Stop playing dumb

Matt Westerhold
Aug 23, 2014

 

The Put-in-Bay police department told the Register “its lawyer” recently instructed officers to change the way they file crime reports.

Its lawyer is law director George Wilber, and Wilber's keeping a tight lip on whatever instructions he gave the department.

“My office has no public records relating to your request,” he wrote in reply to an Aug. 15 inquiry from the Register.

Crime reports from the PIB police reviewed by the Register recently don't appear to be in compliance with what the Ohio Revised Code requires.

About a dozen different reports either did not list identities of suspects charged with crimes or do not list the circumstances that led to arrests. State law requires police departments properly document interaction with the public and list those details in arrests reports.

Wilber was asked specifically about the officer's comment that the law director instructed the department to withhold required information from crime reports.

Wilber did not respond to that one or to any of the questions from the Register about the changes. He would not say if he intended to review the new practice the department adopted to assure it complies with state law.

Mulligan sent a similar reply, stating his office did not generate any public record regarding the changes the PIB police department has made in the way it reports crime.

PIB police Chief Ric Lampella did not respond to the inquiry for additional information, or provide an explanation why critical and required information was omitted from those arrest reports.

State laws require proper documentation of police interaction with the public and are designed to protect citizen rights against false arrest and manufacture of evidence. The department already faces challenges from the community on those fronts.

For nearly a year, the owners, managers and employees of Put-in-Bay Resort and their attorneys have complained about the false arrests of three employees at the hotel. 

They complained to everyone from Lampella to Mayor Margaret Scarpelli, Wilber and Mulligan. They documented the arrests at the hotel's front desk in surveillance video and made the video available to all four public officials.

The response from all four has been to play dumb.

Lampela is so dumb to the problem, or intentionally oblivious to it he asked Village Council to promote the officer who made the false arrests. The police chief told Council Sgt. Steve Korossy “would fix the problems” in the department and asked for Korossy's annual pay to be bumped up to $50,000.

Council voted it down — twice — by a 4-2 margin, and then voted to bump down Korossy's pay to $8 per hour to a maximum of $160 per week. 

Two of the three criminal cases against the PIB Resort employees remain pending. Mulligan has refused to say what his intentions are with the remaining cases.

The employees have spent thousands of dollars on legal fees and no public official has responded to the allegations Korossy falsely arrested them.

At the time of the arrests Korossy told hotel staff Mulligan approved the action. His statement that Mulligan approved the arrests is documented in the surveillance video and in Korossy's arrest report.

Mulligan has given conflicting responses to questions about his involvement, however, according to hotel officials. He has since refused to clarify whether he did authorize the arrests.

Lampella, Wilber, Scarpelli and Mulligan combined haven't provided 10 useful words or a plausible sentence in response to serious complaints about the police department.

The civil rights violations and the false arrests were captured on video, documented with some clarity. The hotel surveillance of the arrests seem to clearly show Korrosy was out of bounds — way out — when he and three other PIB police officers cuffed the employees and hauled them off to jail.

It's time now for Lampella, Scarpelli, Wilber and Mulligan to finally figure out the right thing to do, and do it.

The time period for playing dumb and the no-account approach has expired.

Comments

DickTracey

I heard they were making a Dumb and Dumber 2!

The Register has Breaking News and gets to introduce the cast!

yea right

Where are the feds.

DickTracey

Matt,

I think you need to leave Mulligan alone here, be fair. He had a 7 week old baby murdered in his county. I am sure he is diligently planning and preparing for the upcoming murder trial. This is why he can not spare the time to talk to you or your reporters. I'm sure after the trial he will be more than willing to discuss this with you.

The voters of Ottawa County want justice! They want that three year old found guilty for murder!

Random Thoughts

The article states: "the arrests are documented in the surveillance video and in Korossy's report". Please post this report for all to see. It should state the basis for the arrests.

Jeff Strongman

Maybe Westerhold doesn't want to post the police report because it would derail his "false arrests" mantra.

Unassumer

oh jeffafa please.

xtensionofme

Matt, I seriously doubt that Lampela is REALLY "dumb to the problem, or intentionally oblivious" to what's going on any more than you do.

