Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Attorney for indicted Wildlife Division official defends client

The attorney handling one of the six indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials is baffled by the charges brought against his client.

Attorney Michael Cassity of Mount Orab in Brown County is representing James Lehman, the Wildlife Division’s law enforcement administrator, who has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Lehman is charged with one count of obstructing justice and one count of complicity of obstructing justice. Both are fifth-degree felonies.

The indictment against Lehman and five other Wildlife Division officials stems from an alleged incident in which the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - Allan Wright - was said to have allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address in order to obtain an Ohio hunting license on Nov. 5, 2006.

It is alleged that Lehman and four other high-ranking Wildlife Division officials should have handled the Wright incident differently as a criminal matter and not as an administrative matter that resulted in a verbal reprimand for Wright.

“What I’ve seen of the limited investigation I’ve been able to do would indicate there is no merit to these charges. I just don’t understand why the charges were brought. They’re talking about complicity; trying to break the law. At least my client was following what he believed was policy. Certainly when the (Ohio) Inspector General got involved there was total cooperation with my client. He participated in the Inspector General investigation and told them what he knew. He wasn’t out to hide anything,” Cassity said.

Cassity said too that the matter should be tossed out of Brown County Common Pleas Court for lack of evidence of guilt.

“I do; maybe even more than a possibility. But right now this case is in its infancy with a lot of information that has to be discovered by the defense. I don’t see, however, there is sufficient evidence to support these charges,” Cassity said.

Cassity said as well that when an attorney is experienced in criminal work he or she has a “pretty good sense of what the evidence might be about” and that sense points to a lot of nothing in this matter.

Similarly, Cassity says he is “extremely impressed” with Lehman.

“I’ve got pretty good instincts and my impression is that he is straight and plays by the rules. You know, it’s tough on him with more than 20 years with the Wildlife Division. He’s an honorable man. He was just doing his job the way he believed his job should be done,” Cassity said.

Cassity noted that he will appear before the Brown County Common Pleas Court next week along with Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little for a pre-trial hearing.
At this hearing - not normally attended by the defendant - a second pre-trial date may be set as well as possibly the actual trial date.

“I don’t expect a whole lot except whether there’s been an exchange of discovery, basically must be provided by the prosecutor, possibly Friday or Monday,” Cassity said.

Efforts are being made to contact the other attorneys representing the remaining defendants.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

1 comment:

  1. Apparently Mr. Cassity doesn't really know his client! Dishonorable, intimidating, and arrogant are the correct words that best describe his client! Mr. Lehman wouldn't know what is the truth, because he has been involved with spreading so many false accusations while holding his office as Law Administrator of the Division of Wildlife! Of course, he follows orders from the Chief of that Division! No one dares to even whisper a known illegal activity, which his fair-haired boy assigned to Brown County might be involved in. It is common knowledge that the Chief and Wright have a very close relationship. Their relationship is quite like "father and son!" In fact, Mr. Lehman cost the sportsmen of Ohio loads of money while utilizing the Department Aircraft flying to and fro to various states, trying to establish who "ratted" Allan Wright out! He also made trips to the five (5) Division of Wildlife Districts in attempt to find the dirty rat that was the confidential informant. State vehicle usage and fuel doesn't come free! Mr. Lehman could have easily spent the State's time doing the right investigation-blatant, intentional disregard for the natural resource laws that officer Wright raised his right hand and swore that he would uphold. Mr. Lehman being a member of the management team should know the policy better than anyone! He failed to follow that policy in this instance, but has in the past has followed it to a "T" on other officers, who aren't friends of the Chief! The Brown County Prosecutor, Mrs. Little has it right! The investigator with the Office of the Inspector General has it right and the original attorney for Mr. Lehman has it right! It is time that those involved in these crimes be held accountable!

    THE ICEMAN (Brown County Implant)