Ohio Attorney General
Richard Cordray AnnuAl RepoRt
From the Desk of Attorney General Cordray Fighting for Ohioans Holding Wall street accountable standing up for consumers top small business complaint categories fighting foreclosure protecting the environment bolstering ohio’s economy prosecuting health care fraud looking out for veterans Joining forces to fight crime strengthening law enforcement capabilities partnering on difficult issues taking on organized crime Assisting crime victims and communities supporting the important work of prosecutors overseeing peace officer training Advocating for Ohio Representing ohio in court success in court protecting lake erie’s native fish population upholding minimum wage requirements supporting pivotal cases Attorney General’s staff 1 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 16 17 21 22 23 25 27 30 31 31 32 32 34 35
oHio AttoRney geneRAl
Dear Fellow Ohioans,
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has been around since before the Civil War. Its original duties included advising county prosecutors, compiling crime statistics, collecting debts owed to the state and performing other tasks, many of which we still do today.
These duties were considered so modest at the time that former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Carrington T. Marshall remarked that the low salary paid to the first Attorney General, Henry Stanbery, was justified because “it is probable that the duties required took but little of his time.” It is fair to say that this characterization of the office’s duties — specifically the part about them taking little time — is not applicable today. Since its humble origins, the office has grown vastly in size and scope. We now have more than 1,500 employees and close to 40 distinct departments, all dealing with varied challenges and circumstances. The work of the office’s professionals and their sizable areas of focus touch all corners of state government and, by extension, the lives of the taxpayers who support and rely on it. Through this work, and through the impressive resources and responsibilities entrusted to us, we have sought simply to do good by and for the people of this state. The office has changed a lot since the days of Henry Stanbery. And in my time in office, we have continued to improve its services and performance. This report details our efforts in 2010 and describes the work we do on behalf of not only our state client agencies but also the local law enforcement agencies that protect our communities and the everyday Ohioans — taxpayers, consumers, victims of crime, veterans and others — whom we strive to serve faithfully and with distinction.
fRom tHe desk of tHe
Richard Cordray Ohio Attorney General
fRom WAll stReet to mAin stReet
The Attorney General’s Office made historic gains on behalf of Ohio’s citizens and businesses in 2010. As rampant foreclosures made headlines across the country, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office led the way nationally in uncovering widespread abuse in banks’ handling of foreclosure actions. The office won large settlements from Wall Street firms that harmed Ohio pensioners and others. And Attorney General Cordray maintained and improved on the office’s long-standing role of standing up for Ohioans by enforcing state laws that protect consumers and taxpayers and ensuring a fair marketplace and level playing field for business.
Fighting for Ohioans
HOlDinG WAll Street ACCOuntAble the Attorney general’s office confronted corporate wrongdoing on Wall street that hurt ohio pensioners and, by extension, harmed all ohioans by damaging the economy. A number of notable settlements brought the total amount recovered from major Wall street firms during Attorney general Cordray’s two years in office to more than $2.7 billion and sent a message that ohio would strongly enforce securities and antitrust laws.
WInnInG A ReCORd SeTTleMenT fROM AIG In July, the office reached a $725 million securities class action settlement against international insurance and financial services organization American International Group Inc. (AIG) and certain individual directors and officers. The settlement resolved allegations that AIG engaged in wide-ranging fraud — including anti-competitive market division, accounting violations and stock price manipulation — from 1999 to 2005. Agreements with other defendants in the case pushed the total value of the AIG settlement to more than $900 million, making it the 10th-largest securities class action settlement in U.S. history. enSURInG A COMpeTITIve MARkeTplACe In April, Attorney General Cordray reached an unrelated settlement in which AIG agreed to pay $9 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it violated the state’s antitrust laws. public entities throughout the state — including universities, schools and cities — received reimbursements as part of the settlement. AIG is alleged to have conspired with insurance broker Marsh & Mclennan and other insurers to eliminate competition in the commercial casualty insurance industry. In September, Cordray reached a $4.75 million settlement with Marsh & Mclennan in the same case. SeekInG ReCOveRy fROM Bp Ohio pension funds, represented by Attorney General Cordray, and the state of new york teamed up to seek lead plaintiff status on behalf of investors in a securities class action against Bp plC, some of its officers and directors, and Bp America Inc. The action stems from losses the pension funds incurred after the deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April and subsequent environmental crisis, which caused Bp’s stock value to drop 40 percent. The lawsuit alleges that Bp duped investors with false and misleading statements about the safety of its drilling operations and its ability to prevent and address events such as the oil spill.
MAJOR SeCURITIeS ACTIOn MOveS fORWARd The U.S. district Court for the Southern district of new york in late August issued an important ruling that allowed a major lawsuit to proceed against Bank of America, Merrill lynch and various individual officers and directors when it substantially denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss the case. The ruling cleared the way for Ohio’s pension funds and allied pension systems to move forward with claims that the defendants committed securities fraud and issued false proxy statements. If successful, the lawsuit could recover billions of dollars for shareholders. The lawsuit alleges that Bank of America, during merger negotiations, allowed Merrill lynch to pay up to $5.8 billion in accelerated year-end bonuses to its executives and employees but failed to disclose that information to shareholders before they voted to approve the merger. Additionally, in the two months before shareholders voted on the merger, Merrill lynch suffered billions of dollars in losses. The complaint alleges that senior executives at both Merrill lynch and Bank of America knew of these massive losses but did not disclose the information to investors prior to shareholders’ vote on the merger.
StAnDinG uP FOr COnSuMerS of all of the ways that the Attorney general’s office interacts with ohioans, the work that affects the most people directly is done through the Consumer protection section. tens of thousands of ohioans file complaints each year with the section, which in turn helps them recover money or resolve an issue when they have been cheated or treated unfairly. Attorney general Cordray’s administration extended consumer protection services to help small businesses and nonprofits. these services were introduced under a pilot project in mid-2009 and became available statewide in february 2010 — with impressive results.
COMInG TO THe AId Of OHIO COnSUMeRS Many actions taken by the Ohio Attorney General’s office led to restitution and other assistance for large groups of consumers in the state. These included: Reaching a settlement with Solon-based national enterprise Systems Inc. (neS) in April that secured $207,500 in consumer restitution and a comparable amount in payment to the state’s Consumer protection enforcement fund. In mid-2009, Attorney General Cordray sued the collection agency over allegations that neS harassed consumers when attempting to collect on debt. As a result of the agreed consent judgment, neS made changes in its debt collection practices and compensated consumers and the enforcement fund. Securing services for Toyota and lexus owners following product safety recalls. After Attorney General Cordray and other state attorneys general intervened, Toyota agreed to provide transportation to and from dealerships and compensate customers for transportation and rental car costs while their vehicles were being repaired. negotiating a settlement with prepaid wireless provider Start Wireless Group Inc., doing business as page plus Inc., to resolve concerns that the company misrepresented its services and failed to disclose important terms and conditions. Start Wireless cooperated with the Attorney General throughout the investigation, made changes to its business model and paid $200 to more than 140 consumers.
