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Table of Contents
FROM THE DESK OF ATTORNEY GENERAL CORDRAY FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS Holding Wall Street accountable Standing up for consumers Top 10 consumer complaint categories Fighting foreclosure Watching Ohio’s bottom line Enforcing fairness in the marketplace Protecting the environment Prosecuting health care fraud Warning consumers about fraud JOINING FORCES TO FIGHT CRIME Strengthening law enforcement capabilities Using science to solve crime Overseeing peace officer training Leveraging resources Partnering on difficult issues Providing aid to crime victims Supporting the work of prosecutors ADVOCATING FOR OHIO Success in court Defending Ohio’s capital punishment law Supporting pivotal cases Protecting Ohioans’ civil rights Enforcing tobacco laws Protecting the bottom line ATTORNEY GENERAL’S STAFF
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From the Desk Of The Ohio Attorney General
Dear Ohioans, While responding to an ever-increasing list of challenges in a trying year for Ohioans, my staff and I committed ourselves to use the power of this office to stand up for the interests of ordinary citizens and to battle the ills that weaken our society.
Ohioans face threats from a multitude of individuals and entities that can best be described as predators. These are not just violent criminals. Predators also are unscrupulous businesses or deceitful scammers who try to enrich themselves at the expense of hardworking citizens. In 2009, my office identified predators and predatory practices and then worked to combat them. We found them on Wall Street, where wrongdoing by some has contributed to misery for many and where Ohioans who rely on the health of their retirement investments were harmed. They were in our homes, masquerading as a group that collects money for veterans in need or as a home improvement company promising work it never intended to complete. And they were in our communities, testing our local law enforcement agencies and putting our families at risk. This 2009 annual report describes our efforts on multiple fronts to confront those who threaten Ohioans’ livelihoods. It also outlines the vital work we do as the state’s legal advocate. As Attorney General, I believe in applying the office’s resources so we do well by those we represent in court as well as by everyday Ohioans who deserve to have someone stand by their side and fight to protect them. This summary of our work illustrates what I see every day — the dedication and hard work of the employees of an office that I am honored to lead.
Richard Cordray Ohio Attorney General
Attorney General Cordray has made it a priority to use his office’s powers to fight for Ohio consumers, pensioners, taxpayers and families. He has expanded the office’s scope to confront problems such as foreclosure and scams that target small businesses while assertively carrying out the office’s traditional role of protecting Ohioans by holding Wall Street accountable for misdeeds that have harmed pensioners, enforcing environmental laws and rooting out health care fraud.
Fighting for Ohioans
FROM WALL STREET TO MAIN STREET
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
HOLDING WALL STREET ACCOUNTABLE Attorney General Cordray is working to hold the biggest names on Wall Street accountable for violations of securities laws that injured the hard-earned investments of Ohio workers, families and retirees. The office is taking a lead role in eight major securities actions on behalf of Ohio’s public pension funds and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The office is pursuing relief on behalf of investors and retirees who have been harmed in Ohio and around the world.
In 2009, the Attorney General’s Office: Led a class-action lawsuit against AIG for securities fraud that resulted in the loss of shareholder value, including losses to Ohio’s pension funds. The disclosure of AIG’s participation in an illegal industrywide market division scheme involving the payment of improper “steering” commissions and bid-rigging caused the loss of billions in shareholder value. To date, the Attorney General’s Office has negotiated $284.5 million in settlements with several secondary defendants, subject to court approval. The main defendant remaining is AIG. Was selected as lead plaintiff in a securities fraud class-action suit filed against Bank of America. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a group of public pension funds, stems from undisclosed losses at Merrill Lynch just prior to the merger with Bank of America as well as undisclosed agreements to pay billions in bonuses to Merrill Lynch executives. Aggressively pursued an earnings management securities fraud class-action lawsuit on behalf of investors, including Ohio’s pension funds, harmed by securities violations by Fannie Mae and its executives from 2001 to 2004. The suit is considered one of the largest accounting fraud cases in United States corporate history. Asserted that Freddie Mac and its former officers and executives falsely assured investors of the safety and soundness of the company’s loan portfolios, capital position and underwriting policies. Negotiated and finalized a $400 million settlement with Marsh & McLennan Cos. The case, one of the top 25 securities classaction lawsuits in history, involved representations the company made about revenue derived from illegal, anticompetitive agreements with insurance providers. Secured one of the nation’s top 15 securities class-action settlements, against Merrill Lynch. The $475 million settlement stemmed from Merrill Lynch’s exposure to residential mortgage-related debt, which caused its stock price to decline dramatically. Took action against the nation’s three largest credit rating agencies — Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. The Attorney General alleges that the agencies offered inaccurate and artificially inflated evaluations of financial products known as mortgagebacked securities in exchange, at least in part, for exorbitant fees from the issuers of the securities. Finalized a $922 million settlement with UnitedHealth. The class-action lawsuit accused UnitedHealth of backdating stock options, which resulted in the gross overpayment of senior executives and misstatements in company financial reports.
RETURNING $$$ TO INVESTORS The Ohio Attorney General’s Office settled several major securities lawsuits. The breakdown:
+ + + =
from Merrill Lynch
from Marsh & McLennan Cos.
from secondary defendants in AIG case
recovered for investors
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
STANDING UP FOR CONSUMERS Some of the Attorney General’s most vital work focuses on protecting Ohio’s consumers. Since the state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act was passed in the early 1970s, the Attorney General’s Office has enforced the law by responding to consumers’ problems through an informal complaint resolution process and, in some cases, legal action. In 2009, Attorney General Cordray continued this mission while introducing new ways to protect Ohioans from scams.
TIRING OF SCAMS Ohioans filed a record 30,259 consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s Office, up 20 percent from the previous year. The office took several steps to make it easier for Ohioans to file complaints about unscrupulous businesses and scams. Its Help Center now takes consumer complaints over the phone instead of requiring Ohioans to file a complaint form by mail. The office also revamped its Web site and introduced a convenient online form for filing complaints at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. The measures reduce the work consumers have to do to speak out. Some examples of how the office helped individual consumers: When a Medina County woman bought a device to access the Internet from her cell phone, she had no idea she was signing up for a two-year contract with her wireless company. Unable to solve the problem herself, she filed a complaint with the Attorney General. As a result, the company gave her 30 days to return the device for a full refund. A Montgomery County father bought a Global Positioning System (GPS) as a gift for his daughter. The GPS he ordered had several nice features, but he later noticed that the GPS his daughter actually received was a less sophisticated, lower-priced model. He filed a complaint with the Attorney General and, with the help of the specialist assigned to his complaint, received the correct GPS. When high winds damaged his home, a Columbus resident hired a roofing company to make repairs. He thought the company had done its job until a few months later, when a second wind storm blew shingles off the roof and revealed that the earlier damage was never properly repaired. When the company refused to make the situation right, he filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, which directed the company to finish the job correctly.
