Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

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jci63
 
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Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby jci63 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:23 pm

Michigan resident linked to controversy- "Wright's home address was also used in 2001 by John D. Coffin of Michigan, who is not a wildlife officer, to purchase a resident Ohio hunting license. Vaughn did purchase a non-resident Ohio hunting license in 2007, using his South Carolina address." http://www.cleveland.com/outdoors/in...r_top_col.html

Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges


By MISTY MAYNARD, Staff Writer | Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 8:15 pm

GEORGETOWN, Ohio -- Six employees of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were indicted Friday by a Brown County grand jury on charges ranging from tampering with records and falsification to obstructing justice.

Prompting the charges is an incident that allegedly occurred between Nov. 5 and Dec. 30, 2006. It was between these dates that Allan Wright, wildlife officer for Brown County, allegedly falsified records kept by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources by allowing a South Carolina officer to use Wright's home address in Brown County when purchasing a hunting license, said Mike Shelton, chief of legislative services for ODNR.

By using Wright's address, the South Carolina officer, identified as Eric Vaughn, purchased an in-state hunting license rather than an out-of-state license. A in-state license costs $19, while an out-of-state license is $125, Shelton said.

Shelton said an internal investigation was completed by ODNR administrators following the 2006 incident and a verbal reprimand was issued to Wright. However, by failing to refer the case for prosecution, five administrators "ignored the criminal violation of falsification," according to a report of investigation issued by the State of Ohio's Office of the Inspector General. According to the report, the basis for the investigation was a confidential informant who filed a complaint with the OIG on Sept. 30, 2009, two years after the verbal reprimand was issued.

Wright has been charged with two counts of tampering with records and one count of falsification.

Division of Wildlife Chief David Graham, Law Enforcement Administrator James Lehman, Human Resources Administrator Michele Ward, District 5 Manager Todd Haines and Assistant Chief of ODNR Division of Wildlife Randy Miller were each indicted on one count of obstructing justice and one count of complicity to obstruct justice each.

According to the report of investigation, administrators "said that they never recognized or considered Wright's actions could be criminal and decided to handle the matter as a policy investigation."

"During Wildlife's investigation, Officer Wright claimed that this is a common practice and supervisors approved or had knowledge of Wildlife officers providing resident hunting licenses to nonresidents," according to the report. "No one from Wildlife ever verified Wright's claims that the practice was widespread. In fact, we found that this claim is not true."

Administrators classified Wright's violation as a "failure of good behavior for disobeying an unspecified division directive and issued him a verbal reprimand," according to the report.

"We found there was not agency directive prohibiting the issuance of a resident license to a nonresident until October 2008, well after this violation occurred," according to the report. "The more appropriate classification of dishonesty by willfully falsifying an official document was not considered. Wildlife administrators also violated the governor's and ODNR policy by failing to report suspected illegal activity to the ODNR director or his designee."

As of Monday, Shelton said all of the six indicted remained at work and have not been placed on any kind of leave.

Shelton said he is not aware of any charges filed against the South Carolina officer. According to the report, it was Wright's idea to put his home address on Vaughn's license application to allow him to receive a resident hunting license.

The OIG made two recommendations in the report, which ODNR has six days to respond to with a plan.

The first recommendation is that ODNR update its suspected illegal activity policy to mirror the Governor's Procedures for Notification of Employee Wrongdoing and/or Suspected Illegal Activity.

The second recommendation is that ODNR should internally review actions of all employees involved to determine whether their conduct warrants further administrator action or training.

Shelton said no action has yet been taken on the recommendations.

Tampering with records is a third-degree felony, while falsification is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Obstructing justice and complicity to obstruct justice are both fifth-degree felonies.

http://www.maysville-online.com/news...cc4c002e0.html

Other stories on the issue:

http://www.cleveland.com/outdoors/in...r_top_col.html

http://news-herald.com/articles/2010.../nh2318765.txt

[size="4"][color="red"]Here in Michigan they don't get prosecuted, they get transferred! [/color][/size]

jci63
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby jci63 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:41 pm

UPDATE: Indicted Wildlife employees placed on paid leave

Staff report

Six Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife employees who were indicted last week have been placed on paid leave pending resolution of the accusations levied against them in Brown County, according to an ODNR spokesperson.


"We are going to place all six employees on administrative leave, effective this evening through the end of the court proceedings," Mike Shelton, Chief of ODNR's Office of External Affairs, said Wednesday afternoon.


The agency is currently looking at temporary employee reassignments to ensure that the services and responsibilities normally handled by the indicted individuals are still taken care of, Shelton said.


