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Put-in-Bay's mayor, former fiscal officer indicted following corruption probe

Mayor's children also charged for votes while on village council

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    Put-in-Bay Mayor Bernard McCann

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    Investigators move boxes from Todd Blumensaadt's home at Put-in-Bay, on September 7, 2017.

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    Investigators outside of Todd Blumensaadt's home at Put-in-Bay on September 7, 2017.

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Put-in-Bay Mayor Bernard McCann

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PORT CLINTON — Put-in-Bay’s mayor and its former fiscal officer were indicted Thursday by an Ottawa County grand jury as part of a public corruption probe.

Mayor Bernard Mack McCann, 82, was indicted on two counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract — a fourth-degree felony — and four counts of misdemeanor conflict of interest, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. He’s accused of securing a waterline project for a business associate.

RELATED: Councilman, former president face corruption charges 

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Kelly A. Niese, 49, was indicted on third-degree felony theft in office, and fourth-degree felony grand theft. She is accused of taking village funds without council approval.

In September, 2017, agents from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Ethics Commission raided Put-in-Bay’s municipal building as well as property linked to Mayor McCann, village legal counsel George Wilber, and ferry service Jet Express owner Todd Blumensaadt as part of the public corruption investigation.

In a statement from his attorneys attributed to Mr. McCann, the mayor said Thursday the charges relate to contracts with construction firm Put-in-Bay Investments — a company owned by Mr. Blumensaadt — including a water line project on Victory Avenue and a manhole repair and installation project on Delaware Avenue.

In the statement, he said he has “no business interest in PIB Investments,” and said he only holds a promissory note from Mr. Blumensaadt from the 2008 sale of his ownership interest in Jet Express.

“What is clear is that there is no allegation that Mayor McCann personally benefits from work the village of Put-in-Bay authorized PIB Investments to perform,” the statement reads. “There is no allegation of a bribe, no allegation of a kickback, and no allegation of anything of value being provided to Mayor McCann in connection with the very necessary public repairs PIB Investments performed for the Village of Put-In-Bay.”

The indictments followed charges against two of Mr. McCann’s children, which were also part of the corruption investigation. 

Bernard Michael McCann, 54, and Melinda McCann Myers, 52, face multiple conflict of interest charges in Ottawa County Municipal Court after a joint investigation between BCI and the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Bernard Michael McCann — who is currently a councilman — is charged with two counts of using or authorizing the use of his public office to gain something of value, and two counts of soliciting or accepting something of value causing an improper influence on his duties. Ms. Myers’ faces three counts each of the same charges — all of which are misdemeanors.

Bernard Michael McCann’s charges are for conduct on Feb. 3, 2014, and May 2, 2016, while Ms. Myers’ counts list May 2 and 27, 2016 and a period between Oct. 12, 2015, and Sept. 12, 2016.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the mayor’s children are accused of voting on contracts where they had a personal interest, on contracts where family members had an interest, and on items that benefited their and family members’ businesses.

In a statement attributed to Michael McCann and Ms. Myers, they say their charges relate to council and planning commission actions regarding property related to themselves or family members.

“Both Melinda Myers and Michael McCann dispute and strongly disagree with the State’s characterization of their conduct while serving on Village Council,” their joint statement reads. “They await the opportunity to properly explain the appropriateness of their actions and defend against the allegations of misconduct.”

RELATED: Investigations nothing new for Put-in-Bay

The investigation was started after a complaint from Keith Blumensaadt, Todd Blumensaadt’s brother.

Jet Express was started in 1989 by four partners and is operated by majority owner Todd Blumensaadt.

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