Fighting for Ohioans
Top small business complaints filed with the office:
HelpInG SMAll BUSIneSSeS AvOId MISTReATMenT After making the innovative decision to use the office’s consumer protection complaint resolution process to assist small businesses and nonprofits in addition to individual consumers, the Attorney General’s Office helped such enterprises save or recover more than $250,000. Some notable success stories: A powell vending distributor ordered a machine that failed to work and, after several promises, the supplier never delivered a replacement. The firm filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and received a $3,000 refund. An art studio and gallery in Grandview received a call requesting an address confirmation and later was charged $499 for a “yellow pages” ad. The studio had no idea that it was, in fact, agreeing to an advertisement. The Attorney General’s Office resolved the issue at no cost to the art studio. A Westerville investment firm sought to recover $77,500 it had paid as an up-front fee for a real estate loan. The firm contacted the office when it did not receive the loan as promised. Within two weeks, the fee was refunded in full, marking the program’s largest recovery so far. A Stow outdoor outfitters shop was battling a paper company for sending, and then billing for, an unauthorized purchase. After returning the product at its own expense, the shop continued to receive past-due notices for $258. The office intervened, and the paper company cleared the shop’s balance. A findlay bulk services company was continuously charged for cable television despite canceling the service. After making numerous failed attempts to clear up the situation, the company began receiving collection notices. The office stepped in and arranged for the balance to be cleared. A Canfield machinery company paid $14,500 for equipment it never received. When the company attempted to get a refund, the supplier refused. The office was able to secure a full refund. A Cincinnati exterminating company was charged $320 to advertise on the T-shirts of a local basketball team. While the company’s credit card was charged, the advertisement was never completed. With the Attorney General’s assistance, the company was refunded in full.
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phony “yellow pages” advertisements Unauthorized charges on telephone bills Bogus Internet and website services Credit card payment processor fees
Unauthorized credit card charges failure to receive a service or product
SpReAdInG THe WORd ABOUT SCAMS The Ohio Attorney General’s scam alert widgets, which are frequently updated online tools that can be posted on other websites, were viewed more than 1.3 million times. The widgets, introduced at the state’s first Consumer protection Summit in March, highlight scams reported by Ohio consumers, link to a scam reporting page and provide a “share the scam” link. The office also introduced a Spanish-language Web page, www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/ Ayuda, to help Spanish-speaking consumers gain information and file consumer complaints.
pUSHInG fOR RefORM, pReSeRvInG STATe AUTHORITy In the wake of the Wall Street collapse in 2008, Congress debated major reforms to decrease the likelihood of another crash and protect consumers from unfair and deceptive financial products. during that debate, Attorney General Cordray publicly advocated for reforms and defended the authority of state attorneys general. In an April letter to Senate committee chairs Christopher dodd and Blanche lincoln, the Attorney General wrote: “The only cops on the beat in the financial area over the last decade were state attorneys general. State consumer protection, anti-trust and securities laws are critical tools for balancing the interests of individual citizens and powerful institutions in the marketplace. As revelations continue to unfold about the conduct of the Wall Street rating agencies and various brokers, bankers and dealers, it is clear that neither personal nor professional integrity are enough to keep a check on greed and exploitation.” Congress passed a financial reform bill in July that toughened laws governing banks and created a federal Consumer financial protection Bureau. The bill also ensures that state attorneys general will not be pre-empted by federal authorities.
eARnInG ReCOGnITIOn fOR leAdeRSHIp prominent nonprofits recognized Attorney General Cordray for his work to protect Ohioans: In March, he received the 2010 Henry B. Gonzalez Award from the national Community Reinvestment Coalition. The award is presented each year to a government official who forges the most effective partnerships with community nonprofits and provides leadership in community economic development and economic justice. Attorney General Cordray was nominated by empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s people (eSOp), a community organization specializing in housing counseling and foreclosure prevention. In the nomination, executive director Mark Seifert wrote, “Mr. Cordray is the epitome of a state official fulfilling his mandate to protect Ohio residents. from January through december we saw Mr. Cordray’s unswerving dedication to achieving economic justice for the people of Ohio.” The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan recognized Attorney General Cordray for his dedication to consumer protection throughout Ohio. The Award of Appreciation, specially created to recognize the Attorney General, was presented at the BBB’s ninth annual Torch Awards for Marketplace ethics ceremony in May. Stephen Cox, president and CeO of the national Council of Better Business Bureaus in Washington, d.C., traveled to Toledo to present the award. “The Attorney General is dedicated to creating an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other,” Cox said. “That’s the BBB’s mission and something we’ve seen from Attorney General Cordray in theory and practice. It’s also something that’s not seen in every attorney general around the country.”
Fighting for Ohioans
FiGHtinG FOreClOSure With ohio foreclosures running ahead of 2009’s record-setting pace, Attorney general Cordray took his leadership on the state and national foreclosure problem to a new level by spearheading what became a 50-state investigation of fraudulent practices that abused the rights of homeowners and the courts.
expOSInG ‘ROBO-SIGnInG’ One of the most alarming revelations of 2010 concerned the fact that an untold number of foreclosure documents processed by major mortgage-servicing banks were “robo-signed.” That is, affidavits were signed en masse, and those signing them attested to having personal knowledge about matters that they, in fact, knew little or nothing about. Attorney General Cordray asked judges across the state in late September to pay extra attention to foreclosures involving GMAC Mortgage Inc., which had acknowledged a “potential issue” with its internal foreclosure procedures. In early October, he became the first attorney general in the nation to take legal action over “robo-signing” by filing suit in lucas County Common pleas Court against GMAC Mortgage, its parent, Ally financial Inc., and employee Jeffrey Stephan. The lawsuit accused the loan servicer and its agents of filing fraudulent affidavits in hundreds of Ohio foreclosures. Stephan, of Sellersville, pa., testified in a Maine foreclosure case that he signed thousands of affidavits between 2006 and 2010 without verifying the content. When similar reports surfaced regarding JpMorgan Chase and Bank of America, Attorney General Cordray asked them to suspend judgments, sales, evictions and property transfers involving any foreclosure case in which defective affidavits had been submitted. The Attorney General also sent letters to Wells fargo and Citibank requesting that the banks meet with his office to discuss their foreclosure affidavit procedures. The following week, he and attorneys general from the other 49 states announced a multistate investigation into robo-signing. Attorney General Cordray, 11 other state attorneys general and three state banking regulators made up the group’s executive committee. In late October, Attorney General Cordray — citing false statements and documented fraud — weighed in on a GMAC foreclosure case that threatened to oust a parma man and his family from their home. The Attorney General filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Cuyahoga County Common pleas Court foreclosure proceeding and asked the court to consider evidence that GMAC committed fraud that tainted the entire judicial process. Although it is unusual for the Attorney General’s Office to get involved in an individual foreclosure case, the potential use of fraudulent documents in this case prompted the filing of the brief. CRACkInG dOWn On MORTGAGe fRAUd Attorney General Cordray and Summit County prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh in March announced indictments against 16 individuals on charges related to more than $1 million in alleged mortgage fraud involving 40 properties. The charges resulted from a two-year investigation by the Summit County Mortgage fraud Task force, which operates in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC). The scheme involved artificially inflating home values and falsifying mortgage applications, including promising to make repairs that were never done and skimming money off mortgage proceeds at closing. Also in March, Attorney General Cordray, OOCIC and franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced a 71-count indictment against kevin e. Murphy and Columbus-based real estate agent
Mary R. Murphy for their roles in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme. The charges are related to 26 property transfers executed between 2004 and 2007 with a total loan value of approximately $11 million. In another franklin County case in which OOCIC assisted, John Wanek of phoenix, Ariz., was sentenced in September to nine years in prison for using false statements and forged documents to illegally obtain more than $38 million in loans to purchase six Columbusarea apartment complexes and then defaulting on the loans. COURT AffIRMS fIRST-Of-ITS-kInd ACTIOn In September, Attorney General Cordray won a victory that validated his strategy, undertaken in 2009, to take legal action against mortgage servicers Carrington Mortgage Services llC, American Home Mortgage Services Inc. and Barclays Capital Real estate, doing business as Homeq Servicing, for violations of Ohio’s consumer law. A Montgomery County Common pleas judge affirmed Cordray’s case against Homeeq by overruling the defendant’s motion to dismiss, which cleared the way for the case to move ahead. “This ruling takes us one step closer in our overall strategy to hold loan servicers accountable for unfair loan modifications in foreclosure cases,” Cordray said in response.
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.
