxter attended.

Baxter called reporter Jason Singer on Thursday and offered evidence he said was proof positive he wasn't at the meeting in question: A receipt from a Columbus hotel bearing the date of the meeting, Nov. 30. Baxter said he couldn't possibly have been at that meeting, and the receipt proved that.

Friday, he had the city's legal team introduce the receipt as evidence at the Civil Service hearing.

We checked. Baxter registered at the hotel at 4:45 p.m. that day. The meeting took place early that morning. That's one shoddy standard of evidence.

Dogging on Nuesse

Baxter said Nuesse told Delamatre she wanted to use the Sandusky Police Department's canine unit to conduct surprise searches for weapons at Sandusky High School. That's not what Delamatre testified to, however, and there was no SPD canine unit at that time.

Oops and oops.

Baxter testified he made the corrections to the Murman report because he wanted to "help Kim Nuesse" and make sure whatever decision city manager Matt Kline made about Nuesse's employment was based on the best, most accurate information.

Whew. That's rich. He wanted to help Nuesse, he said, so he made incomprehensible corrections. Less than 10 days later he advised Kline that Nuesse should be fired for her lack of integrity and her inability to get along with him and play nice.

Baxter's problem here, in my opinion, is that he lied to the Murman investigators, which resulted in his inaccurate statement. He never expected anyone to challenge him, and he never expected the newspaper would so aggressively pursue the truth.

When he testified at the hearing last month, he said there were 11 inaccuracies in the statement but under cross-examination by Nuesse's attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, he acknowledged additional "discrepancies."

I wish I could list each and every one of them here for you, but the corrections are incomprehensible ... just incredibly unprofessional scratch-outs and notes in the margins.

And I wish I could provide more information from his testimony, but Baxter refused to allow it to be videotaped, and Cirigliano -- without explanation -- ordered that the Register's microphone be moved away from Baxter before he began his testimony. That rendered the audiotape of his testimony difficult to hear and difficult to understand.

Man, this is one slippery dude

In most parts of the state, giving false statements to an investigator is illegal under the Ohio Revised Code. That state law does not appear to apply in Erie County, however, because not a single public official has expressed outrage concerning Baxter's "inaccurate" statements.

I have concerns.

It's troubling when the de-facto top law enforcement officer in the county is not held accountable for misstatements and falsifications. He should be. Baxter should be forced to thoroughly explain how he could get so much so wrong. An independent prosecutor should be named "to help Kevin" explain and to determine whether Baxter should be charged.

This independent prosecutor also should review whether Baxter committed a crime when he changed the Murman report. Witnesses -- and that is Kevin's only official role here -- do not have the option to change their statements after the fact. They can confer with the investigators and ask for corrections, or write an addendum and ask that it be added to the file, but they do not have access to simply change an investigative report.

Kevin's effort to correct the record could be the only time a witness was ever given that kind of carte blanche freedom to backtrack.

What's good for the gander should be good for the goose. It's an integrity probe, after all. Kim Nuesse has met the standard. Kevin Baxter has not.

And there, you have it.

Comments

Anonymous

Well, I know several people who comment on here regularly and not a single one of them is associated with The Register. We happen to think The Register already is a fine paper. So much more? Like what?

Anonymous

anyone wanna take a guess as to who I am????

Baxter

SanduskyGirl28

If what Baxter did with the Murman Report----crossing out and adding things on----was legal why hasn't he made any attempt to refute the claim that it was not? Looks to me like he's hiding from the truth.

Anonymous

Baxter isn't the only in this county that needs an integrity probe, sounds like a lot of them do! Even some of the staff at the Courthouse sounds shady!

Anonymous

a fine paper?? That proves you work for them and you are s**king up to Matty and Dougie!!!!!!!! Get serious and put away the drugs.

Anonymous

Just saw on the news that a plane went down in the Hudson River in New York.......... bet that was Baxter's fault too.

Anonymous

Thank God for the Sandusky Register for exposing these dishonest, lying, overpaid, crooked office holders, such as Baxter. He'd be getting away with this forever, if weren't for the S.R. Good work!

Anonymous

HA! That is hilarious.

Anonymous

What happened to all the other comments that were on here?

Anonymous

Why did Baxter call Jason Singer to tell him he had proof that he wasn't at the meeting? What does Jason have to do with this? I swear this city has gone bananas. Or maybe it's always been bananas; we are just now finding it out.