A Grand Jury indicted Brown County Wildlife Officer Allan Wright last week for two counts of tampering with records and one count of falsification. Wright is accused of allowing South Carolina resident Eric Vaughn to use Wright's home address on an application for a hunting permit in November of 2006, effectively reducing the cost of the permit by $106. Wright is additionally accused of personally checking in three deer killed by Vaughn and intentionally providing his own home address, rather than Vaughn's, on the tags.


In addition to Wright, five other ODNR Division of Wildlife employees - all in supervisory positions - have each been charged with two fifth-degree felony counts because they allegedly failed to initiate a criminal investigation once allegations against Wright became known to the Division. Division of Wildlife Chief David Graham, Assistant Chief Randy Miller, Law Enforcement Administrator James Lehman, District 5 Manager Todd Haines and Human Resources Administrator Michele Ward-Tackett have each been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and complicity to obstructing justice.


All six defendants were summoned to appear for arraignment Monday in Brown County Court of Common Pleas, and each defendant was released on a $10,000 own-recognizance bond after the hearing.


The defendants are expected to appear in Common Pleas Court on April 21.
http://newsdemocrat.com/main.asp?Sectio ... eID=130531

jci63
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby jci63 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:41 pm

South Carolina Officer Vaughn killed 2 does and a button buck in Ohio. So, he signed his license and three deer permits claiming to be a resident of OHIO. Doesn't matter if Wright input the information, Vaugh signed it under penalty of law. And Vaughn acknowledged that he noticed that his license showed Wright's address before he signed it.



Wright came to SC for two years and was found to have violated numerous trapping laws. However, SC DNR only gave him a warning. Vaughn was also found to have violated a trapping law in SC at the same time but he was not ticketed, warned, or disciplined.



While Wright was in SC here, Vaughn admits to being with Wright while he was trapping, and Vaughn was present when Wright left with illegal pelts. Yet he claims to have seen no infractions. Wright made thousands of dollars while here and got to keep all of it. Didn't even pay a fine.

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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby Ohio farms » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:44 am

The whole bunch should be fined and fired. They all had their dirty hands in poaching ohio deer. How many people have the DOW busted and admonished for the same criminal activity while their "good ole boy" club was doing it themselves. Unbelievable.
Keep life simple...if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

jci63
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby jci63 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:23 am

[color="red"]SC DNR Officer Eric Vaughn willfully falsified an official document[/color] by signing his license. Officer Vaughn is not now, nor has he ever been, a resident of Ohio.

A records check of hunting licenses issued to Eric Vaughn in Ohio revealed that in 2006, Vaughn was issued an Ohio resident hunting license, which listed his home address as the home address of Allan Wright. The fee for a resident hunting license is $19, while the nonresident license is $125.00

The Ohio Division of Wildlife receives no taxpayer or General Revenue Funds ("GRF"), but is funded through revenue from license and permit fees. So because of Vaughn's actions your fund was fraudulently compromised.

A "resident" is a person who has resided in the state of Ohio "not less than six months next preceding the date of making application for a license."2 All others are considered "nonresidents" and must purchase nonresident licenses.

[color="red"]The ODNR Wildlife hunting license application form clearly states that "providing fraudulent information is a violation of 2921.13 of the Ohio Revised Code." A violation of this section is classified as a misdemeanor of the first degree.[/color]

"Ohio Revised Code section 2921.13A (5) Falsification; states "no person shall knowingly make a false statement, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when any of the following apply:… the statement is made with purpose to secure the issuance by a governmental agency of a license, permit, authorization, certificate, registration, release, or provider agreement."

Wright admitted he was friends with SCDNR Officer Eric Vaughn, and that he had assisted Vaughn with obtaining an Ohio resident hunting license in
2006 during a hunting trip in Ohio.

On July 30, 2008, USFWS reported to the Ohio Wildlife Law Enforcement Executive Administrator that they found no evidence of misconduct by the USFWS officer. The USFWS report included Wright's admission of assisting Vaughn in obtaining the Ohio resident license.

Wright admitted that he assisted [color="red"]Vaughn in obtaining a fraudulent resident hunting license[/color] by advising Vaughn to use his (Wright's) home address as his own.

Wright also admitted checking in the three deer killed by Vaughn. Wright knowingly recorded a false address for Vaughn on the harvest report when he listed his address as Vaughn's.

An ODNR Customer Purchase History query of Wright's home address revealed Vaughn used Wright's address in 2006, but listed his own South Carolina address on a 2007 hunting license.

As part of this OIG investigation, a Customer Purchase History query of ODNR records was done to search for any other Wildlife officer's home address being used by others. All resident hunting licenses sold from January 1, 2006 to December 12, 2006 (308,592 records) were
extracted.

Eric Vaughn had the only record that did not have the same family name of the residence, and that had a previous or subsequent out-of-state address.

