Saying he had done his time, a Lucas County judge on Monday released retired Toledo police Lt. Frank Ramirez from prison two years before his four-year sentence for obstructing justice was to end.
“I can't ignore and I won't ignore [your] failing health and the recognition that the reality is that that will probably continue to spiral. ... I believe justice continues to be served by no longer having you institutionalized in the penitentiary, but to bring you back here to our community,” Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda told Ramirez, 61.
Ramirez, who had a 31-year career with Toledo police, was convicted at trial in 2016 of felony charges of obstructing justice and tampering with evidence and a misdemeanor count of discharge of a firearm over a roadway.
Judge Zmuda ordered Ramirez to spend the first 120 days at his Tetherwood Drive home on electronic monitoring. He placed him on community control for three years, ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service, undergo a psychiatric examination, and allow his probation officer access to his medical information.
Defense attorney Jon Richardson told the court Ramirez had been hospitalized twice in the last year for heart-related issues.
“When you're over 60, locked away from your family, experiencing heart issues, you measure time differently and you start to wonder not when I'm going to see my family but if I'm going to see my family,” Mr. Richardson said.
Ramirez apologized to the court and anyone hurt by his actions. He said he'd spent his time in prison considering Judge Zmuda's words to him at sentencing, that he was a public servant who had violated the public's trust.
Ramirez's conviction stemmed from what the court called a misguided attempt at vigilante justice. Ramirez had tipped off Maytee Vazquez-Clarke to the time and location where she could find Tiffany Williams, a woman who Vazquez-Clarke was convinced knew more about the 2011 murder of her son, Johnny Clarke, 21, than what she was telling.
Vazquez-Clarke relayed the information from Ramirez to her husband, John Clarke, who went to the location and fired at Williams. She was not injured.
Vazquez-Clarke entered an Alford plea — not admitting guilt — and was found guilty of retaliation. Judge Zmuda sentenced her to two years in prison but granted her an early release after she spent just nine months in prison.
John Clarke is serving a four-year sentence for felonious assault with a firearm specification.
Micah Ault, an assistant attorney general who helped prosecute the case against Ramirez and the Clarkes, opposed Ramirez's motion for judicial release, citing his former position of trust as a law enforcement officer.
Judge Zmuda said he sent Ramirez to prison in 2016 knowing penitentiaries are a rough place for police officers. He pointed out that Ramirez had only one minor infraction in prison when he wasn't feeling well and didn't attend a mandatory training session.
“To the extent that you're able to survive for two years and really have no real incidents — meaning no engagement with other prisoners — is a reflection of your ability to keep your nose clean,” the judge said.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.