FedupIslander

Who says they are playing? After what we have witnessed over here on the island this bunch has convinced many people they really are stupid. When it was just one person affected it was skeptical, when it was two some called it a coincidence, now that all this has come out those with slightly more than half a brain call it for what it is; a corrupt, incompetent, band of thugs.

MediaMan's picture
MediaMan

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Unassumer

Wilbur is also Port Clinton's law director and lawyer for many. Good Old Boys Club Member and general pass the bucker in charge. If you think there's no corruption here or in PIB you're all wrong!

meg a

yeah, way past time for the 4 of them to figure out what to do. They could leave.

just observing

"Crime reports from the PIB police reviewed by the Register recently don't appear to be in compliance with what the Ohio Revised Code requires."

"State laws require proper documentation of police interaction with the public and are designed to protect citizen rights against false arrest and manufacture of evidence."

Please enlighten us, what exact section of the ORC requires these?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Just Observing. The requirements start with ORC 149.43, which defines a "public record" as any records kept by any public office, including, but not limited to, state, county, city, village, township, and school district units, and records pertaining to the delivery of educational services by an alternative school in this state kept by the nonprofit or for-profit entity operating the alternative school pursuant to section 3313.533 of the Revised Code. 

There are limited exemptions in the statute, including "confidential investigatory law enforcement records." The information being omitted by the PIB police department does not fall under this exemption and has not been claimed. The information being omitted is standard and basic, and is required in arrests reports. 

Hope that helps.

Random Thoughts

Mr. Westerhold, are you going to post Officer Korossy's report which you cite in your article? It should contain the basis for the arrests at issue.

just observing

Matt, ORC149.43 does not pertain to what is included or how a police report should be written, it only pertains to all police report being a public record, your paragraph indicated that state law requires how a police report is written and what must be included, somewhat misleading to the readers. Your reference to ORC 3313.533, alternative schools really confuses me in how that relates to this article?

Babo

He was giving you the statute as written.

just observing

The section he quoted is public records. There are no standards in Ohio law on how or what must be included in a police report as the article indicted exists.

Babo

You need to read the case law and consider professional police standards. Police reports are to contain the objective facts such as who what when and where an alleged crime happened. If the facts are not in the report, the police department is acting unprofessionally or the officer and command staff are not doing their job and need to be disciplined or terminated. Nobody would tolerate a doctor or nurse who didn't keep track of what happened to a patient. Police are no different. They claim to be professional and they need to act the part.

For example here's a case from the Ohio Supreme Court:

State, ex rel. National Broadcasting Co., v. Cleveland (1988), 38 Ohio St. 3d 79 -- Syllabus: "(1) Law enforcement investigatory records must be disclosed unless they are excepted from disclosure by R.C. 149.43. (State, ex rel. Beacon Journal, v. Univ. of Akron [1980], 64 Ohio St. 2d 392, 18 O.O. 3d 534, 415 N.E. 2d 310, approved and followed.) (2) A governmental body refusing to release records has the burden of proving that the records are excepted from disclosure by R.C. 149.43. (3) The specific investigatory work product exception, R.C. 149.43(A)(2)(c), protects an investigator's deliberative and subjective analysis, his interpretation of the facts, his theory of the case, and his investigative plans. THE EXCEPTION DOES NOT ENCOMPASS THE OBJECTIVE FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS HE HAS RECORDED. (emphasis added) (4) When a governmental body asserts that public records are excepted from disclosure and such assertion is challenged, the court must make an individualized scrutiny of the records in question. If the court finds that these records contain excepted information, this information must be redacted and any remaining information must be released."

If there are not any facts in police report to detail what occurred, they are not doing their job or there must not be any need for police as no crimes are occurring. You could also check department policies for what is expected to be contained in a police report and classes at police academies for the professional standards on report writing.

just observing

Matt stated Ohio law, and referenced ORC, we all agree a police report is a public record. Where does a mandate on how and what to include in a police report exist in the ORC as the readers were lead to believe? It was the editorial that stated Ohio law existed on this subject, where?