We found that Ohio Wildlife Officer Allan Wright admitted his part in obtaining a resident hunting license for his friend, South Carolina Wildlife Officer Eric Vaughn. It was Officer Wright's idea to put his home address on Vaughn's hunting license application to facilitate Vaughn receiving a resident hunting license. This act resulted in producing a fraudulent hunting
license and deprived Wildlife of additional revenue.

Providing fraudulent information on a hunting license application is a violation of the Ohio Revised Code, which is clearly stated on the
hunting license application.

http://watchdog.ohio.gov/investigations/2009340.pdf

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Randy3003
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby Randy3003 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:41 am

The very same people we entrust to enforce the laws seem to think they're above the law!!!!!!!!!! I say cook them at the stake...  as for me I'll have mine well done thank you.

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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby Ohio farms » Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:58 pm

Five of them threw their careers away for $20 apiece, along with tons of arrogence.
Keep life simple...if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

jci63
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby jci63 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:57 am

Indicted wildlife officials have pre-trial hearing set

The six Ohio Division of Wildlife officials each have up-coming pre-trial hearings set for the Brown County Common Pleas Court before judge Scott Gosweiler.

Each official is charged with felony indictments and also with a misdemeanor charge in the case of one defendant, their arraignments having been April 5.

Allan Wright - the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - will appear for his pre-trial hearing at 2 p.m., April 21.

Assistant wildlife division chief Randy Miller, Wildlife Division law enforcement administrator James Lehman, Wildlife District 5 (southwest Ohio) director Todd Haines, and the agency's human resources manager Michele Ward-Tackett all are scheduled to appear at 11 a.m., April 21.

David Graham - the Wildlife Division's chief - has his pre-trial hearing set for 8:30 a.m., April 27.

A pre-trial hearing is designed for the exchange of information between the county prosecutor and the defendants' attorneys. Often a second pre-trial hearing is held as well, a Brown County Common Pleas Court official said Thursday.

Pending the outcome of their legal matters each defendant was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources director Sean Logan.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischkorn@News-Herald.com

http://outdoorswithfrischkorn.blogspot.com/

jci63
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby jci63 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:25 am

GEORGETOWN – Six Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife employees are facing felony charges related to the alleged falsification of an address on a hunting permit.

Brown County Wildlife Officer Allan Wright is accused of allowing South Carolina resident Eric Vaughn to use Wright's home address on an application for a hunting permit in November of 2006. According to the State of Ohio Office of the Inspector General, records indicate that Vaughn paid $19 for a residential hunting permit, rather than the $125 fee that out-of-state hunters are typically required to pay.

Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General found that Wright personally checked in three deer killed by Vaughn and allegedly recorded his own home address on the tags.

Wright has served as an officer with the Division off Wildlife since May 17, 1993, according to an ODNR spokesperson.

During investigations by multiple agencies into the incident, Wright allegedly admitted to investigators that he suggested substituting his own address to Vaughn and assisted with obtaining the license, although he claimed that it has been common practice in Ohio to allow Wildlife Officers from other states to hunt with residential licenses, according to a report released by the OIG.

Vaughn was a Wildlife Officer in South Carolina and a resident of that state at the time the license was issued.

Last week Wright was indicted for two counts of tampering with records and one count of falsification. The record tampering charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and the falsification count is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of six months in the Brown County Detention Center, according to Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little.

In addition to Wright, five other ODNR Division of Wildlife employees - all in supervisory positions - have each been charged with two fifth-degree felony counts because they allegedly failed to initiate a criminal investigation once allegations against Wright became known to the Division. Division of Wildlife Chief David Graham, Assistant Chief Randy Miller, Law Enforcement Administrator James Lehman, District 5 Manager Todd Haines and Human Resources Administrator Michele Ward-Tackett have each been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and complicity to obstructing justice. Each defendant could face a maximum of 12 months in prison in addition to fines on each count.

All six defendants were summoned to appear for arraignment Monday in Brown County Court of Common Pleas, and each defendant was released on a $10,000 own-recognizance bond after the hearing.

All six individuals were still on the job as of Monday, according to a spokesperson for the Division of Wildlife. Mike Shelton, Chief of the ODNR Office of External Affairs, said the Department is working in cooperation with the Office of the Inspector General to determine if further training or personnel changes will be necessary, but no decisions have been finalized concerning the employees.

It is Shelton's understanding that a felony conviction would lead to termination of employment for the defendants.

The OIG launched an investigation into the allegations in September of 2009 after receiving a complaint from a confidential informant. During the course of the inquiry, investigators with the Inspector General's office discovered that the Division of Wildlife had already conducted an internal investigation of the complaint in 2008.

