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14 public officials reprimanded by the Ohio Ethics Commission

Wright State University Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Bridges was one of 14 public officials from across Ohio to receive a public reprimand from the Ohio Ethics Commission last year.

These reprimands are part of settlement agreements officials can enter into — sometimes without admitting guilt, as in Bridges’ case — to close the investigation without any recommendation that charges be filed.

Using Ohio public records laws, the I-Team acquired settlement agreements for all of these cases. Descriptions and links to the full settlement agreements are below.

Michael Bridges, chairman of the Wright State University board of trustees, improperly forwarded his son’s resume to the director of WSU’s applied research division and offered to set up interview times for his son. Bridges agreed to accept a public reprimand. Read the settlement agreement here.

Jim Wirtley, board member for the Edgewood City School District (Butler County) signed three employment contracts and voted to approve the non-renewal of his wife’s contract as a substitute teacher, the Ethics Commission found. His wife Karen Wirtley was paid $106,273 from 2010 though 2015, according to the settlement agreement, including through employment contracts signed b y Jim Wirtley as president of the board in 2014 and 2015. Wirtley agreed to a public reprimand. Read the settlement agreement here.

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Don Ellington, Newark City Council member (Licking County) was reprimanded and pay $6,167 in restitution after the Ethics Commission found he improperly received realty commission for selling properties that received grant funding from the city. Read the settlement agreement here.

Glen Blakeney, council member for the village of Boston Heights (Summit County), voted on an ordinance to run new water mains and hook-ups to residences on selected streets that affected his own property, the Ethics Commission found. Blakeney agreed to a public reprimand. Read the settlement agreement here.

Robert Bartko, council member at the village of Boston Heights (Summit County), also voted on an ordinance to run new water mains and hook-ups to residences on selected streets that affected his own property, the Ethics Commission found. Bartko also agreed to a public reprimand. Read the settlement agreement here.

Mike Logan, city councilman in Circleville (Pickaway County) participated in rezoning a piece of property to be sold by his real estate client, the Ethics Commission found. Logan agreed to a public reprimand, and to donate to charity the commission he earned on the real estate, minus taxes already paid. Read the settlement agreement here.

Caryl Lecznar, council member for the city of Seven Hills (Cuyahoga County) participated in discussion and voted on an ordinance to increase the salary range of her husband, the city fire prevention officer. Lecznar agreed to pay $2,112 in restitution – equal to the now-rescinded pay raise – and agreed to a public reprimand. Lecznar is no longer on the city council. Read the settlement agreement here.

Larry Mavis, a Farmer Twp. trustee (Defiance County) participated in matters related to his son’s appointment as a fellow Farmer Twp. trustee, the Ethics Commission found. Larry Mavis agreed to a public reprimand. His son, Aaron Mavis, ran for election in November and lost. Read the settlement agreement here.

James Zimomra, Ohio Lottery Commission Investigator accepted and used $402 in free food vouchers from the Hard Rock Rocksino, the Ethics Commission found. Zimomra stopped gambling at the Rocksino after taking the job, as required by his employment contract, and received the vouchers as a promotion to players who stop frequenting their facilities. He had permission from his supervisor to use the vouchers. Zimomra agreed to a public reprimand and to reimburse the Rocksino $402. Read the settlement agreement here.

John O’Hara, board member for the Twin City Water and Sewer District (Tuscarawas County) voted to approve changes to insurance benefits, raises and overtime approvals for his wife, a district employee. He agreed to a public reprimand. Read the settlement agreement here.

James Ong, board member for the Twin City Water and Sewer District (Tuscarawas County) voted to approve bills from his law firm, which was paid $82,162 by the district for legal work from November 2005 to March 2014 while he was on the board, the Ethics Commission found. Investigators found paying a board member for legal work was a long-standing practice, and Ong began working pro bono when the practice was challenged during a state audit in March 2014. Ong agreed to resign from the district. Read the settlement agreement here.

Matthew Weekley, a sergeant with the Columbus Police Department, had a side job with TASER International and participated in contract awards to his other employer with the police department, the Ethics Commission found. Weekley worked as a TASER International as an instructor, paid $8,750 in fees and $5,906 in travel, meals and lodging from 2010 through 2015, investigators found. Starting in 2012, his responsibiliites with Columbus police included ordering TASERs, TASER cartridges and accessories. Weekley was ordered to cease employment with TASER in 2013 but continued working for the company until October 2015, according to the settlement agreement. The Ethics Commission found Weekley accepted a substantial thing of value from a police department vendor. The Columbus Police Department recommended Weekley be suspended without pay for 240 hours. Weekley agreed to accept a public reprimand and to now appeal his suspension. Read the settlement agreement here.

Randy Altenburger, former Ottoville Village Council member (Putnam County), provided insurance services to the village while serving as a councilmember, the Ethics Commission found. Randy Altenburger Insurance Agency had been selling insurance to the village since 1972, the commission found, and didn’t cease after Altenberuger was appointed in 2004 and re-elected in 2007 and 2011. As part of a settlement agreement, Altenburger agreed to a public reprimand and to resign from the council and not seek re-election. Further, his company can be hired back as the village insurance agent only if it wins after a competitive bid. Read the settlement agreement here. Read the settlement agreement here.

Donald Kuchta, former mayor of the city of Macedonia (Summit County), directed city staff to place his home on the list for free snow-plowing and garbage pick-up for low-income seniors, the Ethics Commission found. The total value of these services was $525, according to investigators. Kuchta agreed to a public reprimand. Read the settlement agreement here.

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