COLUMBUS — A Cincinnati anti-abortion activist was in regular contact with Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office during a 2015 Planned Parenthood investigation and some of her input was shared with state investigators, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.
The records shed new light on the internal handling of an investigation DeWine launched in response to a secretly taped video that appeared to show Planned Parenthood employees engaged in potentially illegal fetal tissue sales.
DeWine, an abortion opponent and gubernatorial candidate, ultimately found no such tissue sales by the abortion provider, but raised concerns about Planned Parenthood’s disposal of fetal remains that he said had to be addressed.
The documents show Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, emailed DeWine’s community liaison detailed suggestions for carrying out the probe, including names, addresses and a lawyer to consult.
The liaison, Richard D. “Dee” Weghorst, forwarded some of Westwood’s communications to senior staff members, including chief of staff Mary Mertz, chief counsel Sheryl Creed Maxfield and then-policy director Ryan Stubenrauch, who’s now the spokesman for DeWine’s gubernatorial campaign.
Also, Robert Schmansky, a lawyer involved in the investigation, reported to Maxfield in an Aug. 10, 2015, email that he’d spoken with Westwood by phone. He said she passed along two tips regarding the relationship between Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and alleged stem-cell research at the hospital using fetal tissues.
Schmansky noted that Westwood “conceded that she has no direct information,” but told Maxfield: “I will follow-up with Pete (Thomas, chief of the Charitable Law Section) on how we might incorporate any of this information into our investigation.”
Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, said state investigations need to be impartial and appearing to give special access to those with a particular political ideology is potentially problematic for DeWine.
“It is easier to understand a quid pro quo of a financial situation than with making investigative decisions based on ideology and your cozy relationships, but it’s still a conflict of interest,” she said.
Westwood said in an interview that she did not know Maxfield and could not recall ever speaking with Schmansky on the phone. She said Weghorst is her organization’s regional contact at the office.
“There is a concern that there may be some activity going on that is shady and, essentially, it was ‘Have you looked into this? This may be a possibility.’ That’s about it,” Westwood said. “I would say, as any citizen can, these are our public officials and we can ask these questions. I see their office as (a place) both Right to Life and Planned Parenthood can access for information or to ask them to look into certain things.”
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the office handles tens of thousands of constituent inquiries like Westwood’s each year.
“If somebody’s taking the emails that you received and the records request to think that Paula Westwood is directing an investigation of our Charitable Law section, that would be a misreading of those emails,” he said.
Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, campaign director for Planned Parenthood Votes Ohio, the group’s super PAC, said DeWine has led a “crusade” against Planned Parenthood with the help of anti-abortion groups.
“In 2015, Attorney General Mike DeWine launched a baseless investigation against Planned Parenthood without doing any due diligence into the underlying falsehoods and used it as a political attack.”
Stubenrauch, the spokesman for DeWine’s gubernatorial campaign, said: “The investigation into Planned Parenthood uncovered the gruesome practice of disposing of aborted babies in a landfill in Kentucky. We continue to hope that the Legislature will pass a law and prevent something as tragic as this from happening again in the future.”
Planned Parenthood has said it wasn’t a typical landfill, but a solid waste facility specifically licensed for medical material.
In an earlier release of records surrounding the investigation, the AP found a close relationship between DeWine and Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, including direct emails.
Neither request turned up evidence that DeWine’s office shared its Planned Parenthood report with Gonidakis or Westwood in advance. Yet both Ohio Right to Life and Right of Life of Cincinnati, which are unaffiliated, had their press releases out within minutes after DeWine’s report was issued.
Julie Carr Smyth can be reached on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/jcarrsmyth.
Patrol honors fallen officers and support personnel at memorial ceremony
By Ohio State Highway Patrol
What: The Ohio State Highway Patrol will recognize and honor 40 officers, an enforcement agent and five support personnel killed in the line of duty with a memorial ceremony Friday, May 4, in Columbus.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol will recognize and honor 40 officers, an enforcement agent and five support personnel killed in the line of duty since the Division’s establishment in 1933. Family members of the fallen personnel as well as former and current Patrol employees will join in observance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Ohio Attorney General DeWine, Ohio Law Enforcement Officers Honor 791 Killed in the Line of Duty
LONDON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, members of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, and law enforcement officers from throughout the state gathered for the annual Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony to honor the 791 Ohio peace officers who have died in the line of duty since 1823.
