Monday, May 10, 2010

UPDATED Two other Wildlife Division officers under investigation

In an incident reminiscent of the situation now facing six Ohio Division of Wildlife officials, two other agency commissioned officers are facing their own investigation by the Ohio Inspector General’s office.

Arron Ireland - state wildlife officer assigned to Butler County - and Josh Zientek - state wildlife officer assigned to Huron County - were given verbal reprimands in 2008 for helping Indiana wildlife officers obtain Ohio resident fishing licenses in 2007.

Having discovered the two-incidents the Ohio Department of Natural Resources turned the case over to the OIG office for further review. This follows the path taken for six Wildlife Division defendants 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 five 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.

In the cases of Ireland and Zientek, they also were said to have allowed use of their home addresses, a stater official said.

“We went through the records and saw there were fishing licenses that may have been issued under similar circumstances (and which) occurred in 2007 with verbal reprimands presented in 2008,” said Natural Resources official Mike Shelton.

Typically, investigations of this sort are not made public but because the verbal reprimands are public record the Natural Resources Department choose to release the results and subsequent OIG work, Shelton said also.

New Natural Resources Department policy prohibits state agents from receiving complimentary licenses elsewhere or to aid out-of-state persons from obtaining resident hunting or fishing licenses, Shelton said as well.

“We will work with the OIG office in any way necessary,” he said also.
Zientek said he “trusts the system and has to let it work” but declined further comment.

Ireland declined to comment. Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles did not respond as of this Blog posting.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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