BenefITTInG fROM MASSIve envIROnMenTAl BAnkRUpTCy CASe Ohio received $1.6 million as part of a settlement in the largest environmental bankruptcy case in U.S. history. The settlement resolved a claim filed in the bankruptcy reorganization of American Smelting and Refining Co. (ASARCO) regarding the contamination of American ditch near the company’s former facility in Columbus. Under the agreement, ASARCO will pay $1.79 billion to cover environmental cleanup costs incurred by federal and state agencies at more than 80 contaminated sites in 19 states. The settlement represents the largest recovery to pay for past and future cleanup under the Comprehensive environmental Response, Compensation and liability Act of 1980, commonly known as the Superfund. TAkInG ACTIOn AGAInST A nUISAnCe At the request of the Ohio environmental protection Agency, Attorney General Cordray in June filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against Heartland Refinery Group for ongoing air pollution law violations that create an odor nuisance and could harm public health and the environment. The motion asks the court to order Heartland to repair air pollution control equipment required by its air permit. Heartland Refinery Group, located in Columbus, converts used oil into products such as oil and asphalt additives. It began operating in february 2009. SeCURInG lARGeST UndeRGROUnd TAnk SeTTleMenT In OHIO A Texas oil refining company accused of illegally releasing petroleum from 45 underground storage tanks in 26 Ohio counties agreed to pay $4 million in penalties and clean up its former Clark gas station sites. premcor owned and operated Clark gas stations throughout Ohio where petroleum was illegally released and not properly examined for the resulting environmental impact. Many of the sites have been or are in the process of being inspected for further action.
Fighting for Ohioans
bOlSterinG OHiO’S eCOnOMY Attorney general Cordray responded to the state’s economic troubles by working to protect ohio jobs and taking steps to create future employment.
SAfeGUARdInG A MAJOR MAHOnInG vAlley eMplOyeR Attorney General Cordray and the office’s Charitable law Section reviewed the sale of the bankrupt forum Health, a major employer and health care provider in the youngstown area. The office undertook the review to ensure that charitable assets were preserved to the greatest extent possible. Attorney General Cordray approved Community Health System’s $120 million purchase, and — under the terms of the agreement — the firm agreed to put $80 million or more into forum’s three main hospitals. The purchase price was sufficient to protect foundation assets that had been pledged as collateral for loans to pay major creditors. Community Health System also agreed to operate the hospitals as Medicare and Medicaid providers. forum, which has about 4,000 employees, is the secondlargest employer in the Mahoning valley. “We wish to express our sincerest gratitude for the concern you have shown for our registered nurse members and the patients they serve as you reviewed the sale of the assets of the forum Health System,” linda Warino, executive director of Ohio nurses Association district 3, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Cordray. “you went above and beyond the call of your office to understand and respond to health care quality, access and job issues at stake here in the valley.” pROTeCTInG AIRlIne eMplOyeeS, CUSTOMeRS
pROMOTInG pARTneRSHIp And ReSeARCH InnOvATIOn Attorney General Cordray’s office worked with the Ohio Board of Regents and Cincinnati-based procter and Gamble to create a first-of-its-kind master agreement that will make it easier for p&G to enter into research contracts with Ohio’s 14 public universities. This move will allow innovative ideas to come to fruition faster by fostering collaboration between p&G and university researchers. later in the year, Attorney General Cordray again teamed up with the Board of Regents to invite the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association to help lead an ambitious research and development effort. The idea is to promote innovative job creation by connecting Ohio’s manufacturers to each other and top researchers around the state. The Ohio Manufacturing network of Innovation will be a Web-based networking tool connecting manufacturers with researchers at Ohio’s universities and other nonprofit research centers. CleAnInG Up TO ReBUIld
After Continental and United airlines announced a $3.2 billion merger in May, Attorney General Cordray and his Antitrust Section began an investigation to determine how it would affect airline competition in Ohio, particularly at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, a Continental hub. In September, the Attorney General struck a deal with the merged airline, which committed to serve Hopkins for up to five years. Continental Airlines employs about 2,000 workers at Cleveland Hopkins, and another 1,000 people work for regional airline partners. In late September, Attorney General Cordray opened an antitrust inquiry into Southwest Airlines’ announced acquisition of AirTran Airways. Southwest and AirTran are the nation’s largest and eighth-largest carriers by passenger count, respectively, and are major airline operators in Ohio. AirTran flies out of port Columbus International Airport, Akron-Canton Regional Airport and dayton International Airport; Southwest flies out of Cleveland Hopkins and port Columbus.
former General Motors and delphi manufacturing sites in elyria, Mansfield, Moraine, parma and Toledo will benefit from an environmental trust agreement between the former General Motors Corp., the U.S. department of Justice and 14 states, including Ohio. The $39 million in cleanup and remediation funding will help return the sites to productive use, allowing new jobs to be created at these locations.
PrOSeCutinG HeAltH CAre FrAuD A leader among its peers nationwide, the Attorney general’s Health Care fraud section uncovers fraud that cheats taxpayers out of medicaid dollars earmarked to assist the less fortunate and prosecutes fraud and abuse that targets seniors.
SeTTInG A nATIOnAl STAndARd each year, the United States department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General publishes a statistical comparison of the 50 Medicaid fraud Control Units around the country. for federal fiscal year 2009, the most recent statistics available, Ohio’s Medicaid fraud Control Unit ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, in terms of gross dollar recoveries and criminal convictions. Ohio’s unit ranked second nationally when jointly comparing convictions per professional staff and recoveries per grant dollar. pURSUInG MedICAId OveRpAyMenTS In April, the office filed a lawsuit against a large Ohio-based nursing home provider doing business under the name Carington Health Systems. The lawsuit alleged the company overstated nursing home expenses in reports to the Ohio department of Job and family Services, resulting in overpayments of Medicaid reimbursements for 21 facilities. HOldInG pedIATRIC denTAl ClInICS ACCOUnTABle Ohio joined 22 other states and the federal government in a $24 million settlement with the management company of a chain of pediatric dental clinics. The settlement resolves allegations against fORBA Holdings llC that the company submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicaid for medically unnecessary dental procedures. Ohio’s share of the settlement was $2.29 million. The state alleged the dental centers performed unnecessary extractions and root canals, provided unneeded fillings and crowns, unnecessarily administered anesthesia and used inappropriate techniques to restrain child patients. ReCOveRInG MIllIOnS fROM pHARMACeUTICAl COMpAnIeS The Attorney General’s Office netted millions for Ohio’s Medicaid fund through major settlements to resolve allegations against pharmaceutical companies. These included: $1.7 million as part of a nationwide settlement with novartis pharmaceuticals Corp. and novartis vaccines and diagnostics Inc. The agreement resolved allegations that the company promoted the use of tobramycin, a cystic fibrosis drug, for uses not approved by the U.S. food and drug Administration. $8.85 million as part of a national agreement with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to settle allegations of an illegal marketing campaign that improperly promoted the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. $6.8 million in a nationwide settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithkline. The settlement resolved allegations that the firm knowingly manufactured and sold substandard drugs, including paxil CR, an antidepressant, and Avandamet, which is used to treat diabetes.
Fighting for Ohioans
lOOKinG Out FOr VeterAnS Attorney general Cordray worked to reward veterans’ service, punish those who profit at their expense and give families peace in their hours of mourning.
