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Published: Wednesday, 12/19/2007

Suspect in '70 slaying of Toledo officer jailed for forgery

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
McClellan McClellan
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The one-time suspect in the unsolved murder of a Toledo police officer in 1970 was sentenced to prison yesterday for stealing money from the attorneys who have employed him for more than 30 years.

John McClellan, 63, of 1105 1/2 Avondale Ave., was sentenced to a total of 30 months in prison. He pleaded no contest to four counts of forgery on Nov. 8 in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the theft of several checks earlier this year on which he forged two local attorneys' names.

An additional three counts of forgery were dismissed.

Prior to the sentencing, attorney Jeff Crowther told Judge James Bates that McClellan had a "hard year," magnified by the high-profile murder case of Robert Jobe.

Jobe was convicted last month in the Feb. 21 shooting death of Toledo police Vice Detective Keith Dressel.

Detective Dressel was the first officer killed in the line of duty since Officer William Miscannon was gunned down in 1970. McClellan was arrested and tried twice for the murder but never convicted.

"The high-profile activities in the courthouse have dug up the past He got into alcohol again," Mr. Crowther said. "He made a bad decision and for that he is truly sorry."

McClellan worked as a runner for several attorneys located in the Spitzer Building, including Robert Kaplan, who represented him during his aggravated murder trial 37 years ago. It was from two of those attorneys, Jane Roman and John Huffman, that McClellan stole checks and forged their names.

McClellan spoke of the drinking that he has done over the years and asked the judge for the opportunity to pay the money back.

The seven forgeries occurred between Jan. 8 and Feb. 12 and totaled $2,715. Judge Bates sentenced McClellan to 10 months in prison on each of the four counts that were part of the plea and ordered that one term be served concurrent and the others be served one after the other.

The judge explained that the attorneys were reimbursed by the banks where the checks were cashed. But he said he was bothered that McClellan chose to victimize those people who have helped him throughout the years.

"The real sad part of this case is that the attorneys in the Spitzer Building have taken care of you for 30 years," he said to McClellan, adding that they employed him when many others would likely not have.

McClellan was charged with Officer Miscannon's Sept. 18, 1970, murder. Two trials resulted in hung juries and the charges were eventually dismissed after an appellate court ruled that new evidence was necessary before McClellan could be tried again.

The case remains unsolved.

Jobe, 15, was convicted by a jury of murder for the death of Detective Dressel. He was sentenced Nov. 30 to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 years.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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