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Published: Friday, 6/6/2003

Ex-officer sentenced in hoax case

A former Toledo police officer who wrote threatening letters and staged other incidents to win the affection of a colleague was sentenced yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to community control.

Barbara Creagan-Ott, 32, of 1749 Green Valley Drive resigned from the department on April 24 after confessing to carrying out a four-month long hoax to make it appear as though others were harassing her with letters and bizarre threats.

Prosecutors said Creagan-Ott was romantically attracted to another officer and staged the events to attract his attention.

Judge Charles Wittenberg placed Creagan-Ott on community control for five years and ordered her to undergo psychological treatment and counseling and perform 500 hours of community service. She also will have to pay restitution for the cost of the police investigation.

She pleaded guilty May 2 to one count of tampering with evidence, a felony that carries a possible five-year prison sentence.

The scheme concocted by Creagan-Ott, who joined the department in 1995, began in January when the first of 13 unsigned letters were sent to herself and an officer's wife.

Prosecutors said she disguised her voice as a man and left a threatening phone message to herself. She used a sharp object to scratch “die Barbie” into the paint of her police car and plunged a knife with a note attached into the headrest of the seat. She also had a box of candy laced with an over-the-counter sleeping pill delivered to herself.

“You were a public servant. Your were taught to obey the laws and to enforce the laws. Instead, you used your position to commit this crime,” the judge said.

The hoax caused a 12-year veteran of the department to resign. Officer Richard Mohr quit in March after he was falsely accused of being involved in the hoax. He did not participate in the incidents.

Creagan-Ott appeared at the hearing with her husband and father. She gave an emotional statement, choking back tears as she apologized to the court.

“I know I have to be punished for my actions. I have come to terms with whatever that may be,” she said. “I am not a dangerous person. I would not physically hurt someone.”

Jeff Lingo, an assistant county prosecutor, said Creagan-Ott has contributed $1,000 for restitution. Police officials estimated that nearly $50,000 in overtime was spent on the investigation. However, a hearing will be held July 11 to determine how much Creagan-Ott owes the department.

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