SHUTTInG dOWn pHOny CHARITy Investigators identified serious problems with an outfit known as the U.S. navy veterans Association, which claims to be a legitimate charitable organization but actually is headed by a man whom the office now believes stole other people’s identities and duped donors. This man, who goes by the name of Bobby Thompson (his actual name remains unknown), apparently used donations to enrich himself and make political contributions in his own name and through a political action committee called nAvpAC. from 2003 to 2009, professional solicitors raised about $1.9 million from Ohioans on behalf of the U.S. navy veterans Association. In October, a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Thompson and an associate, Blanca Contreras, on charges of aggravated theft, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity based on their alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars from this fraudulent charity. Contreras was arrested in north Carolina two days after the indictment was issued; Thompson remains at large. Investigators have shut down the group’s UpS mailboxes in lancaster and Cincinnati. enSURInG SOldIeRS’ fAMIlIeS CAn MOURn In peACe Attorney General Cordray joined 47 of his peers around the country to support a military family whose burial service for its son was interrupted by hateful, bigoted protesters. This case, Snyder v. Phelps, was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. fred phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, kan., attempt to publicize their belief that God hates gay people and punishes America for its tolerance by claiming the lives of service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. Signs carried by the phelps family at these protests included such messages as “God Hates you,” “Thank God for dead Soldiers,” “Thank God for 9/11” and “God Hates the USA.” Attorney General Cordray got involved in this case not only to stand on the side of the family of lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder of Maryland, but also on the side of Ohio families who should not be subjected to such abuse in their time of mourning. Such protests are prohibited by an Ohio law that the Attorney General’s Office already had successfully defended in federal appeals court when it was challenged by phelps. keepInG veTeRAnS’ SeRvICe BOnUSeS TAx-fRee Attorney General Cordray, while Ohio Treasurer, proposed a bonus for those who served in the persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars as a small gesture of gratitude for their service. Ohioans had given similar bonuses to veterans of World Wars I and II, korea and vietnam. In november 2009, after Cordray had become Attorney General, more than seven in 10 voters approved this bonus for recent veterans. When the application process opened for the bonus, Attorney General Cordray worked with the Internal Revenue Service, Ohio department of Taxation and the Regional Income Tax Agency to ensure the bonuses would not be subject to federal, state or local income taxes.
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The Attorney General’s Office provides a wide array of services and tools to support the important work of law enforcement and prosecutors and to bring education and funding to crime victims and their advocates. This is accomplished through the work of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the Ohio peace Officer Training Academy, task forces that address vexing problems, services that support crime victims and legal assistance provided to prosecutors.
StrenGtHeninG lAW enFOrCeMent CAPAbilitieS the ohio bureau of Criminal identification and investigation (bCi) is a vital resource for law enforcement agencies throughout the state, providing cutting-edge identification, investigative and laboratory assistance at no cost to local agencies. bCi was reaccredited in 2010 by the Commission on Accreditation of law enforcement Agencies, which is aimed at ensuring the quality delivery of public safety services.
CReATInG neW WAyS TO CATCH CRIMInAlS BCI’s Identification division maintains one of the world’s largest collections of criminal history records and serves as the central repository for Ohio arrest records. In 2010, it submitted more than 319,500 criminal arrest records to the fBI and entered more than 72,700 new criminal offender fingerprints into Ohio’s Automated fingerprint Identification System (AfIS). As a result of a new initiative, the division added more than 340,000 sets of palm prints to AfIS, making it a more robust resource for solving crime. Upgrades to the system during the past two years allowed it to accept and cross-search palm prints as well as fingerprints, and Ohio law enforcement agencies that had been storing palm prints locally contributed prints to the project. Major contributors were Hamilton County and Cincinnati law enforcement agencies, which provided 280,000 palm prints; Columbus division of police, 110,000 prints; Cleveland division of police, 70,000 prints; and West Chester police department, 30,000 prints. Thirty-seven other agencies statewide also supplied prints. palm prints found at crime scenes already have matched those recently added to AfIS in 18 cases since the project launched in 2009. The Attorney General’s Office also used the $2 million department of Justice grant that made the upgrades possible to create a repository for mug shots in AfIS. local agencies are contributing to that project as well, allowing BCI to make the images available to law enforcement statewide through the criminal history database.
STABIlIZInG And enHAnCInG A vITAl ReSOURCe The Attorney General’s information technology staff completed an upgrade that vastly improved the performance of the Ohio law enforcement Gateway (OHleG), a Web-based platform through which agencies access the criminal history database and other important tools and data sources. OHleG’s more than 22,000 users have tapped the system’s search engine more than 3 million times each of the past two years. That level of usage was not envisioned when the system came online with just one application in 2003, and in recent years demand began to outpace the resource’s capabilities. To address increasingly common problems with system speed and availability, the office undertook a six-month project to migrate OHleG to a new platform. As a result, the search engine returns results up to eight times faster. The upgrade also increased the speed of transactions and decreased downtime for the more than 200 law enforcement agencies that rely on the OHleG Records Management System for maintaining departmental records. Upgrades to OHleG’s security functions have made it possible for agencies to link to databases at the national level. new tools also were added to OHleG, including the photo lineup Wizard, which makes it easier and faster for law enforcement agencies to create photo lineups.
MAkInG BIOMeTRIC TeCHnOlOGy WIdely AvAIlABle Two developments have made Ohio a national leader in the use of biometric identification technology by law enforcement and the courts. To help police and sheriffs’ departments identify and apprehend criminals, the Attorney General’s Office distributed 376 biometric identification devices throughout the state. Two types of units were made available: 288 portable Rapid Id units that officers can carry in cruisers and 88 desktop live Id units for placement in all county jails. Officers and corrections authorities use the units to scan a person’s fingerprints and transmit them for comparison with prints on file in Ohio’s Automated fingerprint Identification System (AfIS) and various federal databases. “We are pleased with the consistent support shown to us by Attorney General Cordray and his staff in these tough times,” Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association president Timothy Rogers said. “This cutting-edge technology will help us catch criminals we might not have caught previously, and it is being made available at a minimal cost to county sheriffs.” The Attorney General’s Office also is poised to implement the use of biometric technology in Ohio courtrooms. In november, the office was awarded a $200,000 grant through the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ national Criminal History Improvement program to provide 24 Ohio courts with live Scan biometric identification units. Coupled with equipment purchased in 2009, the new units will enable the Attorney General’s Office to outfit about 100 courts with the devices in 2011. Court officials will use the machines to scan the fingerprints of a defendant, transmit them to AfIS and, if a record exists, quickly determine the individual’s identity and criminal history. Their use will close a gap that can occur if an individual is summoned to appear in court rather than being booked at a law enforcement agency, where fingerprints normally would be taken. The courts also can use the equipment to report case dispositions, ensuring that records are updated as quickly as possible. The Attorney General’s Office will work with the Ohio Supreme Court to prioritize distribution of the equipment across the state. The plan is to place the technology in high-volume common pleas and municipal courts first and then in juvenile courts.
HelpInG SHeRIffS TRACk Sex OffendeRS The office secured a U.S. department of Justice grant to help county sheriffs better track registered sex offenders. Under the project, Ohio’s electronic Sex Offender Registration and notification (eSORn) system was upgraded to include a phone and e-mail alert function that sends automated messages to offenders and sheriffs’ offices five days before offenders are required to re-register. The system also alerts sheriffs if offenders’ contact information is incorrect, signaling that they have moved without notifying authorities. The grant also will cover travel expenses for authorities to return up to 50 of the most serious sex offenders to Ohio to face prosecution.
pROvIdInG InveSTIGATIve ASSISTAnCe STATeWIde BCI’s Investigations division conducted or assisted with criminal investigations in all Ohio counties in 2010, with the total caseload exceeding 1,235. The division’s special agents, forensic computer specialists and criminal intelligence analysts help local jurisdictions secure and analyze evidence, follow leads, assist with legal issues and provide support services to ensure that investigations are thorough and productive. Some examples of cases handled this year: A BCI forensic computer specialist rebuilt a damaged hard drive and recovered evidence that led to the October arrest of a former new Century financial enterprises executive sought in connection with a $2.9 billion fraud. The woman was convicted in March 2008, but skipped bail and headed to Mexico. She was sentenced in absentia to 25 years in prison. The evidence recovered from the hard drive, which the woman had attempted to destroy, led directly to her arrest and extradition. A 16-year veteran of a Clermont County police department pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and resigned after a BCI special agent proved the officer had been stealing and selling drug evidence. The officer was dispatched to investigate a report of an intoxicated person, but instead
was met by an undercover agent in possession of phony Oxycontin pills. The officer confiscated the pills, but did not arrest the undercover agent or log the pills into the police department’s evidence room. The officer was placed on probation for two years and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and maintain full-time employment. BCI helped the small eastern Ohio city of Uhrichsville recover part of its heritage in March. Burglars broke into the Uhrichsville Clay Museum twice in one week in mid-february and made off with 51 saltglazed clay artifacts worth an estimated $50,000 to $75,000 — and significant sentimental value. The items date from the late 1800s to the 1950s, when Uhrichsville was known as the Clay Capital of the World, and had been donated by local families. A BCI special agent processed the crime scene, and he and other agents canvassed area antique shops. Two days after they talked with antique dealers and gathered leads, 40 of the items taken from the museum were left under the carport of a Sugarcreek church. eleven items remain missing.
