Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hearings continue for indicted six Wildlife Division officials

While hearings were held today for five indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials one other is scheduled for Thursday.

Having at least their first pre-trail hearings in Brown County Common Pleas Court Wednesday were assistant Wildlife Division chief Randy Miller, Wildlife Division District 5 (Southwest Ohio manager Todd Haines, the Wildlife Division's human resources manager Michele Ward-Tackett, the Wildlife Division's law enforcement administrator James Lehman, and the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County Allan Wright.

Brown County Clerk of Courts' on-line court document service says also that Lehman has a second hearing set for 9 a.m., April 28.

Also, Wildlife Division chief David Graham has a hearing set for 8 a.m., Thursday.

At issue is an alleged incident in which Wright was said to have allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address in order to obtain an Ohio hunting license.

Wright is charged with two counts of tampering with records (third-degree felonies) and one count of falsification for allegedly altering official Natural Resources records (a first-degree misdemeanor).

Also charged with one count of obstructing justice and one count of complicity to obstructing justice were the other Wildlife Division officials. These are fifth-degree felonies.

It is alleged that these officials should have handled the Wright case differently and investigated it as a criminal matter and not as an administrative matter that resulted in a verbal reprimand for Wright.

In a related matter, Wildlife Division acting chief Jim Marshall said a temporary replacement has been made for Ward-Tackett's position. Filling in on a temporary basis is Sue Johnson who retired from the Natural Resources' Human Resources group in 2004. Johnson had continued to work with the

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischkorn@News-Herald.com

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