Ex-Hamilton principal’s request for drug treatment denied

Judge denies Kevin Kernohan treatment instead of drug conviction.

A Butler County judge has denied former Hamilton Schools assistant principal Kevin Kernohan’s request for treatment in lieu of conviction on a drug abuse charge.

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Kernohan, 42, of Monroe, who is free on his own recognizance bond, was charged with the fifth-degree felony after a school resource officer searched Kernohan’s office at Brookwood Elementary and found “a white crystal like substance” that tested positive as crystal methamphetamine “inside the middle right hand drawer” of a desk, according to court documents.

Kernohan told Hamilton police he used “meth” with a person he lent his vehicle, and that vehicle was later involved in a burglary and arson, according to court documents.

That admission led to a felony drug charge against Kernohan, according to documents obtained by the Journal-News. He turned himself in to police on May 11 and then was booked and released.

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Kernohan was placed on leave then resigned from his $68,368-a-year job.

The case was directly sent to a Butler County grand jury a couple months ago by Hamilton Municipal Court Judge Dan Gattermeyer. But the case has not been presented to a grand jury; instead, Kernohan’s attorney Matthew Fritsch waived his right to an indictment and filed a motion for “intervention in lieu of conviction.”

“The defendant is willing to comply with all terms and conditions imposed by this court, including compliance with intervention plan requiring defendant to abstain from the case use of illegal drugs and alcohol and to submit to random testing for use of those substances and may include other treatment terms and conditions or terms and conditions similar to community control sanctions,” Fritsch wrote in the motion.

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If the judge had granted the motion, the charge against Kernohan would be dismissed after completion of court-ordered programs.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Kernohan was entitled to the motion because he has not previously been convicted of a felony and has not previously been granted intervention in lieu of conviction, so the prosecution cannot object under previsions of law.

During a hearing Monday, Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Brad Burress pointed out to Judge Michael Oster that Kernohan was in possession of drugs in a school.

Before denying the motion, Oster praised Kernohan for taking “proactive” steps to get treatment, but noted the seriousness of the charge that took place in a school.

Kernohan is scheduled to be back in court on Oct. 22 for a plea or to set the case for trial.

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