“We can never fully repay these officers, but we do our best to honor their commitment and sacrifice,” said Attorney General DeWine. “We remember how they embraced their oath of service with courage, and we will never forget their bravery.”
Among those honored today include four officers who died in 2017:
Officer David J. Fahey Jr. Cleveland Division of Police
On January 24, 2017, Officer David J. Fahey Jr., 39, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while assisting at the scene of an accident. Officer Fahey is remembered as a dedicated public servant who always had a smile on his face. At Fahey’s memorial service, Police Chief Calvin Williams said the officer set an example of exemplary service to which all officers should aspire. “He’s the kind of officer we all should be. He was professional, and he cared about the people of this city. He was the ultimate public servant.”
Chief Steven “Eric” DiSario Kirkersville Police Department
On May 12, 2017, less than a month into his job as chief of the Kirkersville Police Department, Chief Steven “Eric” DiSario, 38, responded to reports of an armed man outside a nursing home. The gunman shot and killed Chief DiSario and went inside the building and killed two others before killing himself. During the chief’s memorial service, Pastor Steve Brown of St. Luke Lutheran Church said “He never did anything half way. There was never a dull moment when you lived with Eric DiSario. He wouldn’t go anywhere without a smile on his face. He showed he really loved his life.”
Patrolman Marvin “Scott” Moyer Lancaster Police Department
On May 26, 2017, Patrolman Marvin “Scott” Moyer, 66, died from complications from a disease he contracted after coming into contact with a suspect’s blood when he removed a shard of glass from the man’s ankle in 1998. Patrolman Moyer, a member of the Lancaster Police Department for more than 18 years, was a servant of God, family, community, and country. Throughout his career he won many honors, including six Top Marksman awards from the police department. Officer Moyer also spent time providing counseling to men at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.
Officer Justin A. Leo Girard Police Department
On October 21, 2017, Officer Justin A. Leo, 31, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call. “Justin was one of those guys who loved walking the beat downtown,” Girard Police Chief John Norman said. “He had a great personality and enjoyed interacting with people.” He is remembered for his love of sports. He was a member of the Girard High School state champion cross country team in 2000. Later, he umpired for the Girard baseball leagues, coached a youth basketball team, and helped with a golf team.
Also honored were five officers who were nominated for induction to the memorial after their departments discovered that the officers had made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities in the past.
Constable Franklin Stone, Oberlin Police Department
Constable Franklin Stone, 45, died on June 5, 1881, after being shot 24 days prior. Constable Stone was trying to serve a warrant on a suspect, who then ran to his father’s house. When the officer reached the home, the father of the suspect was armed and waiting. He shot Stone, who died of his injuries.
Deputy Samuel J. Mautz, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Samuel J. Mautz, 25, died on July 11, 1921, after he was shot while trying to take action during a robbery attempt. Mautz, who was off-duty at the time, was sitting in his car when two armed men approached and threatened him and his passenger at gunpoint. When Mautz reached for his gun, he was shot.
Deputy Marshal Donald O. McLaughlin, Beverly Police Department
Deputy Marshal Donald O. McLaughlin, 43, was returning to Beverly after transporting a prisoner to the county jail when his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle that veered into his lane on State Route 60, four miles north of Marietta. Deputy McLaughlin died at the scene on August 16, 1970.
Patrolman Bradley T. Scott, Elyria Police Department
Patrolman Bradley T. Scott, 30, was killed on August 27, 2004, in a motorcycle crash while he was on detail to support a police association event. Scott, an eight-year veteran of the Elyria Police Department, was on his way to pick up supplies for the event when a car pulled out in front of him at an intersection. Patrolman Scott was killed in the collision.