Anonymous

I have news for you, the integrity of the SR has plummeted since this moron Westerhold has been writing these editorials. So even if there is something to investigate, thanks to this guy nothing will be done, because no one takes him serious anymore. The SR is nothing more than a sleazy tabloid anymore, mostly thanks to Matt Westerhold. He wants everyone investigated for various things, but what about him. The article he wrote about seeing Phil Frost downtown had more holes in it than you can imagine. He makes things up to try and make his girlfriend Kim look better. It is as if he just makes these random accusations, so when a legitiment issue comes up, no one knows if it is true. He is scum and he knows it and he has destroyed the integrity this newspaper use to be known for...like I said he MUST have something on someone at the SR, its the only reason there is as to why they continue to let him to do this to the newspaper...

Anonymous

I never saw so many whiners in my life. (or is it just one) I mean if I didn't like a newspaper and didn't agree with what they were printing I would just simply cancel my subscription and be done with it. What is so hard about that?

Westerdump

Just wanted to remind little Mattie that he is a homosexual. I heard he and the owner of the SR were in his Huron Beach House banging little boys. Little Mattie has now moved the gayness to his house in Gaywood Village.

PS Up yours Matt Westerhold!

Anonymous

What does my sexuality have to do with anything. I also would love to know your sourses because your are wrong.

I respect Frost, Batxer, Nuesse. Well I love Nuesse. I digress from my point. I think that all cops, laywers, Baxters are just dirty. I could never do what they all do everyday. They too can not do what it is that I do everyday....tell the truth.

-Matt Westerhold "Mr editor"

Anonymous

I would bet my house that if the stories were going against your buddy Nuesse, you WOULD NOT be saying that...'eh?

outsider

How can all you pro-Kevin and/or gov't cronies defend any of them. They stole
millions from the taxpayers through theft, pay-offs and political moves like the Nuesse hearings. Joe Cirigliano is a proven crook. He was thrown out of Lorain County by his own crooked profession. Kevin has done everything under the sun and not in jail. What's wrong with you people??
What do you owe the good ole boys?

Anonymous

REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE COMPLAINS AGAINST THESE CROOKS. SCUM COVERING FOR SCUM.

Anonymous

@ outsider

How do you know all of that to be true? Where is all of your PROOF. Anybody can run off at the mouth. Just look at all of the SR blogs....PROOF...that anybody can run off at the mouth.

Anonymous

I've been prosecutor for 20 yrs. now,so I pretty much have a free hand as far as local politics go.I pulled the wool over your eyes years ago.Nobody has the guts to stand up to me.I will rule forever.

Anonymous

It's not that nobody has got the guts to stand up to you it's because all the crooks got it made with you. The crooks in the judicial system. And forever is an awwwwwwwwful long time.

Anonymous

It's a well known fact...absolute power corrupts...absolutely.

Anonymous

Its a well known fact....sooner or later they meet up with the wrong person. That came from an attorney.

Anonymous

You're wrong. Baxter's crooked dealings are quickly being exposed. It won't be long now. Slammer time for ole Kevie!

Anonymous

Not only does the same person blog over and over again, now he answers himself. Whoooooooooooooooa.

Anonymous

You're a WACKO! No one is answering themself! And, I'm not a he! Pull yourself together!

Taxpayer

Now wait a minute. I have a very high regard for Kevin Baxter. But, with ALL the discrepancies Westerhold lists, are all of you saying there is NO chance any of them are true? Are you saying Westerhold just made them all up? There has to be some truth to these allegations. It does appear the SR did their own investigation and their own interviews with witnesses and found a LOT of things wrong. I just cannot accept that Matt is lying about everything. I do doubt his agenda, but he has been truthful. He did write his opinion of Phil Frost the the SPD. He posted it loud and clear and made his agenda very clear. You cannot get any more honest that that. It troubles me that Kevin has not been truthful.

Anonymous

WOW! Sounds like a bunch of imbreeds at their best. Westerhold put the oil in the pan and Baxter is frying in it. This is good reporting to educate readers what the facts are. Baxter needs to get checked , sounds like he is having those CRS spells ( Cant remember Shcit). Or perhaps hes one of the see , hear and speak no evil monkeys? Sandusky Overhaul ,to Sandusky Overalls. bunch of Imbreeds!

Anonymous

KB IS A MAN OF HIGH INTEGRITY AND WILL TELL YOU SO EVEN IF HIS 1 AND ONLY NUT IS IN THE RINGER.

Anonymous

I am a whacko? Who is the one getting b-e-n-t? Maybe you should think about pulling yourself together? I never even once used a "!" either. My, my.

Anonymous

DO YOUR PULLING IN THE BAFTH MOOM.

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