PROVIDING FUEL FOR LEGAL ACTION Complaints from Ohioans gave the Consumer Protection Section enough facts to open 243 investigations and file 38 lawsuits alleging unfair and deceptive business practices. The section also obtained 34 judgments and assurances of voluntary compliance that produced approximately $4.1 million in consumer restitution, civil penalties, costs and other relief. An additional $2.85 million was saved or returned to consumers through the section’s complaint resolution process. Among the lawsuits: BlueHippo Funding LLC and BlueHippo Capital LLC (collectively BlueHippo) advertise computers through print, radio and TV ads, offering consumers guaranteed approval for financing without a credit check. The advertisements promise other “free” products, such as printers and televisions. The Attorney General sued BlueHippo, alleging that the company misrepresented the quality of computers, the terms of contracts and the delivery dates for products and committed other violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act. Manuel Torres, owner of the promotion company Latin Explosion and El Palenque Party House, promoted a concert by the Latin band Los Temerarios through radio advertisements, posters and banners. Consumers paid $35 to $100 per ticket. Not only did the band not play, the concert had never been scheduled. The Attorney General’s Office sued for violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act. Nation’s Construction, a Columbus contractor that does business as Columbus Fire Repair, allegedly sent representatives to consumers’ homes shortly after they sustained extensive fire damage, often within hours of a fire. Consumers entered into contracts for the repair of their damaged homes, but the company did minimal work and kept the consumers’ insurance money, leaving their homes in disarray. The Attorney General filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act, including failure to deliver, shoddy workmanship and misleading statements and representations. To view a full list of cases, see the Consumer Protection Section’s annual report at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/ 2009ConsumerProtectionReport.
EARNING RECOGNITION FOR LEADERSHIP Susan Choe, who began the year as chief of the office’s Civil Rights Section and ended it leading the Consumer Protection Section, was named the 2009 recipient of the John C. and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award. The Ohio State Bar Association presented the award in recognition of Choe’s outstanding pro bono service in leading the contributions the Attorney General’s Office made to foreclosure prevention.
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
CONSUMER COMPLAINTS REACH RECORD HIGHS Every year, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section compiles the top 10 categories of complaints. In 2009, the top 10 consumer complaints concerned:
ASSISTING SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS The Attorney General’s informal complaint process — previously available only to individual consumers — now is accessible to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Just like consumers, Ohio’s small businesses and nonprofits are taken advantage of by scammers who fail to deliver products that have been paid for, perform shoddy workmanship or charge for advertisements that were never authorized or office supplies that were never ordered. In July, the office opened up the complaint process to a test market of small businesses and nonprofits. In just six months, the Consumer Protection Section received more than 500 complaints and was able to recover about $60,000 on behalf of businesses and nonprofits. Here are just a few examples of those assisted: A Trotwood trucking company employee purchased a truck over the Internet for about $8,000. After the customer paid for the product, the supplier failed to deliver and refused to return phone calls. The Attorney General’s Office resolved the issue, and the company received the truck. A West Jefferson library was charged for a Web service that it never authorized. The Attorney General’s Office recovered $244. Similarly, a Columbus auto repair company was charged $849 for a Web site advertisement that it did not want. A complaint specialist resolved the issue, and the auto repair company did not have to pay the charges. A Southeast Ohio visitors’ bureau was tricked into buying unneeded and overpriced toner for a new printer. Even after the bureau returned the toner, the company asked for a restocking fee of about $75. The Attorney General’s Office intervened, ensuring the bureau did not have to pay the fee.
CATCHING BOGUS CHARITIES As part of its responsibility to monitor professional solicitors, the office’s Charitable Law Section joined a national crackdown targeting phony fundraisers who ask for money on the pretense it will help police officers, firefighters or veterans. In one case, employees of Community Support Inc., a Wisconsin-based professional fundraising company, claimed or implied they were police or military officials and misrepresented how charities would use donors’ contributions. A consent agreement involving Ohio and 31 other states required the company to comply with each state’s solicitation laws and pay a $200,000 fine.
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Collections, credit reporting and financial services
Household goods and property improvement
Internet and phone
Shopping, food and beverages
Computers and electronics
Health and beauty
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
FIGHTING FORECLOSURE Attorney General Cordray has continued to make fighting foreclosure a priority by employing the office’s powers to hold accountable home appraisal companies, mortgage servicers, predatory lenders and rescue scam operations that helped fuel the foreclosure crisis.
STANDING UP TO DECEPTION Ohio became the first state in the nation to bring action against loan servicers for unfair and deceptive business practices. The lawsuits — against Carrington Mortgage Services, American Home Mortgage Servicing and Barclays Capital Real Estate Inc. (dba HomEq Servicing) — are ongoing. EXPOSING FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS Rescue scam operations prey on homeowners worried about foreclosure by promising to save their homes for an up-front fee and then failing to do so. The Attorney General’s Office launched a statewide sweep targeting such operations, issuing approximately 30 cease-and-desist orders and filing seven lawsuits. CRACKING DOWN ON MORTGAGE FRAUD The Attorney General’s Office participates in several mortgage fraud task forces that investigate criminal predatory practices. The work of the Cuyahoga County Mortgage Fraud Task Force, for example, led to the indictment of 41 people and four companies alleged to have used $44 million in fraudulent loans to purchase 453 homes. HOLDING CORPORATE PROPERTY OWNERS ACCOUNTABLE The office is supporting the city of Cleveland’s attempt to take on companies that own large numbers of vacant and neglected
properties. The Cleveland Housing Court is trying two corporations in absentia — Washington Mutual and Destiny Ventures — because they have failed to appear for trial on housing code violations. The Attorney General supports conducting the trials in absentia and has filed amicus briefs in both cases, which have advanced to the Ohio Supreme Court. SUPPORTING SERVICES FOR HOMEOWNERS Struggling homeowners benefited when the Attorney General’s Office made available through a competitive grant procedure $1 million in funds from the state’s settlement with Countrywide Financial Corp. The company had used unfair and deceptive tactics in loan origination activities. The funds were directed to 14 local organizations with counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 13,000 families facing foreclosure will benefit from the counseling services. HELPING SAVE THE DREAM More than 36,000 Ohioans contacted the Attorney General’s Office in 2009 about the Save the Dream initiative, a multi-agency effort to help Ohioans avoid foreclosure. Qualified callers to the Save the Dream hotline (888-404-4674) are referred to a housing counselor or an attorney who can provide free assistance.
WATCHING OHIO’S BOTTOM LINE The Attorney General’s Office used wise economic strategies to bring more cash into state coffers and reduce expenses.
DOING WORK IN-HOUSE The Construction Litigation Group, a specialized team of attorneys and support staff within the Court of Claims Defense Section, assists state agencies and institutions during construction projects. The group helps clients understand legal requirements for selecting architects and engineers and initiates legal action to recover for defective work. Having experienced litigators do this legal work in-house saves the state at least $1.3 million a year. Similarly, assistant attorneys general who handle workers’ compensation defense, employment law and litigation for colleges, universities and other education clients are a key reason why expenditures for special counsel in the Cordray administration are down considerably from recent years, falling from almost $38 million in fiscal 2006 to $22.7 million in fiscal 2009. REDUCING CONTRACT COSTS The Attorney General’s Office identified a number of ways to cut costs and run more efficiently. Among the most successful was an officewide review of vendor contracts. The Business Counsel Section negotiated a price reduction with each vendor whose contract was up for renewal. The measure will save more than $2.6 million over the current biennium (July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2011). Other contracts were eliminated, providing an additional savings of nearly $370,000 by July 2011. TAKING PAY REDUCTIONS All nonbargaining-unit employees, including Attorney General Cordray, accepted 10 furlough days during each year of the biennium, the equivalent of a 3.8 percent pay cut. Two of the office’s bargaining units also accepted the furlough days; negotiations with the third unit were ongoing at press time. Additionally, no annual wage increases were given.