Sergeant Martin A. Stanton, Cleveland Division of Police
Sergeant Martin A. Stanton, 47, died on September 27, 2010, after suffering a fatal heart attack after being involved in two foot chases in one shift. During the first incident, Sergeant Stanton, a 16-year veteran of the Cleveland Division of Police, was providing backup to officers on a traffic stop and ended up pursuing a suspect. Afterward, he didn’t feel well but refused medical treatment. A short time later, he saw a man tampering with vehicles. When Stanton confronted him, the suspect fled on foot. Stanton pursued him over several fences but was unable to catch him. Afterward, Stanton’s condition worsened, and he died at home.
The names of the fallen officers honored today have been added to the Ohio Fallen Officers’ Memorial Wall, which stands as a lasting tribute to Ohio’s 791 officers who gave their lives for their communities since 1823. The wall is located at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, Ohio, where today’s ceremony was held.
A moment of silence was also observed for Officer Eric Joering and Officer Anthony Morelli, both of the Westerville Police Department, who were killed on February 10, 2018. The two officers will be formally honored at the memorial ceremony in 2019.
In addition, one K-9 killed in 2017 while serving law enforcement and one historical K-9 memorial inductee were recognized as part of the Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony.
K-9 Dino Green Township Police Department
On September 25, 2017, K-9 Dino and his handler were called in to help track three suspects involved in a burglary and child abduction. Several minutes into the assignment, the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois-German Shepherd mix collapsed and stopped breathing. Dino was rushed to a veterinary hospital but could not be revived.
K-9 Uganda Perkins Township Police Department
K-9 Uganda was on a training exercise when she became ill with a flipped stomach. Days later, on December 4, 2016, she died due to complications from surgery. During her time on the force, she and her handler were responsible for many drug-related arrests. She also tracked missing persons and assisted other agencies.
Both dogs’ names have been added to a plaque displayed at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
Former Corrections Officer, Probation Officer Charged with Sexual Battery, Kidnapping, Gross Sexual Imposition
POMEROY, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a former corrections officer and probation officer in Meigs County has been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to the alleged sexual assault or attempted sexual assault of nearly a dozen woman under his supervision.
A Meigs County grand jury indicted Larry D. Tucker, 55, of Pomeroy, on the following 28 charges:
- Kidnapping, six counts, felonies of the first degree
- Sexual battery, six counts, felonies of the third degree
- Gross sexual imposition (GSI), five counts, felonies of the fourth degree
- Attempted sexual battery, five counts, felonies of the fourth degree
- Attempted compelling prostitution, four counts, felonies of the fourth degree
- Soliciting, one count, misdemeanor of the third degree
- Theft in office, one count, felony of the fifth degree
The defendant was arrested over the weekend in Ashland County.
According to an investigation conducted by Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Tucker is accused of sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault 11 different inmates and/or probationers while working as a corrections officer at the Middleport Jail and as a Meigs County Common Pleas Court probation officer.
The incidents are alleged to have occurred between January 2011 and November 2017.
Each sexual battery charge and kidnapping charge carries a sexual violent predator specification. The six kidnapping charges also carry specifications alleging that the crimes were committed with sexual motivation.
Evidence of alleged theft in office was also uncovered over the course of the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section.
Video shows Ohio police officer kicking a man in the head during an arrest
By Amir Vera, CNN
Sat May 5, 2018
Franklin Township, Ohio, police are investigating video of an officer shown kicking a suspect.
(CNN) A Franklin Township, Ohio, police officer has been placed on administrative leave after a video of him kicking an 18-year-old man in the head went viral on social media.
An offense report says the incident took place Tuesday when a suspect fleeing police crashed into two parked vehicles and a police vehicle.
A video recorded by a witness shows one officer holding down a man — whose arms are behind his back — while another officer walks around a car and kicks the man in the head and then kneels next to him.
The suspect was identified by his attorney as Anthony Foster, 18.
“He was sitting motionless on the ground as a police officer kicks him like a football. It’s not what we want from our police in this country,” the attorney, Joe Landusky II, told CNN.
Landusky said Foster is facing charges that include failure to comply with the order of police. Officers allege that after they pulled Foster over, they found drug paraphernalia in his vehicle, Landusky said. Foster also received a speeding ticket, allegedly going 90 mph in a 25-mph zone. The lawyer said his client will plead not guilty Monday.
