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Published: Wednesday, 3/13/2002

Ex-inspector may face fraud charge

A former Washington Township zoning inspector faces a possible fraud charge for allegedly filing a false police report about a residential break-in for which he received an insurance payment.

The case involving Tony Cochenour, 32, will be presented to a Lucas County grand jury this week, Washington Township Police Chief Chris Kaiser said.

He said Mr. Cochenour signed a confession last week.

Mr. Cochenour, who was fired from his zoning job for poor work performance in October, remains with the township road department and is a captain with the fire department.

He reported a break-in Aug. 26 at his home, 6153 Bahimar Dr., and received an insurance check for about $6,200, Chief Kaiser said yesterday.

Mr. Cochenour, who could not be reached for comment, told police that he left his home for about an hour that Sunday morning and returned to find a computer, three televisions, two VCRs, a stereo, and jewelry stolen.

There was no sign of forced entry and police were skeptical because the theft would have had to occur in just an hour, Chief Kaiser said.

During the investigation, police learned Mr. Cochenour was behind on his house payments and discovered he gave one of the computers he reported as stolen to a business for spare parts in November.

Police checked the hard drive and found information related to the Cochenour family, including a resume, e-mails, and hardship letters to credit-card companies, police said.

About three weeks prior to the alleged break-in, Mr. Cochenour received a written reprimand from the trustees about his work performance.

Trustees noted his failure to file an incident report to Columbia Gas within 24 hours for a damaged gas line at 2565 Redfox Dr. during the placement of a stop sign in July, 2000.

As zoning inspector, Mr. Cochenour in June approved a 52-inch privacy fence that was 10 inches taller than the zoning regulations permit. Sean Oehlers, who built the fence, and the township are working out an agreement to remove and replace the fence, which would cost $2,100.

Mr. Cochenour received a warning about his work performance about a month before the trustees voted unanimously to fire him.

Mr. Cochenour has been on leave from the fire department for several days and was not on the schedule for the road department this week, Trustee Barbara Shaheen said.

She said the township will discuss Mr. Cochenour's employment status after talking with the township's attorneys.

“We should get advice from on legal counsel on this and we'll act accordingly,” she said. “We can't do anything without legal counsel.”



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