Tension between the Miami County prosecutor and a local attorney whose offices were searched by law enforcement earlier this month escalated this week when the lawyer asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor to the case.
Attorney Christopher Bucio’s lawyer Ian Friedman of Cleveland asked Miami County Judge Christopher Gee to prohibit the county prosecutor’s office from investigating the pending case against Bucio because of an alleged conflict of interest. The office is led by Prosecutor Anthony “Tony” Kendell.
The requests are part of civil action filed Tuesday against Kendell in Miami County Common Pleas Court.
“I have absolutely no conflict,” Kendell said Wednesday. He said there is no need, and no plans, to request a special prosecutor.
Friedman also asked the court to issue injunctions barring prosecutors from reading, inspecting and copying contents of electronic files of clients seized in the search. Authorities searched the offices in Troy, Tipp City and Sidney of the firm Roberts, Kelly, Bucio of which Bucio is a partner on Sept. 9.
Bucio’s lawyers claim the files are protected legally from review and were seized beyond the scope of files requested in search warrants.
Kendell said the files seized are in the hands of a special master he has appointed to review the documents. “We have not looked at any of these files. Law enforcement, nobody has looked at these files,” he said. “The special master is a disinterested person and unbiased.” Kendell would not identify the special master but said he is from Montgomery County.
Bucio and Kendell most recently squared off in the murder trial of Patrick McGail of Troy.
Bucio’s complaint claims Kendell “is attempting to preserve the conviction” of McGail “by commencing an investigation against Bucio in an attempt to undermine - or in retaliation for his filing - a motion to reconsider and/or the motion for a mistrial.”
Kendell said there is no connection between the investigation and the motions. “Whatever he’s filed subsequent to the McGail trial has nothing to do with the investigation going on and, to say otherwise, is just absurd,” Kendell said.
McGail, 18, of Troy was convicted Aug. 14 by a Miami County jury of murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary with firearms specifications in the Oct. 30, 2013, death of Nathan Wintrow, 20, during a home invasion in Troy. Two co-defendants pleaded in the case.
In late August, Bucio filed a motion for mistrial claiming juror misconduct. The motion was denied by Gee, followed by a motion for reconsideration by Bucio. Gee on Tuesday denied the motion for reconsideration.
Bucio last week filed a motion seeking to delay McGail’s sentencing. He claimed that case file and others were seized in the search and he cannot adequately prepare for McGail’s sentencing scheduled Sept. 29. Gee will hold a hearing on the motion to continue sentencing Tuesday.
In the court actions, Bucio’s lawyers outline a series of alleged actions following the McGail verdict as follows:
- Aug. 28: Bucio files motion for mistrial claiming juror misconduct. Motion denied Sept. 3, motion to reconsider filed Sept. 5. (Motion overruling request to reconsider filed Sept. 16).
- Aug. 28: Bucio learns former associate attorney in firm allegedly illegally accessed/used firm money. Firm reports alleged theft to Troy Police Department. A police report was filed Sept. 5 by a Troy detective. Firm claims it understood investigation would continue and case would be prosecuted by county prosecutor’s office.
- Sept. 9: Kendell obtains search warrant and police seize entire McGail file along with Bucio and a paralegal’s computers. Bucio’s lawyers claim the former law firm associate was interviewed by law enforcement “in an effort to obtain information to be used against Bucio, RKB (Roberts Kelly Bucio) and/or McGail.”
Charges have not been filed against the former associate.
Bucio opened his law office in Troy in 2004. The firm’s web site says it now has six offices in Tipp City, Troy, Sidney, Bellefontaine, Greenville and Lima.