After the 2008 investigation, the Division of Wildlife administrators concluded that Wright's actions constituted a "failure of good behavior" violation of the Division's administrative policy. Wright was issued a verbal reprimand but no criminal charges were filed.

"Wildlife administrators said that they never recognized or considered Wright's actions could be criminal, and decided to handle the matter as a policy violation," the OIG's report states.

The Inspector General's report indicates Wright's assertions that allowing out-of-state Wildlife Officers to purchase in-state licenses was considered, but never verified by the administrators who conducted the Department of Wildlife investigation. The lack of verification and the administrators' failure to pursue criminal charges, including forwarding the complaint to appropriate supervisors as required by policies established by ODNR and Governor Ted Strickland, led to the charges against the administrators.

"We determined in this case that Wildlife Administrators ignored the criminal violation of falsification and decided to handle the violation with an administrative investigation," said OIG investigators in the report. "The investigation was incomplete because the claim that it was common practice to aid nonresidents in obtaining resident hunting licenses, and it was done with supervisor approval or knowledge, was not verified."

"We find Wildlife Officer Wright committed an act of wrongdoing. We also find that Wildlife administrators committed wrongful acts or omissions by failing to properly investigate Officer Wright. Wildlife decided to handle the matter as a policy violation, rather than a potential criminal violation."

The OIG did find, however, that Graham issued a memo on March 14, 2008, prohibiting Wildlife personnel from accepting out-of-state hunting licenses. Graham issued another memo on Oct. 1, 2008 prohibiting the issuance of in-state licenses to out-of-state residents.

Although Wright allegedly told investigators that "it has been common practice that in the southwest part of Ohio, officers from Kentucky and Indiana would hunt in Ohio using resident Ohio Licenses," OIG was unable to find evidence that such a policy existed.

OIG's investigators searched all records of hunting licenses listing a Wildlife Officer's home address during 2006 and concluded that "Eric Vaughn had the only record that did not have the same family name of the residence, and that had a previous or subsequent out-of-state address."

The report continues: "The results of this query demonstrate that other Wildlife officers are not making a common practice of allowing nonresidents to use officers' addresses to obtain a resident hunting license."

Additionally, Wright allegedly made several statements to investigators indicating that the courtesy was reserved only for wildlife officers. However, an ODNR Purchase History query of Wright's home address revealed that Michigan resident John D. Coffin had obtained an Ohio hunting license using Wright's address in 2001. The OIG investigators found that Coffin is an acquaintance of Wright, but is not a Wildlife Officer.

Furthermore, even if such a policy existed, the OIG investigators found that such a policy would not excuse the deliberate falsification of information on a hunting license application.

Hunting licenses are required of anyone who hunts or traps legal game in Ohio. Although hunting license applicants are not required to show proof of identification or residency, and although the information provided by applicants is not routinely verified, "the application form clearly states that ‘providing fraudulent information is a violation of 2921.13 of the Ohio Revised Code,'" according to the OIG's report.

"Regardless, whether a policy existed at the time or not, Wright's actions constituted criminal activity, and Wildlife should have investigated it as a criminal matter," the OIG's report states.

License and permit fees are the main source of funding for the Division of Wildlife, which does not directly receive taxpayer or General Revenue funds.
During interviews with Graham, Miller, Lehman, Haines and Ward-Tackett, each individual allegedly admitted to investigators that Wildlife would pursue criminal charges against any civilian who obtained or attempted to obtain a hunting license using fraudulent information.

According to Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little, "regular people are prosecuted routinely for the exact same offense."

"Just because you are a law enforcement officer does not make you special," she said.

Little noted that her office does not currently intend to pursue charges related to the 2001 issuance of a resident license to Michigan resident John D. Coffin, in part because statute of limitations restrictions may apply.

As part of the investigation, the OIG also looked into allegations that the Division of Wildlife administrators instructed officers not to assist or cooperate with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation. The OIG found those allegations were not substantiated.

Following its inquiry, the Office of the Inspector General forwarded recommendations to ODNR suggesting updates to the department's Suspected Illegal Activities Policy to Mirror the Governor's Procedures for Notification of Employee Wrongdoing and/or Suspected Illegal Activity, specifically suggesting that ODNR policy should require all suspected illegal activity be reported immediately to the Director or Chief Legal Council of ODNR.

The Inspector General's Office additionally recommended ODNR internally review the actions of all employees involved to determined whether their conduct warrants further administrative action or training.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in Brown County Court of Common Pleas on April 21.

The Office of the Inspector General's report is available online at watchdog.ohio.gov.
 
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RE: Ohio wildlife officers face multiple charges

Postby Ohio farms » Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:30 pm

I smell a rat...
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