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Published: 2/28/2007

Police dog's bachelor's degree prods legal howling about chief

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
McGuire McGuire
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TIFFIN - The Fostoria Police Department may have the most educated police dog around.

Documents filed Monday in Seneca County Common Pleas Court show that John I. Rocko, aka Rocko the police dog, received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice last year. Not only that, it's the same institution that police Chief John McGuire's resume said he received a degree from in 2002.

Attorney Gene Murray, in a motion on behalf of his client, Clifford Green, said he wants the dog to be subpoenaed into court as an exhibit for having received the same degree as Chief McGuire and "for giving one pause, if not paws, for concern of what it actually takes to achieve and be awarded the concordant degrees of the dog and John McGuire, both cum laude alumni of Concordia College and University."

Both Rocko and the police chief have degrees from Concordia, an online degree program in the Virgin Islands.

It was not clear who applied for and paid $499 to obtain Rocko's degree from the college. Mr. Murray declined to speculate.

While their courseloads were nearly identical, the dog received an A+ in "Structure and Process of the American Court System"; Chief McGuire got a B- in the same class, the transcripts show.

In a colorful court filing that contrasted Chief McGuire to the title character in The Music Man for swooping into town with false credentials, Mr. Murray intensified his quest to have his client's pat-down search by Chief McGuire thrown out on the grounds that the chief was not legally employed as police chief.

Mr. Green, 24, of Fostoria, was arrested Oct. 27 by Fostoria police for possession of crack cocaine - some two months after the Ohio 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that the process used by the Fostoria Civil Service Commission to hire Chief McGuire was flawed.

The appellate court remanded the case filed by the union representing Fostoria patrol officers to Seneca County Common Pleas Court, where it is pending.

"This is a citizen coming up to my client and patting him down, and he's doing it under color of authority which we respectfully submit he doesn't have," Mr. Murray said yesterday.

Mr. Green's arrest also oc-curred less than two weeks after the police chief was indicted by a Seneca County grand jury on two counts of falsification and two counts of tampering with records for allegedly misrepresenting his credentials when he applied for the chief's job.

Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert, Jr., said he would ask the court to deny Mr. Murray's motion though he doesn't deny the chief could have some credibility issues if he is called to the stand in the Green case.

"While [the chief's] credibility is an issue, I think [Mr. Murray] is going kind of far afield in bringing in the dog," Mr. Egbert said, adding that other police officers were involved in Mr. Green's arrest.

"We're trying to get the drug dealer prosecuted," he said. "It just so happens the chief of police a week after he was served with an indictment on his own criminal case and while the whole civil case was on appeal, he chose to get involved in the search and seizure of 53 grams of crack cocaine."

The chief, who has remained on duty since his indictment, referred questions to his attorney, who could not be reached yesterday.

Fostoria Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said Chief McGuire remains on duty because the charges against him allegedly occurred before he was hired by Fostoria and did not involve on-the-job criminal activity.

As for Chief McGuire's apparent mail-order degree, Mr. Rains said it was irrelevant to the selection committee primarily because the police chief is not required to have a bachelor's degree.

"It is what it is, and we moved on down the road," Mr. Rains said.

Litigation stemming from the chief's hiring has continued to mount.

Earlier this month, Chief McGuire sued Perkins Township trustees and township police Chief Tim McClung claiming Chief McClung made defamatory comments about him when Mr. McGuire was a candidate for the chief's job in Fostoria early last year.

Chief McGuire said Chief McClung made false statements "with intent to harm" him, although the complaint does not specify what statements were false and malicious.

The suit, filed in Seneca County Common Pleas Court, seeks in excess of $25,000 in damages.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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