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Published: Monday, 8/24/2009

Former Dann aide gets 45 days in prison after pleading guilty on theft, fraud charges

BY JIM PROVANCE
COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - Anthony Gutierrez, a former top aide to then-Attorney General Marc Dann, on Monday pleaded guilty and will likely serve 45 days in prison for theft in office and other crimes.

He had initially placed 10 counts of theft, fraud, and other charges for allegedly using his job with the Democratic attorney general to benefit himself and his private construction company.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty was preparing for questioning a 40 potential jurors for the trial when county Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Gutierrez’s attorney, Karl Schneider, put their heads together.

Gutierrez, 51, of suburban Youngstown, pleaded guilty to theft in office and unauthorized use of public property, both fifth degree felonies, that could each carry as much as a year in prison. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of soliciting improper compensation, and one count each of filing false ethics statements and attempted worker’s compensation fraud. Each is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying a potential of six months in jail.

Mr. Dann resigned in May, 2008 under pressure from Republicans, and fellow Democrats alike following a sexual harassment scandal in his office centering around Gutierrez. The attorney general’s office has since settled a lawsuit with two women who accused Gutierrez of harassing them.

Mr. Dann held on to office for several more weeks after admitting that he feared his own extra-marital affair with his scheduler may have set a poor example. The harassment allegations and general reports of unprofessional and lewd conduct led to a multi-agency investigation that descended on his office just hours before he handed his resignation to Gov. Ted Strickland.

Gutierrez could have faced eight years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted on all 10 charges he originally faced.

He could face a potential total sentence of 4 years and $9,000 in fines but, the prosecution has agreed with a defense recommendation that he serve just 45 days in Trumbull or Mahoning counties in 15-day increments. To date, Gutierrez, is the only Dann aide to face criminal, non-election charges. The charges stem from Gutierrez using attorney general staff, equipment, and time to operate his private MTB Construction business from accepting money from Mr. Dann’s campaign and inaugural accounts for rent on his private residence, and accepting committee funds to pay for window and bathroom renovations in Mr. Dann’s private residence.



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