University of Dayton Professor of Law Emeritus Thomas Hagel

UD law professor: ‘Other shoe to drop’ in Dayton corruption probe

University of Dayton Professor of Law Emeritus Thomas Hagel was struck when he heard the corruption indictments mostly involving current and former Dayton officials were “the first wave” of an ongoing investigation.

“I’m sure there’s people out there today who are waiting for the other shoe to drop and hoping it doesn’t drop on them,” Hagel said, adding that he was shocked. “You don’t often see this happen in a community this size, and especially to people who have been involved in public life for so long. It’s sad.”

Hagel said alleged government corruption is hard to prevent since there is an assumption of integrity and honesty.

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“As long as they go through a reasonable vetting process in terms of hiring people, there’s hardly any way of stopping crime once the employee for example – and at this point of course, they’re presumed innocent – but if an employee decides to go off track and commit these types of things, there’s not much that the city or county government can do other than, of course, supervision,” he said. “But I think you’re always going to have it. It’s just human nature, I suppose.”

Hagel has served on the Montgomery County Veterans’ Service Commission, which deals with contracts.

“It’s understood that people on the board who of course are going to have to vote on all that keep all that confidential,” he said. “It’s assumed. You take an oath of office that you’re not going to enrich yourself or violate any law. But it’s up to the individual.”

The professor said Dayton hiring a law firm to review contracting policies and procedures is proactive.

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“My guess is … that the city is sitting there saying, OK, we want to get ahead of this and let’s bring in a private law firm that’s not connected with the city … and say look at our hiring, our bid practices, our contracting practices, all of that, and see if there’s any weaknesses, see if it’s open for abuse.”

After quickly reviewing the four federal indictments, Hagel shook his head.

“We’re talking about serious time here,” he said. “When you’re talking about … (six) felonies with (RoShawn) Winburn, they’re coming down hard on this.”

Hagel said from his time as a public defender in federal court, he knows prosecutors are professional and do their homework. But the public won’t see their work until more information comes out.

“Right now, the dust hasn’t settled yet and where it’s going to settle is when that next group of indictments come down,” Hagel said. “My guess is (they) may not be related to all four cases, but I’ll bet you anything that a bunch of them will be related to one or two of these.”

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