RECOVERING RECORD REVENUE The Revenue Recovery Section contacts debtors directly or works with private collection agencies to resolve debts owed to state agencies such as the Department of Taxation, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In 2009, the section broke all prior records, collecting $365.2 million, up more than $20 million from the year before. Collections Enforcement operates the “offer in compromise” program, which allows a person who owes the state money to negotiate a sum less than the balance owed. The program reduced the time it takes to process an application from 18 months to two months. Collections Enforcement negotiated three settlements that generated more than $8 million: Delphi, which filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 11 in 2005, paid a settlement of $4.26 million to the Ohio Department of Taxation to settle a claim for sales and use tax. UBS Financial paid $2.1 million to the Ohio Department of Taxation to settle a case related to discrepancies in its dealer and intangible tax filings. Collections Enforcement recovered $2.5 million for 13 state universities in a case involving asbestos removal dating back to 1986.
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
ENFORCING FAIRNESS IN THE MARKETPLACE Attorney General Cordray protects businesses, workers and retirees who play by the rules. In 2009, that meant intervening in the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler to ensure that the rights of consumers, auto dealers and others were respected. A new office initiative combats worker misclassification.
ADVOCATING FOR OHIOANS’ RIGHTS Attorney General Cordray stepped in on behalf of workers in the General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcies by filing limited objections to federal litigation. As a result, the office secured concessions that protected Ohioans’ rights as consumers, retirees and business owners and prevented them from having to compensate for the automakers’ liabilities and expenses. The concessions protected consumers’ lemon law claims and personal information as well as dealers’ rights under state franchise and dealer laws. They also ensured full compliance with state tax liability and workers’ compensation laws. CRACKING DOWN ON AN UNDERGROUND ECONOMY State and local governments lose millions of dollars annually to an underground economy in which businesses pay workers under the table or wrongly categorize them as independent contractors. This is commonly known as “1099 abuse” in reference to the related Internal Revenue Service form. This illegal practice and the profits it produces give lawbreakers an unfair advantage over competitors who play by the rules. The Attorney General’s Office joined the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio Department of Taxation and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to crack down on businesses that abuse the system. Consequently, in 2009 the office brought 593 collections actions against 98 business entities, seeking about $2.1 million for 1099 misclassification. Ohio is leading a group of 16 states negotiating with FedEx, which the participating states’ attorneys believe is improperly treating its drivers as independent contractors rather than as employees. Improper classification allows the company to avoid paying certain taxes and leaves its workers without basic protections they are guaranteed by law, such as unemployment insurance.
ENFORCING WAGE LAWS When workers do not receive fair pay for their work, not only are they harmed, but so are the many businesses that follow the rules. In 2009, the office filed 16 prevailing wage collection actions seeking nearly $1.4 million and 111 minimum wage collection actions requesting more than $3.3 million in restitution and penalties. The office brought the largest minimum wage collection action in its history against Angels Learning Centers LLC, a day care provider with several locations in the Columbus area. The lawsuit accuses the company and four of its corporate officers of failing to pay minimum wage to 150 employees. It seeks about $408,000 in unpaid wages and about $816,000 in statutory penalties.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT The Attorney General’s Environmental Enforcement Section investigates and prosecutes those who break environmental laws and represents state agencies that safeguard Ohio’s natural resources, such as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In 2009, the section won $37.4 million in civil penalties, enforcement costs, environmental projects and attorney fees, $18 million more than the year before.
Some important cases the section won: Since 2001, Countywide Recycling and Disposal Facility, a Stark County landfill now owned by Republic Services of Ohio, has experienced an underground fire beneath 88 acres of its site. The fire led to a number of alarming conditions, including noxious odors and excessive gas pressure that caused leachate geysers to shoot from the ground. Environmental Enforcement negotiated a consent order requiring Republic to pay $10 million in civil penalties and to monitor and control the fire as well as address any future effect it may have on the facility. The Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice jointly lodged a complaint against INEOS and Lanxess, the current and former operators of a chemical facility in Addyston, west of Cincinnati. The facility had been emitting carcinogenic chemicals, prompting school district officials to close an elementary school across the street to protect students from exposure to toxic emissions. The numerous violations were resolved in a consent decree requiring INEOS and Lanxess to pay a penalty of $3.1 million — to be shared by the federal, state and local governments — as well as to monitor and reduce emissions from the facility. A metal plating company knowingly discharged untreated industrial wastewater into Dayton’s sewer system. The firm pled guilty after the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, part of the Attorney General’s Office, carried out covert sampling, conducted multiple interviews and executed a search warrant at the company.
WINNING CONVICTIONS Environmental Enforcement’s Criminal Enforcement Unit works with federal, state and local regulators, criminal investigators and attorneys on joint task forces to prosecute environmental crimes. In 2009, the Criminal Enforcement Unit investigated more than 100 matters and obtained convictions in 22 of its 23 state or federal court cases. PROTECTING LAKE ERIE Attorney General Cordray has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the adequacy of measures taken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state of Illinois to stop the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. The invasive fish could wreak havoc on the Great Lakes’ ecosystem and devastate Ohio’s commercial and sport fishing industries.
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
PROSECUTING HEALTH CARE FRAUD The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Section, recognized as one of the most effective and productive in the country, continued to set records in 2009. The section provides legal and investigative expertise for local prosecutors, law enforcement and multi-state and national Medicaid fraud cases.
Among the multi-state Medicaid fraud cases settled in 2009 was the nation’s largest-ever health care fraud case, in which Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle allegations of kickbacks and off-label marketing of drugs. In another case, Eli Lilly and Co. agreed to pay more than $1.4 billion to settle allegations of illegal drug marketing. Ohio’s share of those two settlements totaled more than $64 million. Funds recovered are used to reimburse Ohio’s Medicaid program. Overall, the Health Care Fraud Section produced: 228 indictments, up from 164 the year before 216 convictions, up from 187 in 2008 $91.4 million in recoveries, breaking the previous year’s record of $65.2 million Of that $91.2 million, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which investigates and prosecutes health care providers who defraud the state’s Medicaid program, produced $87.7 million in criminal restitution and civil settlements/judgments. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit also enforces Ohio laws protecting mentally or physically disabled or elderly citizens from neglect and abuse in long-term care facilities. In 2009, investigations of alleged patient abuse or neglect produced 20 indictments and 17 convictions.
A NATIONAL LEADER Attorney General Cordray’s Health Care Fraud Section is recognized as a leader among such units across the country. A recent statistical comparison of the 50 state Medicaid fraud control units by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, demonstrates why that’s so.