Eradicating a bumper marijuana crop
BCI agents teamed with local and federal authorities to seize more than 79,000 marijuana plants, the most confiscated since 1997. About half of the plants were part of large-scale Mexican growing operations discovered in licking, logan, Muskingum, portage and pike counties.
during the course of the growing season, authorities seized 60 weapons and arrested more than 100 individuals, including 11 Mexican nationals who were growing about 2,500 plants worth an estimated $5 million.
Of the 70,434 plants seized during the growing season, 52,308 were found in Southeast Ohio. Totals for other regions were: Southwest, 9,773; northwest, 5,464; and northeast, 2,889. Using U.S. drug enforcement Agency estimates, which indicate that an average marijuana plant produces about 2.2 pounds of marijuana worth about $2,200 on the street, the total estimated value of the year’s seized plants was about $150 million.
CReATInG A neW ReSOURCe fOR InveSTIGATORS The Attorney General’s Office introduced an online central repository for information about Ohio’s missing persons, unsolved homicides and unidentified human remains. Housed on the office’s website, the “Open Investigations” portal (www. OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/ OpenInvestigations) is the first resource of its kind in the state. It allows authorities to disseminate information more quickly and to a wider audience in hopes cases can be resolved faster. Anyone can submit tips via the portal, and family members and friends can print posters of missing loved ones for distribution in public places. The Attorney General’s Office provides services related to each of the portal’s three sections. Ohio’s Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, which compiles data on missing children, acts as a liaison with law enforcement and raises awareness. The clearinghouse also issues Ohio’s Missing Child Alerts and Missing Adult Alerts and coordinates with law enforcement on AMBeR Alerts. BCI helps law enforcement solve cold-case homicides through its Unsolved death Initiative. The bureau also distributes project lInk kits, which use a dnA standard from a missing person or family member for comparison with unidentified human remains.
TAkInG lAB SeRvICeS TO A neW level BCI’s laboratory division dropped its turnaround times for testing evidence significantly in 2010, returning results to local law enforcement agencies in an average of 47 days, down from 71 days the year before. Seven lab units — the Chemistry, Combined dnA Index System (COdIS), Questioned documents, firearms, forensic Biology, latent prints and polygraph units — met BCI’s 45-day benchmark through each of the first three quarters of the year. The division’s forensic scientists and polygraph examiners completed 29,312 assignments and examined more than 82,500 items of evidence for law enforcement agencies as of late november. BCI operates three laboratories — in london, Richfield and Bowling Green — and all are accredited by the American Society of Crime laboratory directors/laboratory Accreditation Board, which ensures the highest standard of quality. In addition, the dnA and COdIS sections are externally audited every two years for compliance with the fBI’s dnA Quality Assurance Standards. BCI’s london and Richfield labs introduced robotic equipment in 2009 to increase their capacity for dnA testing. The resulting drop in evidence turnaround times was so impressive with six robots that Attorney General Cordray authorized a doubling of robotic equipment by mid2011. four of the new robots will be dedicated to testing sexual assault kits, while the other two will allow BCI to meet a new state requirement to log the dnA of all felon arrestees. Through August 2010, BCI had tested 334 blood samples using robots, and of those, 176 — or 53 percent — matched the dnA of a known individual in the COdIS database. eighty-one others matched to a known individual such as an existing suspect, and 15 more linked to other unsolved cases. The use of robotics means not only are local law enforcement agencies receiving results more quickly, but they can rely on BCI to analyze blood evidence in cases such as burglaries, which the labs could not accept previously. Using the robots, scientists can extract dnA from samples in a matter of hours rather than days. In another lab division advancement, an expansion of COdIS lab space in spring 2010 allowed BCI’s convicted offender dnA testing to occur in-house for the first time in the bureau’s history, providing an estimated savings of about $500,000 annually.
PArtnerinG On DiFFiCult iSSueS many issues facing law enforcement today are best handled collaboratively with agencies at the local, state and federal levels. in 2010, the Attorney general’s office teamed up with others across the state on topics ranging from human trafficking to methamphetamine production.
AddReSSInG THe SCOURGe Of HUMAn TRAffICkInG A number of efforts within the Attorney General’s Office are aimed at helping the state become a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, a growing and complex problem in Ohio and around the world. A primary focus is the Trafficking in persons Study Commission, which Attorney General Cordray formed and chaired. The group works to build a greater understanding of the scope of human trafficking and the steps necessary to address it. The commission developed a new model to identify and quantify factors that draw traffickers to Ohio, provided recommendations to strengthen Ohio’s criminal laws, assessed services now available for survivors and provided a framework that community groups can adopt to help victims. This work was rewarded in december when the Ohio legislature passed a bill to make human trafficking a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison. To raise awareness of the issues surrounding human trafficking and how best to investigate it, the Ohio peace Officer Training Academy developed two online courses. More than 2,700 law enforcement officers have completed the Awareness of Human Trafficking course, while more than 1,100 have taken the Responding to Human Trafficking offering. In June, the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition presented Attorney General Cordray with its inaugural promoter of Justice Award for his leadership on the issue of human trafficking. In presenting the award, Michelle Hannan of the coalition said, “Today, victims of trafficking have a far greater chance of being identified, rescued and restored, and traffickers are far more likely to face prosecution, due to the dedication and commitment of Attorney General Richard Cordray. With this promoter of Justice Award, we would like to extend our deepest thanks for his work to abolish modern-day slavery in Ohio.”
CRACkInG dOWn On MeTH pROdUCTIOn Attorney General Cordray teamed up with partners across the state to introduce face:meth, a pilot project that connects local law enforcement with retailers who sell products used to make methamphetamine. piloted in Akron, Ashtabula, Clermont and Highland counties, the project is a part of the Ohio Methamphetamine pilot Initiative, funded by a grant from the U.S. department of Justice. face:meth addresses the fact that meth producers favor small, mobile labs rather than large, home-based operations, making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement to track the labs. About 300 meth lab seizures have occurred in Ohio each of the past two years. Meth is unique among illicit drugs because nearly everything used to make it can be found in a local supermarket or pharmacy. Items such as starting fluid, cold packs, matches, coffee filters and pop bottles can be combined with the primary ingredient of pseudoephedrine to make the drug. The volatile nature of the process makes the manufacture of meth extremely dangerous to producers as well as to nearby children, neighbors and bystanders. The toxic waste meth creates also is harmful to the environment, the health of the community and the safety of law enforcement.
