Fearing retaliation on Put-in-Bay

Matt Westerhold
Jul 26, 2014

The Register should have been paying closer attention years ago.

According to officials at the Put-in-Bay Resort, the hotel and its staff have long been harassed by island police, ever since the owner and Chief Ric Lampela had a disagreement about the village's noise ordinance years ago.

There have been times when police officers arrived at the hotel and simply stood intimidatingly in the lobby or in other areas of the hotel, as if they were sentries with no business to attend to and nothing to do.

The harassment became so pronounced, the owners purchased and installed sophisticated surveillance equipment to protect the hotel and its employees from police.

To protect themselves.

From police.

The very fact a business owner made the allegation of police harassment represents a breakdown in leadership, and questions, naturally get directed to Lampela and island Mayor Margaret Scarpelli.

Scarpelli has spent the last 10 months playing dumb to the problems that have been brought to her attention. 

But after weeks of silence, Lampela faced his critics Thursday evening in a heated town forum, where the chief minimized the concerns from residents and frequently blamed the Sandusky Register for its reporting.

One of Lampela's biggest critics at Thursday's forum was one of his own, however, a former police chief and a longtime police academy instructor. Scott Bellinger hammered Lampela from the start of the forum.

“Why are there so many people who fear the police department?” he asked. “They fear they will be retaliated against if they speak out.”

Lampela's responses during the two-hour forum did nothing to quell concerns with his leadership or tamp down questions whether he understands the role and responsibilities of being police chief.

His demeanor came off as a dangerous combination of Deputy Barney Fife from the “Andy Griffith” TV show, and Boss Hog from the “Dukes of Hazard.”

The chief, who plays it cute and coy with Register reporter Alex Green, said the Register misreported previously that he's refused to comment on recent controversies involving the police department.

He later acknowledged the practice when questioned by Green after the forum.

“Why do you think I haven't been commenting to the Sandusky Register?” he asked, adding sarcastically, “You're a pretty good investigator.”

The chief should save the back-handed compliments — or whatever that comment represents — and answer his critics. It's arrogant and demeaning to refuse to answer them.

Just two days before his forum, Lampela asked Village Council to appoint veteran PIB police officer Steven Korossy to the top of the police department's chain of command. 

“I (recommend) you hire him as a lieutenant for $50,000 a year,” Lampela told Council members. “To fix things that appear to be wrong with the police department.”

It would seem reasonable residents would expect it was Lampela's job to address those problems, and appointing Korossy to a command position won't do that.

Korossy appears qualified for a leadership role, but he's also a central character in one big cluster of problems it appears he created last year when he initiated an investigation into the termination of an employee at the Put-in-Bay Resort.

Obstruction charges filed against one employee already have been dismissed but the same charge against a second one remains pending in Ottawa Municipal Court.

And it's still not clear what prompted the investigation. It's also not clear whether it was a lawful probe.

“I'm not going to comment on cases that haven't been adjudicated,” Lampela said during the forum, prompting an exasperated sigh from some in attendance.

What would prompt a police investigation immediately after a private business fires an employee? Why would police demand the fired employee be immediately given her final paycheck?

Hotel officials have speculated it was personal: The fired employee was the girlfriend of a police officer. 

Lampela won't say. 

A day before those arrests, Korossy and other PIB police officers launched an investigation into a parking citation issued for a golf cart. They arrested the hotel's general manager and charged her with obstruction when she couldn't immediately give them a printout of the rental contract for the golf cart.

That case also remains pending in Ottawa Municipal Court, as police and County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan scramble for some elusive plausible explanation.

It's the surveillance equipment — not police — that is protecting and serving the hotel's employees against false arrest.

The video from the hotel's security cameras tells the story of those arrests that Lampela doesn't want told. Clearly, the police overstepped their authority in making the arrests at the hotel, but the bigger problem is Lampela and his officers don't appear to understand the boundaries.

Rapes and druggings go misreported and un-investigated on the island while police investigate the firing of a hotel employee and a parking citation, arresting three uninvolved people without any suggestion that any criminal violations occurred.

It will get worse and might never get better if Village Council — and the mayor — continue looking away. 

*

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Comments

knowitall

Stay away from PIB. There are other locales that are more friendly and less dangerous.

yea right

Agree

MrSandusky

No PiB for me this year.

MediaMan's picture
MediaMan

http://sanduskyoh.glyphreports.com/

go to this link and type in this report number 14-013228

Gottathink

Agree with the both of you.
The picture of Chief Lampela makes him look delusional?

DickTracey

Before coming to Put in Bay in 1991, Lampela had been rejected and turned down by SEVERAL departments near his home in Wiloughby. Put in Bay offered him part time, seasonal employment, he jumped at the chance. (Which is actually pathetic for someone with a masters.)

