TIFFIN - During a short break in Fostoria police Chief John McGuire's criminal trial yesterday, a former police sergeant took Mr. McGuire's place in the defendant's seat and pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors stemming from misconduct on the job.
Scott Miller, 40, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted unauthorized use of a law enforcement database and two counts of dereliction of duty for using the police department's computer to check for warrants on a woman he'd had an ongoing sexual relationship with and for failing to arrest her on those warrants on two occasions.
As part of Mr. Miller's plea, he agreed to cooperate with state investigators looking into unspecified matters involving other Fostoria city employees and testify in any resulting criminal cases. Prosecutors agreed to drop two additional counts of dereliction of duty.
"The reason we did this is Scott Miller is important for purposes of [the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation] to complete their ongoing investigation plus we ensured that he will never be a police officer again," Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert said afterward.
Common Pleas Judge Michael Kelbley accepted the guilty pleas, then placed Mr. Miller on unsupervised probation for two years and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines, perform 100 hours of community service, surrender his Ohio Peace Officer Training certificate, and agree to a permanent revocation of that certificate.
Miller, who joined the police department in 1993, resigned in March after Chief McGuire recommended that he be fired. He became the fourth Fostoria police officer to face termination and resign in the last two years - one of the factors city officials testified yesterday in Mr. McGuire's trial made it important for them to hire the right person to lead the embattled department.
Mr. McGuire, 38, is charged with two counts each of falsification and tampering with records for allegedly misrepresenting his credentials when he applied for the job.
He allegedly misstated his rank, salary, and even the kind of employer he worked for, in some cases.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, who served on a search committee for the new chief, spent more than two hours on the stand discussing his concerns over learning that a number of items on Mr. McGuire's resume and application were not what they appeared.
He said he was particularly distressed that "Cleveland Police - Municipal School District, Division of Safety and Security" where Mr. McGuire was employed at the time was actually a private security firm, not a police agency certified by the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission. Had he known, he said, "I absolutely would not have moved on that application. He was not a full-time police officer applying for this position. It's that simple."
Safety-Service Director Bill Rains and Mayor John Davoli, who took the stand for the defense yesterday, said they had focused less on what Mr. McGuire had done and more on what he could do for their city.
Mr. Rains, who sat on the search committee and recommended the mayor hire Mr. McGuire, said he was looking for a candidate with leadership skills, and that is not necessarily reflected by the rank one attains. He admitted he didn't read every word of Mr. McGuire's resume and application.
"I remember vaguely going through this stack of resumes and coming up with a list of people we were going to talk to," Mr. Rains said. "We talked about things we wanted in this department, and how were you going to make this happen?"
The mayor said he was impressed by Mr. McGuire and trusted the committee to have sorted through his job experience and qualifications. "I let those folks handle that," he said.
Mayor Davoli said Fostoria needed a leader to get its police department back on track after years of internal problems. He said the search committee knew the city wanted a take-charge person.
"They didn't look at the resume. They looked at the man," he said.
Mr. McGuire is expected to take the stand when his trial resumes this morning.
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