GAInInG CRAIGSlIST’S COOpeRATIOn In August, Attorney General Cordray joined 16 other state attorneys general in calling on the popular website Craigslist to remove its adult services section because it contained ads for prostitution and prompted concerns about the possible sex trafficking of children. Craigslist complied with the request in September. Meanwhile, in an effort to shed light on rampant online fraud, the Attorney General’s Office partnered with Craigslist to provide recourse for customers who have been scammed via the site. Craigslist placed a link on its site enabling Ohioans who are scammed — or users who see an Ohio-based scam — to submit complaints directly to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. pROvIdInG fUndInG fOR lAW enfORCeMenT Two hundred law enforcement agencies statewide received $4.2 million for drug use prevention programs, the most the Ohio Attorney General’s drug Use prevention Grant has ever funded. The grants supported the efforts of 380 peace officers in 61 counties working with an estimated 414,144 students.
tAKinG On OrGAnizeD CriMe the ohio organized Crime investigations Commission (ooCiC) — through the regional task forces it authorizes — provides a way for local, state and federal agencies to work together across multiple jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute organized crime rings. the commission oversaw 15 task forces in 2010.
Among them is the Multi-Jurisdictional Counterfeit Check Task force, whose work has resulted in 259 arrests and 58 convictions to date. The task force addresses the growing problem caused by counterfeiters who produce and cash phony checks in Central Ohio. Using valid account and routing numbers, the ringleaders print counterfeit business payroll checks and then recruit individuals who cash them for a share of the proceeds. Organized groups of check printers have been identified in 18 Central Ohio counties, costing merchants, banks and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The task force is made up of several law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, the postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the national Insurance Crime Bureau and investigators from the Attorney General’s Office. While operating under the umbrella of the OOCIC, the commission’s forensic Audio/video laboratory provides video and audio analysis and enhancement, forensic animation, reconstruction of damaged tapes and other services for any local, state or federal agency. As of late november, the lab’s three forensic audio video analysts had processed 790 items for 114 agencies in 2010. Turnaround times averaged 14 days, although often the analysts can assist law enforcement officers while they wait.
ASSiStinG CriMe ViCtiMS AnD COMMunitieS victims of violent crime face many setbacks as a result of their tragic and unexpected circumstances. the Attorney general’s office offers services to aid victims, trainings for professionals who assist them and crime prevention programs for ohio communities. the office also oversees the fund that compensates victims and their families for certain expenses.
SAfeGUARdInG fUndS THAT ASSIST vICTIMS The Attorney General’s Office oversees Ohio’s Crime victims Reparations fund, which compensates victims of violent crime and eligible family members for medical and counseling expenses, lost wages and certain other costs. In fiscal 2010, the fund provided compensation to 4,334 claimants, paying out $10,684,138, an average of $2,465 per award. The fund also reimburses hospitals for forensic exams performed after suspected sexual assaults. The Sexual Assault forensic examination (SAfe) program ensures that victims are not charged for medical expenses and that evidence is collected properly for future prosecution. The reparations fund paid 6,443 SAfe claims totaling $3,427,676 in fiscal 2010. efforts Attorney General Cordray’s staff took to address the solvency of the Crime victims Reparations fund have begun to pay off. The office identified other revenue sources to cover certain expenses and capped the amount it pays private attorneys to assist crime victims in obtaining civil protection orders, resulting in a 28 percent decline in spending in fiscal 2010. The office also has a statutory duty to hold offenders financially accountable for their crimes, and the more than $517,000 collected from offenders and other responsible sources contributed to a healthier bottom line. The fund stood at approximately $12.5 million at the end of fiscal 2010, marking the first time the balance had increased in five years.
WIdenInG THe fIGHT AGAInST dOMeSTIC vIOlenCe Attorney General Cordray and his staff have created a new force of more than 800 individuals to assist in the fight against domestic violence through Cut It Out. The program trains salon professionals, cosmetology students and victim advocates to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and refer victims for assistance. A national program, Cut It Out was introduced in Ohio in 2004, but had fallen into disuse until Cordray’s staff resumed trainings in 2009. This year, the staff instructed 31 people who work in victim advocacy to serve as Cut It Out trainers, broadening the program’s reach. Through a partnership the Attorney General established with the Ohio Board of Cosmetology, stylists who attend the two-hour training also receive continuing education credits. Sarita Spinks of the domestic violence Center of Greater Cleveland helped organize two Cut It Out trainings in Cleveland in October. Afterward, she said the information and concepts are on the mark. “All of those who attended left with a deeper understanding of the impact of domestic violence and a willingness to help,” Spinks said. “They realized that they are in a position to help someone in need and, perhaps, save a life.”
MAkInG CyBeRSpACe SAfeR fOR kIdS In an effort to increase the online safety of Ohio children, Attorney General Richard Cordray teamed up with schools, parents and local law enforcement to produce Ohio’s first Cyber Safety Week in October. The observance raised visibility about the dark side of technology, including cyber bullying, “sexting” and online predators. presentations reached more than 7,000 students and nearly 200 parents statewide. The Attorney General’s Office also partnered with InfOhio, a network for schools, and the South Central Ohio Computer Association to present a statewide webinar for about 50 teachers and librarians. The office’s cyber safety demonstrations in schools have reached about 70,000 children and teachers during the past two years. The presentations bring alarming stories to light. for instance: A fifth-grader said she had been receiving creepy e-mails that scared her so much that her mom had to sleep in her room. Students disclosed that a boy has been sending them naked pictures of himself for a year and no one had told an adult. An elementary school student said he had considered suicide as a result of being bullied. pROTeCTInG And eMpOWeRInG SenIORS The Attorney General’s Office partnered with Ohio law enforcement groups in a statewide effort to protect and empower senior citizens through the creation of organizations known as Triads. These teams of law enforcement leaders, seniors and advocates help older residents learn of the scams and crimes that target them, increase their communication with law enforcement and make them aware of community resources. Triads now exist in 23 Ohio counties, up from about six previously. partnering in the effort were the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, Ohio Association of Chiefs of police, Ohio Crime prevention Association, Ohio department of Aging and national Association of Triads Inc.
BRInGInG edUCATIOn, fUndInG TO vICTIM AdvOCATeS nearly 1,000 crime victim advocates, law enforcement officers, attorneys and victims attended the Attorney General’s Two days in May Conference, which this year provided information on financial exploitation, shaken baby syndrome, elder abuse, serial rape and other topics. The nationally recognized event features speakers and workshops that examine current issues affecting crime victims and best practices for victim advocates. The 2010 promising practices Award went to Wood County’s Center for Access to Safety and Justice, which provides free household goods to individuals fleeing violent situations. The Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award honored polly Germer of the Children’s Advocacy Center of portage County, a victim advocate who has dedicated 25 years to serving abused children. Hundreds of victim service organizations throughout the state received more than $17 million in grant funding from the Attorney General’s Office in 2010. The state and federal dollars will be used to fund projects that assist victims of elder abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking and other violent crimes in all 88 counties.
SuPPOrtinG tHe iMPOrtAnt WOrK OF PrOSeCutOrS Attorney general Cordray’s Criminal Justice section maximizes the legal resources available throughout the state by assisting with complex cases, fighting to uphold convictions and sentences, and defending against civil suits.
ASSISTInG WITH MAJOR CASeS The Special prosecutions Unit assisted with cases in almost a third of Ohio counties during the year. Its attorneys are assigned to offices around the state, a strategy implemented in the first year of Attorney General Cordray’s term to make them more accessible throughout Ohio. The unit assists with major felony cases such as homicides, child sex offenses and public corruption, working alongside county prosecutors or taking over a case if a prosecutor has a conflict of interest. State v. Eugene Blake: This 28-year-old cold case was solved through the work of Belmont County officials, the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and Special prosecutions. Mark Withers, 21, was shot to death, and his girlfriend,17, was repeatedly raped late at night in a Bridgeport park. BCI developed a dnA profile of the killer from evidence preserved in 1982. When entered in the COdIS database, the profile matched the dnA of eugene Blake, who was in prison for the sexual assault and murder of a 13-year-old in 1984 and was eligible for parole in 2011. The Special prosecutions Unit and Belmont County prosecutor’s Office prepared the case for trial, which was about to start when Blake pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison. UpHOldInG deATH SenTenCeS The Capital Crimes Unit works to uphold lawfully imposed death sentences and assists prosecutors by participating in capital litigation in state courts and responding to clemency requests prior to execution. The unit was responsible for 135 aggravated murder cases with death sentences in various stages of federal review or the clemency process. State v. Spisak: The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence of frank Spisak, who killed three people during a hate-inspired shooting spree at Cleveland State University. At trial, Spisak testified that he adhered to the teachings of Adolf Hitler and promised to continue his murder campaign. A Cuyahoga County jury convicted Spisak and recommended the death sentence. The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit set aside the sentence, ruling that the trial court had given improper instructions to the jury and that Spisak’s attorney had made an inappropriate closing argument. Attorney General Cordray argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which reinstated the sentence.