At the time Lampela had never stepped foot on the island until the day of the interview. At the end of his first summer he was offered full time employment.

Two years later he is chief, because the chief at that time retired. WOW. Is it any wonder why there are problems?

This guy could not get hired anywhere else, but Put in Bay hands him a position as chief! Not because of his many years of service and experience, or because he was qualified, but because he happened to be in the right place at the right time.

He claims his years working in a psych ward helped him prepare for this job. Hmmm, so which one of you locals are crazy?

This story makes him look like a creeper, that thinks he is a rock star. When asked about the wildside of the island, he said, "at first your stunned, then you just get into it." Awkward.

I don't feel good about a chief giving an interview for this type of story, involving hedonism, girls showing their chest for beads, guys trying to get laid, etc. I feel like he was bragging about getting to watch all the action while getting paid at the same time. Gross.

http://www.clevescene.com/clevel...

Truth2u

What is stronger, a thug in uniform or a keyboard from a free press? Thank God for a free press! ( Of course its only good for society when its not biased or has grudges)/

For Lampela to recommend another hiring to FIX things that are wrong with the police is ridiculous! As Matt said, isn't this Lampela's job?

Two questions citizens of PNB should consider:
1). WHY IS IT A MESS UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP LAMPELA?

Register should send a free copy to all the residents of PNB of your paper coverage and this editorial, its possible many are not aware of whats going on, and possibly send one to their other home off the island with a cover letter.

Ralph J.

"His demeanor came off as a dangerous combination of Deputy Barney Fife from the “Andy Griffith” TV show, and Boss Hog from the “Dukes of Hazard.”"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L...

Kilroy was here

My question is; why is it the village council can sit by and allow the mayor and police chief to carry this farce of leadership on. People of Put in Bay and village council if there isn't a change before next year , these stories are going to change the minds of people wanting to come here; remember the year after the water scare. Remember how the season ended early while the health department tried to figure the water out. Right now you have an " out of control" police department with numerous issues, drugging of women, and the appearance of being inept politically to address these. We can characterize the mayor and police chief any number of ways, that isn't going to change the fact they are making the problems worse by failing to openly address them.

gennycreamale

The other guy they want to make Lt. is not qualified either in my opinion. All the work he had on his linked in page is part time and job hopping hoping to land somewhere.
Sorry the one key bank job... Now disbanded department. CSU was standing around special events on campus, tenable--it's watching walgreens. How does this make someone qualified for a position of reform in any department??? Do you see a trend here... Lack of experience from the top down.

Donegan

Citizens fearing retaliation from the local police. That in itself is reason to fire everyone involved and start over.

Digger-Nick

When o when will the mayor over there
Finally take responsibility and rid the island
Of these people. Thousands of people are reading these stories and she still thinks there is not a problem

ohioengineer

The great thing about our free enterprise system is that people will quickly begin to vote with their feet (or their boats in this case) and stay away from Put-In-Bay and instead go to other islands. (This is called competition.) This in turn will hit the village residents and business people where it hurts - in their wallets - and changes will be made. The system works. It may not be pretty, but it works.

holysee

one thousand light years from home

FedupIslander

There will be no change in things until the Mayor accepts responsibility for all these issues and replaces Lampela with a real leader. Nice to see his "edict" however all great leaders and reformers know "edicts" do not change cultures, great leaders do. The culture that lives in the PIB PD today is mistrust, dishonestly, fear and intimidation.

Presto

Ewww you guys the chief is just so CREEPY....

Police lurking around aimlessly in a MOTEL for heavens sake...

Uninvited and obviously not needed by anyone there...

That's just plain creepy.

It's also scary.

And just listen to this chief's comments! A smart mouth to match his crazy eyed photo -

Every single person who A) Gets mistreated by "police" on this island or B) Does NOT receive timely and appropriate assistance from police when requested need to record as much of the rotten treatment (or nonresponses) on their mobile devices and upload to youtube / facebook

Who do businesses and people call for help when the "help" they receive (or dont receive) from police is inappropriate?????

WhatTheHeck

Tim Keleman come to mind here?

holysee

Kim Teleman?

FootballFan43035

Where's the ACLU on this one? If these people have been wrongfully arrested and/or harassed by the police department where's the ACLU's lawyers filing lawsuits?

I mean if there's a cross in the same zip code as city hall, they're carpet-bombing that city with lawyers filing lawsuits arguing that violates the separation of church and state. Quick... someone start putting crosses on every piece of property owned by Put-In-Bay. That will get the lawyers out there even though they probably won't like getting tricked into showing up!

holysee

ysatnaf a si doG