Thursday, March 1, 2012

Inspector General finds wrong-doing by another ODW officer

Another Ohio Division of Wildlife officer was investigated last year by the Ohio Inspector General, this time for the alleged confiscation and destruction of “...deer antlers unlawfully (taken) from an individual who had legally obtained them.”

The matter is referred to in the just-released Ohio Inspector General’s 2011 Annual Report.

In the summary of its Wildlife Division investigation, the Ohio Inspector General says that on Nov. 24, 2009, Guernsey County resident Jeffrey Schultice was archery hunting on his property when he encountered the remains of a badly decomposed 11-point.

Leaving the carcass where it lay, the report says, Schultice made telephone calls to Wildlife Division officers Brad St. Clair and Roby Williams, neither of whom returned his calls.

Only after Schultice contacted the agency’s Southeast Ohio District Office, complaining that he had not been contacted did St. Clair respond, the Ohio Inspector General’s report says.

At that point St. Clair contacted Schultice who was informed that issuing a receipt for the deer antlers was a low priority and that it could take weeks to process.

Schultice then called the Guernsey County Sheriff’s office which ultimately issued a Wildlife Division deer carcass receipt, the Inspector General’s investigative report says.

Two days later, the report also says, St. Clair told Schultice that he wanted to see the antlers. Upon visiting Schultice at his home, the investigative report says, St. Clair expressed his doubts as to how the antler set was obtained.

St Clair then proceeded to confiscate the set of antlers.

The Ohio Inspector General’s report further goes on to say that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources “...had no record of the antlers being logged in as evidence or recovered property, and there was no official record of destruction or disposition of the antlers, as required by department policy.”

Even so, says the report, a hand receipt indicated that the antlers were destroyed on Dec. 23, 2009.

“Additionally, the 2009 property seized/forfeited form by Officer St. Clair did not list the antlers he (had) seized from Schultice.”

“Our investigation found that the Ohio Division of Wildlife Officer Brad St. Clair, without cause, improperly confiscated and disposed of legally obtained property and failed to record the seizure and destruction of property on the annual report as required by department policy...”

The final notation in the Ohio Inspector General’s 2011 Annual Report indicated that Schultice filed a complaint with the Court of Claims of Ohio for the antlers.

He ultimately accepted a $5,000 settlement agreement with the Natural Resources Department, the report says in conclusion.

Wildlife Division chief Scott Zody also indicated in an email sent to him that St. Clair “received a written reprimand.”

“A verbal or written reprimand remains ‘on record’ for one year...Officer St. Clair was disciplined last year, so it would still be active,” Zody said as well.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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