Earning national recognition
principal Assistant Attorney General Chuck Wille, who heads the Capital Crimes Unit, received an Appellate Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Capital Cases from the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital litigation.
The national award recognized Wille’s work on capital cases, including lethal injection litigation, and cases that received favorable decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court or an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
enSURInG COnvICTIOnS UpHeld The Habeas Unit represents the Ohio department of Rehabilitation and Correction (dRC) in federal and state habeas corpus litigation brought by inmates who claim their convictions or prison sentences are unconstitutional. The unit defended more than 400 new habeas petitions and was successful in having the original convictions and sentences upheld in 98 percent of the cases. Garr v. Warden: The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously agreed with the Attorney General’s argument that the mandatory 10-year sentencing enhancement Ohio law provides for those convicted as “major drug offenders” can be applied to an offender who offers to sell illicit drugs even if the drugs are not recovered. The decision represented a major victory for law enforcement. defendInG AGAInST InMATeS’ ClAIMS The Corrections Unit, which represents dRC and the department of youth Services (dyS) in civil suits brought by inmates, is actively defending 290 suits in state or federal courts. It has been successful in obtaining dismissals in more than 90 percent of such suits. five major class-action suits brought against dRC and dyS affect how they must confine inmates, and any adverse rulings could increase the departments’ operational costs by millions of dollars. Allen v. Collins: The unit has maintained a strong record in defending inmates’ many challenges to the decision-making of the Adult parole Authority. In August, a U.S. district Court granted the Attorney General’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a suit brought by 28 inmates who challenged parole guidelines. defendInG leTHAl InJeCTIOn pROTOCOl The Attorney General’s Office successfully defended multiple challenges to the constitutionality of the state’s one-drug lethal injection protocol, which Ohio became the first state to implement in 2009. nine executions have been carried out using the protocol, including eight in 2010. Washington has since adopted a similar method of lethal injection, and California officials are studying the issue. More than 270 prosecutors from across Ohio attended a free, two-day training the Attorney General’s Office presented on prosecuting capital cases. The offering, which brought prosecutors up to date on legal developments in capital case litigation and the latest forensic investigation procedures, provided free continuing legal education hours. It was made possible by a $100,000 department of Justice grant and will be followed by a more advanced training on the topic in 2011.
Providing free training for prosecutors
OVerSeeinG PeACe OFFiCe trAininG the ohio peace officer training Commission oversees the training and certification of all ohio peace officers as well as that of private security and corrections employees, jailers, bailiffs and law enforcement canine units. one of its primary tasks is overseeing the ohio peace officer training Academy (opotA), which was given flagship Agency status in 2010 by the Commission on Accreditation of law enforcement Agencies (CAleA).
Through October, the commission oversaw 457 basic training school openings, administered 2,313 final examinations and issued 4,837 basic training certificates. It also approved 492 canine unit certifications and processed 920 requalification certificates for firearms instructors. OpOTA provides advanced training for law enforcement officers across the state on a full range of crime-fighting topics, such as gangs, firearms, SWAT, precision driving, crime scene management and more. The flagship Agency status it earned in 2010 from CAleA recognizes OpOTA as a model in compliance, policy development, records maintenance and other issues. Academy courses are taught on a main campus and at a tactical training center, both in london, Ohio, and on a satellite campus in Richfield. Instructors taught about 530 course sessions with a total enrollment of more than 9,300 in 2010. Taking into consideration the tight budgets facing law enforcement agencies around the state, OpOTA conducted 110 free regional training sessions in collaboration with other agencies. The sessions — on topics ranging from gang investigations to supervision — reached more than 5,300 law enforcement officers statewide. OpOTA also added a record number of offerings to eOpOTA, a free Webbased instruction program that now features 53 courses. Ohio peace officers completed nearly 22,000 course sessions. The most popular sessions focus on recently enacted Senate Bill 77, human trafficking and exploitation of senior citizens, all of which provided continuing professional training credit. OpOTA staff members also updated eOpOTA’s courses on search and seizure and confessions and interrogations.
Competing for ‘Top Shot’
OpOTA firearms instructor Chris Cerino brought national acclaim to the academy when he finished second in the History Channel’s first-ever reality series, “Top Shot.” The show was designed to identify the nation’s best marksmen.
An instructor on OpOTA’s Richfield campus, Cerino and 15 others were chosen to compete from a field of more than 6,000 applicants. The 10-week series began in June and concluded in August with Cerino having outperformed military experts and master competition shooters.
“even though he didn’t win the competition, Chris is still a big winner,” pickington police Chief Michael d. Taylor said in a letter to the Attorney General. “To go as far as he did in the game was magnificent.”
WitH pRofessionAlism And integRity
The earliest and most fundamental role of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office is to provide professional legal service to its clients, which are state agencies and offices and, by extension, the people of the state of Ohio whom those entities represent. In 2010, the office won key cases at the highest levels of the state and federal court systems while fighting for the interests of the state, its people and its resources.
Advocating for Ohio
Excellence in writing
rePreSentinG OHiO in COurt since Attorney general Richard Cordray took office in January 2009, the u.s. supreme Court has heard four cases from ohio, including one that Cordray personally argued. ohio won the first three cases unanimously, while the fourth case is pending.
Levin v. Commerce Energy: In a unanimous opinion handed down in June, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the federal appeals court and held that federal courts had no jurisdiction to hear a case in which a company challenged the way Ohio taxes certain natural gas companies. The court agreed with the Attorney General’s Office that the case was within the state’s jurisdiction, ensuring that Ohio courts can keep watch over its own tax system. for the first time since 2001, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was recognized with a Best Brief Award by the national Association of Attorneys General. Solicitor General Benjamin C. Mizer, Chief deputy Solicitor General Alexandra T. Schimmer, deputy Solicitors Stephen p. Carney and elisabeth A. long and Assistant Attorney General Barton A. Hubbard were praised for their exceptional work in addressing the fundamental issue of federalism in the United States Supreme Court case Levin v. Commerce Energy.
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, persuade it to rule in its favor. When the Attorney General’s Office asks the Ohio Supreme Court to hear a case, it’s likely to listen. The Appeals Section’s 71 percent acceptance rate is far above the 10 percent average.
Appeals section wins in 2010 u.s. supreme Court: 100% (1 of 1 case) ohio supreme Court: 80% (4 of 5 cases)*
* figures exclude one case settled with a mixed opinion.