Ohio Medicaid Fraud Control Unit
Convictions per professional Recoveries per grant dollar Gross number of convictions Gross dollar recoveries
1 1 4 5
FIGHTING FOR OHIOANS
WARNING CONSUMERS ABOUT FRAUD In addition to using the power of the office to enforce Ohio’s consumer laws, the Attorney General made it a priority in 2009 to warn consumers of scams they might encounter.
Scammers are shameless, and they will try anything to seduce consumers into giving them money. They used buzz words such as “stimulus package,” “Cash for Clunkers” and “H1N1” to get people’s attention and make themselves appear credible. To combat these scammers, the office alerted the statewide media and launched www.SpeakOutOhio.gov, an interactive Web site featuring consumer tips, details about scams and other information. It also established a presence on Twitter — www.Twitter.com/OhioAG — to quickly issue scam warnings. The Attorney General’s Office introduced several Spanish-language publications and a consumer complaint form. Part of the office’s Web site now includes descriptions of important services to help residents resolve problems, gain information and file consumer complaints in Spanish at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/Queja.
MARIE LOPEZ OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S HELP CENTER FIELDS A CALL FROM AN OHIO CONSUMER.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is a force multiplier for the state’s 980 local law enforcement agencies and 88 county prosecutors’ offices, assisting them in training officers and investigating, solving and prosecuting crimes. This partnership provides crime-fighting resources and training that helps keep Ohioans safe.
Joining forces to fight crime
TRAINING AND LEGAL EXPERTISE
JOINING FORCES TO FIGHT CRIME
STRENGTHENING LAW ENFORCEMENT CAPABILITIES The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) provides cutting-edge technological and investigative assistance to Ohio’s front-line law enforcement agencies, all free of charge.
BCI&I’s scientists and forensic specialists provide critical services by analyzing physical evidence to assist in the investigation of current and cold cases. Scientists also maintain thousands of convicted offender and unidentified DNA profiles. Identification specialists oversee vast amounts of information that assist in criminal investigations, including millions of fingerprints and corresponding criminal histories. Investigators work closely with local law enforcement to solve major crimes. BCI&I is headquartered in London, Ohio, and has offices in Bowling Green, Richfield and Youngstown. KEEPING TABS ON CRIMINALS BCI&I’s Identification Division maintains one of the world’s largest collections of criminal history records and serves as the central repository for Ohio’s arrest records. In 2009, the bureau submitted 270,193 criminal arrest records to the FBI and entered 28,223 new criminal offender fingerprints into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). BCI&I also worked to increase the number of criminal offender palm prints in its system, which gives law enforcement an additional means of identifying criminals. By the end of the year, AFIS included 303,428 sets of palm prints — 62,694 of them submitted by 423 law enforcement agencies in 2009. MAKING BACKGROUND CHECKS MORE ACCESSIBLE BCI&I processed almost 815,000 civilian background checks, nearly
double the total seen 10 years earlier, in large part because so many professions now require such checks. To address the escalating volume, BCI&I sought advice from the FBI’s Process Improvement Team. In its first-ever assignment outside the FBI, the team analyzed the process and recommended improvements that eliminated a backlog by year’s end. Background checks are now more accessible and affordable for Ohioans as a result of a partnership between BCI&I and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The service provides state- and national-level background checks at 100 deputy registrar locations across Ohio, and additional expansion is planned. CONNECTING OFFICERS WITH INFORMATION, EACH OTHER The Attorney General’s Office maintains the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), a powerful Web tool through which agencies access and share data to prevent and solve crimes. More than a dozen applications are available through OHLEG, all at no cost to local law enforcement. Some 22,000 officials used OHLEG’s search engine 3.8 million times to access the system’s databases, including Bureau of Motor Vehicle records, the Electronic Sexual Offender Registration and Notification network (eSORN) and criminal history files. An upgrade made the search engine accessible from wireless handheld devices, enabling officers to tap into while on the road.
NO. 1 IN PROTECTING CHILDREN Ohio became the first state in the nation to achieve substantial implementation of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which is aimed at protecting the public from sex offenders. Ohio’s Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification database (eSORN) is maintained by BCI&I and linked to all of Ohio’s county sheriffs’ offices and correctional facilities. It provides a common system for law enforcement officials to share information about registered sex offenders. Following up on recommendations from the state’s sheriffs, who update the registry, the Attorney General’s Office distributed computers and cameras to all 88 county sheriffs’ offices for eSORN administration. BOLSTERING INVESTIGATIONS BCI&I’s Investigations Division helps law enforcement secure and analyze evidence, follow leads and address legal issues. It opened 1,548 criminal cases in 2009, conducting criminal investigations for more than 400 law enforcement agencies in 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties. To ensure it is able to provide a thorough and sensitive response to crime, BCI&I hired a full-time victim advocate in 2009. The advocate provides assistance to victims of violent crime and works closely with agents on homicides, sexual assaults, missing children situations and other cases.
Here is a look at some of the Investigations Division’s 2009 cases: The Computer Crimes Unit opened 134 cases during the year. Agencies submitted 356 pieces of evidence for analysis — twice the 2005 total — including computers, cell phones, digital cameras, gaming stations and global positioning systems. Crimes against children and child pornography constituted half of the unit’s caseload, and 70 percent of cases involved violent criminal activity. In one case, a computer design engineer pleaded no contest to the rape of a 5-year-old girl after BCI&I’s computer forensic experts recovered nude images of the victim on the suspect’s computer. The photos were retrieved despite the suspect’s strong computer skills and use of anti-forensic tools to conceal them. He was sentenced to life in prison based on his crimes and his efforts to avoid discovery. The Crime Scene Unit opened 941 cases, assisting local law enforcement with 87 homicides, 68 questionable deaths, 57 robberies, 46 aggravated assaults, 43 rapes and various other crimes. Agents are available around the clock to process felony crime scenes for physical evidence. BCI&I helped investigate a Brecksville crime in which a suspect fatally stabbed one victim and critically injured two others before being stabbed
by one of the victims. BCI&I investigators reconstructed the events, documented the individuals’ movements and sketched, photographed and searched the scene for evidence. The perpetrator was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison on one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Two BCI&I units — Narcotics and Clandestine Drug Lab/Cannabis Suppression — support Ohio’s fight against illicit drugs. Narcotics agents investigated a major Caribbean drug ring responsible for distributing thousands of pounds of marijuana in greater Cleveland. Coordinating with the Ohio Highway Patrol, agents carried out two traffic stops and seized nearly $1.5 million in suspected drug profits. BCI&I is continuing the probe in collaboration with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Agents with the Clandestine Drug Lab/Cannabis Suppression Unit seized 43,796 marijuana plants and shut down more than 300 methamphetamine labs in collaboration with local law enforcement. In one case, the unit targeted a number of suppliers of pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient in methamphetamine — who furnished the drug to several Northwest Ohio meth labs, arresting 23 people and seizing 11 labs.