Police did not respond to inquiries about Foster’s charges.
Franklin Township police Chief Byron C. Smith did say in a statement his office was advised of the incident and the department is investigating.
“This department will not tolerate officer misconduct,” Smith said. He did not identify the officer.
Foster’s mother, Nicki Sammons, told CNN affiliate WCMH that she thought both officers in the video should have their badges taken away.
“They shouldn’t be able to work or go to another law enforcement place or work for another county, none of that. Because if you get by with it, clearly you’re going to do it again,” she told the TV station.
CNN is working to confirm the extent of Foster’s injuries.
While the physical injuries will heal, Sammons said, the mental scars may not.
“Everybody always wonders why all of these kids hate cops,” Sammons told WCMH. “When you see stuff like this, that is why. They make it worse.”
The Ohio incident took place two days before one in Miami in which an officer also was caught on video kicking a man in the head. That man also was on the ground and was being detained.
A witness recorded the actions of the Miami officer on a cell phone. The video shows a man lying in a yard with his hands on his head. The first police officer approaches him and starts putting handcuffs on the man. A police report identified the man as David Suazo, who was not resisting and was lying on his stomach. His hands are being restrained. Suddenly, another officer can be seen running toward him and kicking him in the head.
That officer then drops to the ground next to the suspect and appears to put him in a headlock.
The officer in the Miami incident was identified as Mario Figueroa, who was suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation.
CNN’s Sheena Jones contributed to this report.
Ohio Woman Charged with Stealing Children’s Inheritance
NORWALK, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today (May 4) that an Ohio woman is facing charges of grand theft and forgery for allegedly stealing nearly $100,000 from the trusts belonging to two children whose father died in 2007.
A Huron County grand jury indicted Stacie Bement, 45, of Wakeman, on 12 charges of forgery and three charges of grand theft. The charges are all felonies of the fourth degree.
The defendant was arrested this afternoon.
An investigation by the Norwalk Police Department found that Bement allegedly forged the trust custodian’s signature in order to transfer money to her personal bank account on multiple occasions between 2008 and 2012.
The trusts were created with life insurance money that was set aside for the children of an Ohio man who died more than ten years ago.
“It was the father’s wish that the money be given to his two children once they turned 18. Sadly, when the eldest child was old enough to access his account, he found that both trusts had been wiped out years ago,” said Attorney General DeWine.
Bement also allegedly created fictitious financial statements that made it appear as if the funds were still in the bank.
She allegedly spent the money from the trusts on a car, mortgage, and living expenses.
The case is being prosecuted by attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section.
Attorney General DeWine Statement on Discovery Tours
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today (May 4) issued the following statement on Discovery Tours, a tour company that has generated more than 170 complaints since Wednesday:
“Like many schools and families, we are very concerned about what’s happening with Discovery Tours and we want answers. As we gather information, I want Ohioans to know that this is a priority for my office, and we will do everything we can to assist. We want to hear from Ohioans who have used this company.”
Between late Wednesday evening and Friday morning, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section received more than 170 complaints about Discovery Tours, primarily from parents who said they were concerned about canceled school trips after they had paid the company hundreds of dollars.
Attorney General DeWine’s Consumer Protection Section is reaching out to potentially affected school districts and gathering information from consumers. Affected consumers are encouraged to file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Complaints may be filed online on the Ohio Attorney General’s website or by calling the Attorney General’s Help Center between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 800-282-0515. The office also has created a special complaint form that schools and individuals may use; however, using the special form is not required, and those who have already filed complaints do not need to file again.
Secretary Husted Appoints Rebecca Pokorski to the Union County Board of Elections
COLUMBUS – Secretary of State Jon Husted has appointed Rebecca R. Pokorski as a member of the Union County Board of Elections. Ms. Pokorski will fill the unexpired term of Teri Lemaster.
State law requires bipartisan representation on each of Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections. Each board is made up of two Republican members and two Democratic members, all of whom must be qualified electors in the counties for which they serve. The Secretary of State makes appointments to boards of elections based on the recommendations of the executive committees of the respective county political parties.
Rebecca Pokorski was recommended by the Union County Democratic Party Executive Committee.