"You could also check department policies for what is expected to be contained in a police report and classes at police academies for the professional standards on report writing." So you agree with me, each department could have different standards, no statewide mandate again as the readers were lead to believe in the article.

Babo

Not really...its basic police 101 on how to fill out a report and what ought to be included therein. That's why the police departments have forms to fill out.

Skinny boy from...

Just Observing you are correct that there is nothing in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) or Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) that mandates what is to be included in a Police Incident Report. Each department decides on its own what is included in an incident report. Matt also stated "State laws require proper documentation of police interaction with the public and are designed to protect citizen rights against false arrest and manufacture of evidence." There is no such requirement in the ORC or OAC. Yes arrests by their nature have to be documented for the court proceedings and prosecution and there are other reports that are mandated in certain circumstances such a the OH-1 accident report, but there is no law that requires all interactions be documented. In fact there are probably hundreds of police interactions with the public that generate no documentation.

knowitall

How long before these yahoos on PIB are relieved of their duties.

Skinny boy from...

Mr. Westerhold unfortunately your editorial leaves out relevant information. You attack Mr. Wilbur for "keeping a tight lip on whatever instructions he gave the department" and that he "did not respond to that one or to any of the questions from the Register about the changes. He would not say if he intended to review the new practice the department adopted to assure it complies with state law." You should be well aware that what you ask him to tell you is protected under attorney client privilege. You attack him for following the code of ethics for lawyers as well as established case law. Chapter 3 Section G Sub Section 1a of "Ohio Sunshine Laws An open Government Resource manual 2014" states in part "“The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications.”322 Attorney-client privileged records and information must not be revealed without the client’s waiver.323 Such records are thus prohibited from release by both state and federal law for purposes of the catch-all exception to the Ohio Public Records Act." It also states in part "The attorney-client privilege arises whenever legal advice of any kind is sought from a professional legal advisor in his or her capacity as such, and the communications relating to that purpose, made in confidence by the client, are at the client’s instance permanently protected from disclosure by the client or the legal advisor.324 Records or information within otherwise public records that meet those criteria must be withheld or redacted in order to preserve attorney-client privilege." The full text is available on page 35. Mr Wilber can not respond to your request with out putting his law license at risk.

Unfortunately it feels as though your admitted disdain for law enforcement, you admitted on this site in an earlier unrelated article that you told a Sandusky PD Officer "I hate you all" (or something to that effect), is seeping into this story too. I agree that there appears to be troubling thing occurring with regards to the PiB PD. I watched the video and found the first arrest questionable and the second dumbfounding, and that's being charitable. This story needs to be reported and commented on by somebody who will investigate and bring forth all the facts, no matter what they reveal.

Please step back and maybe recuse yourself from further commenting on this story. Editorials such as this that omit information or state false information, become a distraction and do nothing to further the cause of finding out what is really happening with PiB PD. Also please post the arrest report in it entirety. You saying that Mulligan approved the arrests is documented in the officers report doesn't carry anywhere near the weight as would seeing it in the report, especially given the deficiencies note in you editorial. Let us see it with our own eyes. Unlike most of your prior crusades I think you are actually onto something here, don't blow it with BS distractions.

Babo

True, the attorney client privilege does protect certain information from disclosure. However, would you agree that if an attorney is furthering an alleged crime, obstruction of justice, or some fraudulent conduct through his counsel such as intentional violations of law; that information is no longer protected?

Furthermore, here's the real problem: PIB police will not release the arrest records in their entirety on advice of the law director even those records are clearly public records.

Finally, I do agree that the SR is on to something and that the newspaper ought to consider 1) hiring an investigator with experience in government misconduct cases to ferret out the information; and or 2) suing for the arrest and other police records.

Skinny boy from...

The privilege protects virtually all communications between an attorney and client. It is an extremely important privilege with a long history. Even given the example you provided, which really doesn't have bearing on the situation at hand, the information should still be protected. The attorney client privilege is that important. From what I have read and seen only a fill in the blank incident report is subject to disclosure at this point. Other investigatory reports and narratives are still not subject to disclosure until the conclusion of the case/s.