JOINING FORCES TO FIGHT CRIME
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING Here’s a look at some key stats from a 2009 survey of county prosecutors, sheriffs and police about Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation services:
The Special Investigations Unit works on federal corruption and violent crime task forces. It opened 133 cases in 2009. Agents solved the murder of an 83-year-old woman who was bound, strangled and beaten to death in her Southeast Ohio home. The investigation spanned three counties and two states. The agents coordinated lab services, reviewed intelligence information and followed investigative leads that resulted in the arrest of the two men responsible. Both are now serving lengthy prison terms. The Criminal Intelligence Unit — which collects, analyzes and disseminates intelligence to law enforcement — used one of its most powerful tools to help officials in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties solve 148 burglaries. Having determined the incidents were related, agents used the dates, times and locations of the burglaries — and BCI&I’s predictive geographic profiling analysis tool — to determine the location of future burglaries. Authorities arrested 28 suspects by year’s end. The unit expanded Ohio law enforcement’s ability to battle gang activity and saved the state more than $300,000 in updating and training costs by converting from a state-specific gang database to a free national database. The resource contains national and international intelligence on gangs.
USING SCIENCE TO SOLVE CRIME BCI&I’s three laboratories — in London, Richfield and Bowling Green — are accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, which ensures the highest standards of quality. In addition, the DNA and Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) units are externally audited every two years for compliance with the FBI’s DNA Quality Assurance Standards. BCI&I labs’ forensic scientists and polygraph examiners worked 30,681 assignments for Ohio’s law enforcement community and examined more than 109,000 items of evidence. The division’s experts work in nine sections: Chemistry, Forensic Biology, DNA, CODIS, Firearms and Toolmarks, Latent Prints, Polygraph, Questioned Documents and Trace Evidence. The division maintains the fifth-largest convicted offender database within the FBI’s National DNA Index System. Only California, Texas, Florida and Illinois have larger state databases. The system contains the DNA profiles of more than 350,000 convicted offenders and averages about 100 matches a month, giving law enforcement the scientific information to assist in solving crimes. When convicted felon Marvin Lee Smith pleaded guilty in February 2009 to the nearly two-decade-old murder of Ohio teenager Jessica Lyn Keen, BCI&I staff and CODIS were to thank. Keen was abducted from a Columbus bus stop. Her body was discovered beaten in a Madison County graveyard two days later. At the time, authorities
couldn’t find the killer, and DNA technology was new to forensics. But while incarcerated for unrelated crimes, Smith was required to provide a DNA sample. With additional DNA testing in 2008, BCI&I forensic scientists were able to tie Smith to the murder. He was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. By introducing robotics, outsourcing DNA work and separating Forensic Biology and DNA into distinct units in 2009, BCI&I reduced the number of cases awaiting DNA and forensic biology analysis by 45 percent and 68 percent, respectively. The robotic equipment, purchased with federal grant dollars, is used to analyze single-source forensic samples. It reduces the time it takes to process a batch of samples from several days to just hours. Steps also were taken to expand the CODIS lab, which will allow convicted offender DNA testing to occur in-house, at a savings of about $500,000 annually. The expansion, completed in early 2010, also will speed the addition of DNA profiles to the database.
1,001 % 95.9 % 60.9 % 76.4 % 71.9 % 64.5 % 90.8 2011
law enforcement personnel completed the survey.
were satisfied or very satisfied with BCI&I’s communications regarding cases.
said the Crime Scene Unit is the Investgation Division’s most important service. said 30 to 45 days is an acceptable turnaround time for lab results. (In 2009, five BCI&I lab units — CODIS, Firearms/Toolmarks, Latent Prints, Polygraph and Questioned Documents — consistently met the benchmark of 45 days or less.) had never used the fingerprint background check function on the Ohio Attorney General’s Web site. Of those who had, 78.2 percent said it contained comprehensive information. had used the BCI&I Laboratory Division’s chemistry services.
had used the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) search engine in the past year.
is when BCI&I plans to repeat the survey.
Source: Survey report compiled by Wright State University’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs.
JOINING FORCES TO FIGHT CRIME
OVERSEEING PEACE OFFICER TRAINING The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission oversees the training and certification of Ohio peace officers as well as that of private security and corrections employees, jailers, bailiffs, law enforcement canine units, humane agents and public defender investigators.
The commission oversaw 561 basic training school openings, administered 2,456 final examinations and issued 7,104 basic training certificates in 2009. It also approved 765 canine unit certifications, processed 844 firearms requalifications and maintained compliance for about 6,000 academy instructors across the state. One of the commission’s primary tasks is overseeing the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA), which offers coursework in firearms, crime scene forensics, vehicle operations, legal issues and emerging crime and law enforcement trends. OPOTA and its 16 law enforcement training officers taught 505 courses for 7,845 students at campuses in London and Richfield. In all, students participated in 23,545 training days. The academy also offers Webbased training through eOPOTA, giving local law enforcement agencies a cost-saving alternative to traditional instruction. More than 6,100 peace officers took one or more of the 34 courses available during the year, completing 17,373 course sessions. In another effort to bring instruction closer to home, the Attorney General’s Office and Ohio Department of Public Safety developed regional training sessions to update officers on changes in search and seizure, right to counsel and driving under the influence law. Groundwork was laid for additional regional trainings on drug and gang issues in 2010.
LEVERAGING RESOURCES The Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission — through the regional task forces it authorizes — enables local, state and federal agencies to work across multiple jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute organized crime rings. The commission was overseeing 16 task forces at the close of 2009.
An investigation into contraband shipped through major package delivery services led to the arrest of 42 people on felony narcotics violations in central Ohio. Officials seized more than 350 weapons, including 62 assault weapons; almost $530,000 in cash; 2,544 pounds of marijuana; 6,630 grams of cocaine; 4,348 grams of heroin; 1,392 unit doses of Oxycontin; and 172 pounds of khat, a plant chewed for its stimulant effects. Meanwhile, the commission’s Forensic Audio/Video Laboratory is putting a private technology firm’s developmental facial recognition program to the test in actual investigations. The system contains the mug shots of more than 136,000 former Ohio inmates and 2.1 million drivers’ license photos. When photos of unknown crime suspects, some extracted from surveillance video, are entered as part of an investigation, the system uses facial recognition software to generate possible matches.
PARTNERING ON DIFFICULT ISSUES Many issues confronting law enforcement are best tackled in coordination with others at the local, state, federal and international levels. Human trafficking and drug education resources are good examples.
GAINING GROUND ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING Human trafficking is a growing and complex problem in Ohio and across the nation. Attorney General Cordray has made progress on three fronts: The Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force — made up of federal, state and local law enforcement, including a BCI&I Special Investigations agent — broke a major human trafficking ring, recovering seven Ohio children under the age of 13 and 21 adults. Nationally, the sting crossed 36 cities and resulted in the identification and recovery of 52 children and the arrest of 691 adults for prostitution. The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy launched a training initiative on human trafficking for Ohio law enforcement, and nearly 200 officers took advantage of the initial offering. More courses are planned. Attorney General Cordray created Ohio’s Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, which includes representatives from law enforcement, social service agencies, victims, prosecutors, judges, elected officials and the faith community. The commission is studying the scope of human trafficking in the state in order to recommend ways to identify and prosecute cases, assist survivors and prevent at-risk individuals from becoming victims. COORDINATING RESOURCES FOR DRUG EDUCATION The Attorney General’s Office awarded more than $5.4 million in grants to fund law enforcement officers who teach the state’s youth ways to resist drugs. These grants had been offered by the Attorney General’s Office since 1995, but were limited to officers who taught the formal D.A.R.E. curriculum. The Attorney General broadened grant eligibility, enabling all officers who do drug prevention work in Ohio’s public schools to apply. The change allowed the money to reach areas where officer presence in schools had been — or was about to be — cut. The funds allowed the Toledo and Mansfield police departments to call back officers and helped the Hamilton Police Department avoid layoffs.