Earning recognition for service
pROTeCTInG lAke eRIe’S nATIve fISH pOpUlATIOn In the early 1970s, two species of Asian carp were imported to the lower Mississippi River Basin as an experiment aimed at controlling algae in ponds. during a flood, the invasive fish escaped into streams and rivers and rapidly migrated north via the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Along the way, they significantly disrupted or displaced native fish populations in their natural habitats. despite attempts to control their migration and prevent their movement, one of the fish was found six miles from lake Michigan — the gateway to the Great lakes and lake erie — jeopardizing Ohio’s $980 million fishing and tourism industries as well as existing habitat. Ohio Attorney General Cordray and his counterparts in four other states bordering the Great lakes filed suit in June seeking the court’s assistance in protecting against the spread of Asian carp into the Great lakes through the Chicago Area Waterway System. The lawsuit requested construction of a permanent physical barrier between the Great lakes and Mississippi River basins. Although a judge denied a preliminary injunction to force the barrier’s construction, the case was still pending as of mid-december. Jennifer A. Adair, assistant attorney general in the Court of Claims defense Section, earned a 2010 district 7 Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and Under from the Ohio State Bar foundation. The foundation presented the award in recognition of Adair’s volunteer work to assist minorities in their pursuit of law careers.
UpHOldInG MInIMUM WAGe ReQUIReMenTS Cordray v. Angels Learning Center: In the largest minimum wage case in Ohio history, the Attorney General’s Office secured a default judgment of more than $1 million in lost wages and civil penalties against Angels learning Center llC of Columbus for failing to pay employees at least minimum wage. The lawsuit, filed in September 2009 on behalf of the Ohio department of Commerce, accused the learning center of refusing to pay 150 employees more than $400,000 due them for work performed from Aug. 1, 2007, through dec. 31, 2008. Bergman v. Monarch Construction: The Attorney General’s Office filed an amicus brief to support a group of 36 underpaid construction workers in their efforts to uphold full and fair application of prevailing wage laws. The brief was aimed at ensuring that companies meet their obligations and pay full penalties if they underpay their workers. In a March ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed.
Adair has spent the past seven years as a Teen Court hearing officer with the franklin County Court of Common pleas. Teen Court allows students who are first-time offenders to clear their criminal records by completing a diversion program in which they receive their sentences from other teens. Teen defendants, in turn, serve as jurors, attorneys and bailiffs in the cases of their peers.
Adair says her reward comes when she hears from grateful students who passed through the program years earlier.
“With every conversation I have in Teen Court, I try to make it personal to the student because I never know if I am the only one telling them that their dreams are possible,” she said.
Advocating for Ohio
pROTeCTInG WORkeRS fROM SeCOndHAnd SMOke The Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio department of Health filed lawsuits against five establishments for evidence of repeated and intentional violations of the Smoke free Workplace Act. The lawsuits were the first to be filed since the act took effect in 2007. In november, the 10th district Court of Appeals sided with the Attorney General’s efforts to enforce the law. SHIeldInG kIdS fROM pORn In Cordray v. American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed with the Attorney General’s Office and ruled in April to uphold the state’s new law that prohibits disseminating pornography and other harmful materials to juveniles. At issue in the case was an Ohio law prohibiting adults from sending material defined as “harmful to juveniles” — such as pornography — directly to minors by electronic means. A group of online publishers challenged the law, arguing that it violated their free speech rights under the first Amendment. The Attorney General argued that the law is constitutional and does not sweep as broadly as the online publishers claimed. The court agreed.
deMAndInG TRUTH In eleCTIOn AdveRTISInG In Susan B. Anthony List v. Rep. Driehaus and Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending v. Ohio Elections Commission, the Attorney General’s Office defended the Ohio statute that prohibits the intentional use of false statements in election advertising. Both plaintiffs in the federal suits claim the law violates their first Amendment rights. The office was successful in turning back requests for emergency orders, allowing the state to continue to enforce the law in the days leading up to the election. Both cases are pending. defendInG OHIO’S AnTI-GAMBlInG lAWS In Pickaway County Skilled Gaming v. Cordray, the Attorney General’s Office successfully defended against a constitutional challenge to an Ohio anti-gambling law that places a $10 limit on the value of any prize awarded by a skill-based amusement machine. The limit is designed to prevent overspending induced by the lure of a big prize and to discourage machine operators from converting machines into chance-based gambling machines. Although a lower court threw out the law, the Ohio Supreme Court in October sided with the Attorney General’s contention that the law is valid.
SUppORTInG SCHOOlS When Cleveland-area Greater Heights Academy failed to pay for busing services, Community Bus Services tried to garnish the school’s aid payments from the state. In Community Bus Services v. Greater Heights Academy, the Cleveland Municipal Court and the 8th district Court of Appeals unanimously agreed in november 2009 with the Attorney General’s position that sovereign immunity does not permit a private company to garnish state aid payments. In May, Community Bus Services appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear the case. enSURInG fAIR SeTTleMenT Approximately 120,000 owners nationwide of 2003 to 2008 Honda Civic Hybrids filed a class action lawsuit in 2007 claiming that Honda knowingly advertised unrealistic fuel efficiency rates. Without admitting wrongdoing, Honda agreed to settle the lawsuit and offered Civic owners a coupon voucher for a discount on the purchase of another Honda with restrictive stipulations. On behalf of Ohioans affected by the settlement, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office joined 25 other state attorneys general in opposing the settlement because car owners would benefit only if they bought another Honda. The district court agreed and rejected the settlement. The states are awaiting a revised proposal from the car company.
UpHOldInG dRUG lAWS In Doe v. Ronan, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the Attorney General’s Office in its efforts to uphold a state law that prohibits school districts from renewing the contracts of employees convicted of drug crimes, even if the crime was committed before the person was first hired and before the law took effect. In Garr v. Warden the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the Attorney General’s Office that a drug trafficker should receive a sentence that directly correlates with the size of the deal, even if it was never completed and the drugs were never found. SUppORTInG pIvOTAl CASeS The Attorney General’s Office supported the legal positions of others by filing amicus briefs on these issues: Ensuring transparency in government: In Doe v. Reed, Ohio led other attorneys general in support of the State of Washington’s efforts to maintain that signatures collected for petitions are public record. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in June. Protecting child victims: In State v. Arnold, the Attorney General’s Office won a partial victory in helping to ensure that children who are victims of crime won’t have to talk repeatedly to police or testify in court. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in June that recorded statements made to a social worker may be used in court to convict a criminal. Keeping criminals off the streets: A dayton-area man charged with rape was found to be mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial. In State v. Williams, the Attorney General’s Office supported Montgomery County in persuading the Ohio Supreme Court to reinstate an important law that would allow someone charged with a violent offense to be committed to a hospital or treatment facility in order to protect the community and help the ill defendant. The court sided with Montgomery County in June.
Encouraging careers in law
Assistant Attorney General Mahjabeen Qadir feels rewarded as she watches high school students argue their mock trial cases. Qadir has spent nearly six years coordinating the district and regional Ohio high school mock trial competition. Thirty teams from across the state participate in the district competition after spending a semester studying civics. Teams argue the same case from both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s perspective and those that win each mock trial advance to regionals. In the upcoming competition starting in february 2011, participants will analyze an individual’s rights to claim the body parts of a deceased family member.
Ohio’s longest-standing academic contest, the mock trial competition is sponsored by the Ohio Center for lawRelated education. It requires 60 volunteer judges, about half of whom are typically assistant attorneys general.
Attorney General’s 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 Benjamin C. Mizer, Solicitor General Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation peter Tobin, Superintendent Business Counsel Stacey Bennett, 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 keesha Mitchell, Section Chief Health and Human Services Jonathan fulkerson, Section Chief Information Technology Michael Sawczyn, Chief Information Officer Labor Relations Anne Hoke, Acting Section Chief Legal Service Russ Balthis, Section Chief Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and Academy Robert fiatal, Executive Director Opinions Section kevin McIver, Section Chief Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission Jeff Rossi, Executive Director Public Utilities duane W. luckey, Section Chief Revenue Recovery darla Reardon, Section Chief
ReGIOnAl OffICeS Taxation larry pratt, Section Chief Tobacco Enforcement Susan Walker, Section Chief Transportation Rick Makowski, Section Chief Workers’ Compensation patsy Thomas, Section Chief 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 1 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., 17th floor Columbus, OH 43215 (800) 282-0515 www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov