Marijuana Legalization Petition Rejected

Staff Reports

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office rejected the petition for a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution which would legalize marijuana in Ohio.

On April 9th, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received a written petition to amend the Ohio Constitution, entitled the “Marijuana Rights and Regulations Amendment” from the attorney representing the petitioning committee. The summary was rejected for several reasons, including:

The summary language giving the General Assembly authority to regulate “marijuana commerce” does not accurately reflect the actual amendment language.

The summary omits references in the amendment that “Marijuana businesses shall be lawful only in those voting precincts in which the majority of the voters approved this section.”

The summary omits references in the amendment that “The General Assembly shall within 240 days after the effective date enact and enable laws, rules, and regulations consistent with this section.”

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stated in his letter rejecting the petition. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”

In order for a constitutional amendment to proceed, an initial petition containing summary language of the amendment and 1,000 signatures from Ohio registered voters must be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General. Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board would determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

The full text of the letter and of the initiative petitions submitted can be found at

Eight Arrested in Undercover Operation Aimed at Reducing Demand for Sex Trafficking

WARREN — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel announced April 19 that an undercover operation aimed at reducing demand for sex trafficking has led to the arrests of eight men, including one suspect who investigators believe was allegedly attempting to recruit an undercover officer into the sex trade.

The suspects were taken into custody yesterday as part of an investigation by the Warren Police Department and Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.

The eight suspects were arrested after investigators said the men responded to online advertisements placed by law enforcement. The suspects allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer and arrived at a location in Warren expecting a sexual encounter for-hire with an adult female.

“This investigation shows that the demand for sex trafficking is still being fueled by people looking to purchase sex through online sites,” said Attorney General DeWine. “My office and our partners in law enforcement will continue to aggressively monitor websites and applications where sex is being marketed and intend to hold those buying and selling sex – and the websites that host sex-trafficking ads – accountable.”

“Warren Police will continue its online presence to investigate those who come into the City and contemplate similar bad acts as those arrested in this recent sting,” said Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel. “We will continue to partner with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force to deter these types of individuals from committing their crimes in Warren.”

Lamont Davis, 20, of Warren, was arrested on felony charges of promoting prostitution (F4) and possession of criminal tools (F5) after investigators said he made statements to an undercover officer allegedly in an attempt to recruit the officer to work with him in the sex trade.

Joseph Tennant, 44, of Youngstown, was charged with promoting prostitution (F4), possession of criminal tools (F5), and solicitation (M3) after he allegedly attempted to purchase sex for himself and for a friend.

The following six suspects were arrested on charges of possession of criminal tools and/or solicitation:

Dain Bancroft, 55, Mineral Ridge: Solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)

Patrick Cassidy, 54, Hubbard: Solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)

Jay Barbe, 55, West Farmington: Solicitation (M3)

Phillip Salus, 50, Salineville: Solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools, (M1)

Donald Lingenfelter, 48, Sharon, Pennsylvania: Solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)

Bryan Calai, 35, Warren: Solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)

The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force includes investigators from the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crimes Against Children Unit, Warren Police Department, Austintown Police Department, New Middletown Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, and Ohio State Highway Patrol. Authorities with the Warren Law Director’s Office, Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, Howland Police Department, and Ohio Investigative Unit assisted with the investigation.

Ohio Woman Indicted for Forgery, Theft from Elderly Victim

LONDON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a London, Ohio, woman is now facing felony charges following an investigation conducted as part of his Elder Justice Initiative.

Ashley Muncie, 33, was indicted by a Madison County grand jury on charges of forgery and theft, both felonies of the fourth degree.

Muncie is accused of forging more than $6,000 in checks belonging to an elderly West Jefferson man between November 2012 and April 2013. The victim suffered from dementia.

“The victim in this case trusted the defendant, but our investigation found that the trust was built on nothing but deception,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The suspect allegedly helped herself to his checking account, and these charges are the first step in holding her accountable for these crimes.”

The case is being prosecuted by attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section. Special agents with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Elder Justice Initiative.

Attorney General DeWine launched the Elder Justice Initiative in 2014 to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases and improve victims’ access to services in Ohio. Anyone who suspects incidents of elder abuse or financial exploitation should contact their local authorities or the Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Justice Initiative at 1-800-282-0515.

Warning signs of elder abuse include:

  • Changes in an older adult’s physical appearance, such as weight loss or unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Changes in an older adult’s personality or mood
  • Changes in an older adult’s finances or money management
  • A dominating, threatening caregiver or new “best friend”
  • Exclusion from other family members or friends
  • Changes in an older adult’s home environment

Planned Parenthood statement

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement regarding last week’s ruling in Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges:

“After reviewing the Sixth Circuit panel decision, the Ohio Attorney General’s office will request en banc review. Nothing in the Constitution requires Ohio to use its funding discretion under these programs to support abortion providers, and we will appeal to the full Sixth Circuit.”

Staff Reports

Source: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Source: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.