“I would like to commend OPOTA, Attorney General Cordray and the Department of Public Safety for putting these classes on. Officers are more likely to fail in their mission when they lack the knowledge of law changes, search and seizure, and use of force.”
— Worthington Police Chief Michael E. Mauger concerning a training program offered throughout the state to update peace officers on changes in criminal procedure
JOINING FORCES TO FIGHT CRIME
PROVIDING AID TO CRIME VICTIMS, COMMUNITIES The Attorney General’s Crime Victims Assistance and Prevention Section provides help for crime victims, training for professionals who work with them and crime prevention programs for Ohio communities.
HELPING VICTIMS WITH EXPENSES Ohio’s Crime Victims Reparations Fund reimburses victims of violent crime and eligible family members for medical and counseling expenses, lost wages and certain other costs. The fund provided compensation for 4,816 claims, paying out nearly $11.8 million. The average award totaled $2,448. The fund also reimburses hospitals for forensic exams performed after a suspected sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) program ensures that victims are not charged for medical expenses that accompany this traumatic event and that evidence is collected properly for future prosecution. The reparations fund paid 6,231 SAFE claims totaling more than $3.3 million. SAFEGUARDING FINANCIAL RESOURCES Because of longstanding concerns about the Ohio Crime Victims Reparations Fund’s future solvency, the Attorney General’s Office took steps to cap certain expenses and standardize the amount of money private attorneys are paid for assisting victims. Attorney General Cordray is working with other state attorneys general to press the federal government to lift a restriction on the amount of federal Victims of Crime Act dollars available to the states. The office also has a statutory duty to hold offenders financially accountable for their crimes. Funds collected from offenders or other responsible sources totaled $551,484, up more than 12 percent from the year before, and were added to the Reparations Fund. KEEPING THE PUBLIC INFORMED The Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system provides information about a criminal offender’s custody status and gives updates when a change in status occurs. In 2009, the public visited the VINE Web site 573,672 times, and the operations center handled 242,717 calls. An automated system issued 19,652 e-mails and 13,317 phone notifications to registered VINE users. VINE is provided by the Attorney General’s Office in partnership with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and Ohio Department of Youth Services.
JOINING FORCES AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE The Attorney General’s Office teamed up with the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology to reintroduce Cut It Out, a national domestic violence awareness effort. Through the program, Ohio salon professionals are trained to recognize signs of domestic violence. The program provided continuing education credits to 735 stylists who attended two-hour seminars offered by the Attorney General’s Office. HELPING FAMILIES, SCHOOLS USE THE WEB WISELY The Internet can be a valuable educational tool, but children and teens need to use it wisely. Trainings provided by the Attorney General’s Office address right and wrong ways to use technology and how to respond to intimidation, harassment, cyberbullying and sexting. The office instructed more than 37,000 students in 41 Ohio counties and provided cyber safety training to more than 2,700 parents, educators and law enforcement officers.
SUPPORTING THE IMPORTANT WORK OF PROSECUTORS Attorney General Cordray established a Criminal Justice Section to maximize legal resources available to local law enforcement and prosecutors. The section includes four units: Special Prosecutions, Capital Crimes, Habeas and Corrections. Here’s a look at some cases they handled during the year.
ASSISTING WITH MAJOR CASES The Special Prosecutions Unit provides support with major felony cases, such as homicides, sex offenses involving children, white collar crimes and wrongdoing by public officials. Attorney General Cordray increased the number of assistant attorneys general in the unit from four to six in order to place attorneys in Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati in addition to Columbus. Among the cases the unit prosecuted were six involving public corruption, including the use of public funds to pay campaign expenses, and the sale of guns seized in a criminal investigation for personal profit. State v. Vonda Ferguson: A Springfield woman was sentenced to 65 years in prison for beating, abusing and torturing her five adopted children. The Attorney General’s Office and Union County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case. State v. Dustin Barnette: The defendant received a 20-year prison sentence after being convicted in Hocking and Meigs counties of sexually molesting three girls between the ages of 6 and 14. UPHOLDING DEATH SENTENCES The Capital Crimes Unit works to uphold lawfully imposed death sentences. The unit also can assist county prosecutors by participating in capital litigation in state courts and responding to clemency requests prior to execution. Attorneys in this unit were responsible for 141 aggravated murder cases with death sentences in various stages of federal review or the state clemency process. The office successfully defended several challenges to the constitutionality of Ohio’s lethal injection procedure and worked with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to establish the nation’s first one-drug lethal injection protocol.
TRAINING WITH THE BEST General Counsel for Law Enforcement Operations Matt Kanai was one of only six recipients of an exclusive U.S. Supreme Court fellowship with the National Association of Attorneys General. He attended U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments and participated in moot court. Complementing that opportunity for his own professional growth was one he created for prosecutors across Ohio when he landed a $100,000 grant from the federal Capital Case Litigation Initiative. The funds will provide capital litigation training for county prosecutors in 2010 and 2011.
JOINING FORCES TO FIGHT CRIME
ENSURING CONVICTIONS UPHELD The Habeas Unit represents the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in federal and state habeas corpus litigation brought by inmates who claim their convictions or prison sentences are unconstitutional. The unit defended 448 new habeas petitions and was successful in having the original convictions and sentences upheld in 98 percent of the cases. Condon v. Wolfe: A photographer, Thomas Condon illegally gained access to the Hamilton County morgue and photographed several bodies that he posed in bizarre positions with various props. He sought to overturn his conviction on several counts of abuse of a corpse, claiming — among other things — that his actions constituted protected expression under the First Amendment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit affirmed Wolfe’s conviction. Stein v. Eberlin: Matthew Stein is serving an eight-year prison sentence following his conviction in Richland County for felonious assault involving his 5-month-old son, Aiden, now in a permanent vegetative state. The unit successfully upheld Stein’s sentence and conviction in federal court. The case went to the Ohio Supreme Court on a custody issue when the child’s appointed guardian wanted to remove him from artificial life support. The court ruled the guardian did not have the authority to make that choice. DEFENDING AGAINST INMATES’ CLAIMS The Corrections Unit represents the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) and the Department of Youth Services (DYS) in civil suits brought by inmates. The unit defended 285 suits in state or federal courts and were successful in obtaining dismissals in more than 90 percent of the suits. The unit provided counsel in remediation phases in five class-action suits involving the DRC and DYS. Miller v. Wilkinson: Since 1998, the office has defended the state in a class-action suit brought by inmates who practice the Asatru religion, the Scandinavian religious practice of worshipping Norse gods. A settlement was reached that, if approved by the court, will maintain prison security, provide a means for inmates to practice their religion and bring an end to expensive litigation. Ortiz v. Voinovich: The Attorney General’s Office successfully appealed a $625,000 jury verdict rendered in favor of a prison inmate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overturned the jury verdict, which had held prison employees responsible for injuries claimed by an inmate.
ANTHONY PARR CONDUCTS A TEST IN THE BUREAU OF CRIMINAL IDENTIFICATION AND INVESTIGATION’S FORENSIC BIOLOGY UNIT.
The Attorney General’s Office represents the interests of Ohio in court — the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ohio Supreme Court or other courts throughout the state. In recent cases, the office’s attorneys defended the constitutionality of Ohio’s sex offender registration laws, preserved an important tool in the fight against drunken driving, saved the state’s schools millions of dollars and helped protect Ohioans’ civil rights.
Advocating for Ohio
WITH PROFESSIONALISM AND INTEGRITY
ADVOCATING FOR OHIO
SUCCESS IN COURT The Attorney General’s Appeals Section represents Ohio in significant cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and Ohio Supreme Court, which hear only a small number of cases each year. A party must first petition the court to accept a case for review and, if successful, convince the court to rule in its favor.
U.S. Supreme Court acceptance rate* Average: 4% State of Ohio: 67% Ohio Supreme Court acceptance rate* Average: 10% State of Ohio: 71% Appeals Section wins in 2009 U.S. Supreme Court: 100% (2 of 2 cases) Ohio Supreme Court: 75% (12 of 16 cases)
*Figures exclude cases filed by indigent litigants.
DEFENDING OHIO’S CAPITAL PUNISHMENT LAW The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed a lower federal appeals court in two capital cases and reinstated death sentences as requested by the Attorney General’s Office in Bobby v. Bies and Bobby v. Van Hook. In addition, in Garner v. Mitchell, the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit unanimously reversed a decision to throw out a capital defendant’s murder conviction after a lower court found he was not competent to understand his Miranda rights. The office successfully argued that police had done nothing wrong in advising the defendant and had no reason to question his level of understanding. PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM HARMFUL MATERIALS ONLINE In Cordray v. American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the Attorney General’s Office that the state’s new law prohibiting online dissemination of materials harmful to juveniles encompasses instant messaging, personal e-mails and private chat rooms. ASSISTING LOCAL PROSECUTORS The Attorney General’s Office appeared in about two dozen cases in the Ohio Supreme Court to support county prosecutors on a range of criminal matters and to defend the constitutionality of Ohio’s sex offender registration laws (the Adam Walsh Act).
PRESERVING OHIO’S DRUNKEN DRIVING LAWS Partnering with the city of Marysville in State v. Hoover, the Attorney General’s Office defended a state law that increases the sentence for someone with a prior DUI conviction who refuses a chemical test. The Ohio Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that the law was unconstitutional, preserving an important tool in the fight against drunken driving. SUPPORTING SCHOOLS When a Cleveland-area school, Greater Heights Academy, failed to pay for busing services, Community Bus Services Inc. tried to garnish the school’s aid payments from the state. In Community Bus v. Greater Heights Academy, the Cleveland Municipal Court and the 8th District Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with the Attorney General’s position that sovereign immunity does not permit a private company to garnish state aid payments. ENSURING CITY WORKERS’ RESIDENCY RIGHTS The office successfully defended a state law that gives city workers — including police, firefighters and others — the right to live where they want and still keep their jobs. After the Lima v. State and Akron v. State decisions, the state law now trumps the residency rules that many cities had enforced for years.
SAFEGUARDING LAKE ERIE RIGHTS FOR ALL OHIOANS In 2005, the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma sued the state for unrestricted commercial fishing rights in Lake Erie, claiming that they owned the rights. In Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Logan, the Attorney General’s Office argued that the tribe’s claims had no legal merit, a position upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. DEFENDING PUBLIC SAFETY A gas service line warranty provider challenged an agreement giving Columbia Gas of Ohio exclusive responsibility for repairing and replacing customer service lines. In Utility Service Partners v. Public Utilities Commission, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the Attorney General’s argument that utility lines can pose safety hazards and that the owner, Columbia Gas in this case, should be responsible for them.
REPRESENTING OHIO IN COURT Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, a former U.S. Supreme Court Clerk and Ohio Solicitor General, has appeared in state and federal courts many times during his career, including seven appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2009, he personally argued and won two cases — one in the U.S. Supreme Court and another in the Ohio Supreme Court.
Ohio Grocers Association v. Levin: Attorney General Cordray argued for an even-handed application of the commercial activity tax. The Ohio Grocers Association sought an exemption from the tax, claiming it violated the ban on taxing food sales. But the court ruled that taxing a grocer’s gross receipts as a business is not the same as taxing its sales. The decision preserved $190 million in annual revenue for Ohio and represents a critical ruling for local government funding.
Warden v. Spisak: The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided to reinstate the death sentence of Frank Spisak Jr. for his 1982 hate-inspired shooting spree on the Cleveland State University campus. The decision reversed a lower court decision vacating the death penalty. Attorney General Cordray argued the case in October, and the court ruled in January 2010.
ADVOCATING FOR OHIO
SUPPORTING PIVOTAL CASES The Attorney General’s Office signaled its support for the legal positions of others by filing amicus briefs on the following issues: Second Amendment: In NRA v. City of Chicago, Ohio joined other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is applicable to the states. Campaign finance reform: In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Attorney General supported the FEC’s efforts to uphold restrictions on corporate campaign advertising and to prevent the court from overruling decades of campaign finance laws. Effective guardianship: In Guardianship of John Spangler, the Attorney General urged the Ohio Supreme Court to give county agencies authority to remove a guardian when he or she is not acting in the best interest of a child. PROTECTING CIVIL RIGHTS As legal counsel to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Section members serve as civil prosecutors, investigators and advisers on all issues related to federal Equal Employment Opportunity and Housing and Urban Development laws. The section secured more than $770,000 for complainants, up more than $250,000 from the previous two years. In Ohio Civil Rights Commission v. Arthur Burton, the section won a $250,000 jury verdict for a tenant whose landlord sexually harassed her. The case involved a Kettering landlord who harassed a 20-year-old tenant, procrastinated in repairing her front door lock, repeatedly made sexually threatening remarks and offered to pay her for sex. After several days of escalating harassment, the tenant — fearing for her safety — went to the police and then to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission before being forced to move out. In addition to paying damages and court costs, the landlord is required to include fair housing language in all rental applications and leases, prominently post notices of Ohio and Federal Fair Housing Law and take Fair Housing training. Section attorneys also led fair housing, equal employment opportunity and civil rights education for many groups throughout the state. A training milestone was reached with the Ohio Department of Public Safety when each of the Ohio Highway Patrol’s 2,440 employees — 1,527 sworn officers and 913 other staffers — completed employee discrimination training.
ENFORCING TOBACCO LAWS, PROTECTING FUNDS In 1998, Ohio and 45 other states and U.S. territories entered into a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco manufacturers. Ohio, the fourth-largest recipient of funding, received $367 million in 2009. The Tobacco Enforcement Section has to date successfully defended the state’s 2008 decision to securitize the MSA revenue stream in a $5 billion bond package, most recently in the 10th District Court of Appeals in Board of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation v. Boyce. The state gained a number of legal and administrative responsibilities through the MSA. The Tobacco Section handles these duties, including certification of all tobacco product manufacturer cigarette brands. A directory of brands permitted to be sold in Ohio is posted at www. OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/ TobaccoSearch. In 2009, 34 brands were removed from the directory, six as a result of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that President Obama signed in June. Tobacco Section attorneys also enforce the public health or business and marketing restrictions of the MSA, which include bans on certain advertising and brandname merchandise. Nat Sherman, a company based in New York City, was marketing items such as caps and T-shirts through its catalog and Web site. After the Attorney General’s Office filed a 30-day notice of intent to file suit,
the company agreed to stop its marketing practices. In 2006, Ohio voters approved a ban on smoking in most public places and employment sites. As attorneys for the Ohio Department of Health, the Tobacco Section appears before state courts and administrative agencies to seek preliminary injunctions against businesses violating the law and to defend against their lawsuits. In 2009, that included 38 administrative hearings, 28 cases in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and six cases in the 10th District Court of Appeals.
FAIR HOUSING CASE EARNS ACCOLADES Two assistant attorneys general were part of a legal team whose work on one of the most significant fair housing cases in history put them in contention for a national trial lawyer award. The team, which included Stefan Schmidt and Marilyn Tobocman of the Civil Rights Section, secured a jury award of $10.8 million for the predominantly AfricanAmerican residents of Coal Run, southeast of Zanesville. They proved that authorities violated residents’ civil rights by denying them water service for 50 years. Coal Run residents had been forced to drink and bathe in groundwater contaminated by coal mining and use rainwater caught in cisterns laden with bugs, worms, rodents and dead animals, while residents of surrounding communities enjoyed city water service. In Kennedy v. City of Zanesville, a federal court found the City of Zanesville, Muskingum County and East Muskingum Water Authority liable for refusing to extend water lines to Coal Run residents’ homes. The legal team, which included private- and public-sector attorneys, was one of three finalists for the Trial Lawyer of the Year award given by the Public Justice Foundation, a public-interest organization that recognizes socially significant litigation.
ADVOCATING FOR OHIO
PROTECTING THE BOTTOM LINE The Attorney General’s Office provides advice and counsel to all state government entities. When matters are disputed, whether in court or some other legal forum, the office serves as the exclusive representative for the state. Saving schools millions: The Education Section’s successful work in court saved the state’s education system more than $5.8 million. Included in that sum was a $2.6 million jury verdict in State ex rel. Ohio Department of Education v. Ministerial Day Care Association to recover Head Start funds misappropriated by a day care service provider. The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granted a summary judgment in Walker v. The Ohio State University, rejecting forfeiture claims totaling $4.7 million. And in Cincinnati City School District Board of Education v. State Board of Education, an Ohio Supreme Court decision reversed a fee award that would have cost the state’s schools more than $490,000. Preserving state revenue: The Ohio Board of Tax Appeals decided that interstate pipeline companies doing business in the state since 2001 should be exempt from personal property tax — a ruling that, if allowed to stand, would have cost school districts and local governments more than $300 million. The Attorney General’s Office appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court and won in Columbia Gas Transmission v. Levin. The Ohio Tax Commissioner denied a personal property tax refund of $300,000 to HealthSouth, a national health-care services company, based on its acknowledgement that it had overstated the value of its property in order to cover up an intentional overcapitalization of assets on its financial statement. HealthSouth appealed the decision to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, which granted the refund. The Attorney General appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that the board had not provided an adequate legal review of the claim, and the court agreed. Helping utility customers: In Illinois Commerce Commission v. Federal Regulatory Commission, Ohio energy consumers were spared at least $295 million in utility rate increases. The hikes would have paid for projects in other states that would not have benefited Ohioans.
SOLICITOR GENERAL BEN MIZER AND DEPUTY SOLICITOR EMILY SCHLESINGER RESEARCH A CASE.
OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE STAFF
ADMINISTRATION Richard Cordray, Attorney General Chris Glaros, First Assistant Attorney General Sherry Maxfield, Chief Counsel John Lenhart, Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement Sue Hamilton, Chief Operating Officer of Administration Helen Ninos, Chief Operating Officer of Human Resources Albert Lin, General Counsel Sarah Lynn, Deputy Chief Counsel Susan Ashbrook, Deputy Chief Counsel Luke Blocher, Executive Assistant Attorney General, Planning and Analysis Leesa Brown, Executive Director of Policy and Public Affairs Zoe Berry, Chief Financial Officer Robin Hurst, Director of Legislative Relations
SECTIONS AND OFFICES Antitrust Jennifer L. Pratt, Section Chief Appeals Ben Mizer, Solicitor General Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Peter Tobin, Superintendent Business Counsel Amy Minardo, Section Chief Charitable Law Pete Thomas, Section Chief Civil Rights Lori A. Anthony, Section Chief Collections Enforcement Marcia Macon-Bruce, Section Chief Constitutional Offices Kent Shimeall, Section Chief Consumer Protection Susan Choe, Section Chief Court of Claims Defense Paula Paoletti, Section Chief Crime Victims Assistance and Prevention Jennifer Day, Section Chief Criminal Justice Jim Slagle, Section Chief Education Rebecca Albers, Section Chief Employment Law Michael McPhillips, Section Chief Environmental Enforcement Dale T. Vitale, Section Chief Executive Agencies John Williams, Section Chief Health Care Fraud John Guthrie, Section Chief Health and Human Services Jonathan Fulkerson, Section Chief Information Technology Michael Sawczyn, Chief Information Officer Ken Clubok, Chief Technology Officer Labor Relations Dan Belville, Section Chief Legal Service Russ Balthis, Section Chief Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission Ronald Ferrell, Executive Director Opinions Section Kevin McIver, Section Chief Organized Crime Investigations Commission Jeff Rossi, Executive Director Public Utilities Duane W. Luckey, Section Chief Revenue Recovery Darla Reardon, Section Chief Taxation Larry Pratt, Section Chief Tobacco Enforcement Susan Walker, Section Chief Transportation Rick Makowski, Section Chief Workers’ Compensation Patsy Thomas, Section Chief
REGIONAL OFFICES Cincinnati Office Chris Wagner, Managing Attorney 441 Vine St. 1600 Carew Tower Cincinnati, OH 45202 Cleveland Office Mark Mastrangelo, Managing Attorney 615 W. Superior Ave., 11th Floor Cleveland, OH 44113-1899 Toledo Office Rick Baum, Managing Attorney One Government Center Suite 1340 Toledo, OH 43604 Youngstown Office Cynthia Kravitz, Managing Attorney 20 W. Federal St., 3rd Floor Youngstown, OH 44503
Ohio Attorney General
30 E. Broad St., Floor 17 Columbus, OH 43215 (800) 282-0515 www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
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