One Official Charged, Three Others Face Investigation Over Falsified Meeting Minutes In Richland County
Accusations of dishonesty and corruption hang over a local township.
One official has already been charged, and prosecutors say before it's done, all three township trustees could face charges.
Investigators say it's all over a convoluted plot to help a disgraced officer keep his badge.
Craig Stover was once a police officer for the Richland County community of Shelby.
A look at his personnel file shows why that's no longer the case. A performance evaluation from 2010 says he "accomplishes little," "cannot be relied upon to complete work," and "seems to have lost all interest in the job."
He was fired in September 2012.
Despite an apparent lack of interest in his job, prosecutors say Stover went to great lengths to hold onto his badge.
Stover was also employed as a Zoning Inspector and Constable for Jackson Township.
He's accused of creating phony document- minutes from a January trustees’ meeting where they voted unanimously to establish a Township Police Department, granting Stover full authority as an Ohio Police Officer.
The problem is, that never actually happened.
The Richland County Prosecutor's office says Stover falsified the minutes and had the trustees sign them so he could present the minutes to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. They say his certification as an Ohio peace officer was about to expire, and he was trying to stop it.
Larry Diebley is one of the trustees who signed those meeting minutes. He told 10TV he did not knowingly sign fictitious minutes. Asked why he signed them, he replied, “(Stover) said this is going to correct our problem. He was wanting to be a constable."
Stover has been charged with Forgery and Tampering with Records, both felonies. Prosecutors say all three trustees could also face charges.
10TV asked Diebley what he was thinking when he signed the minutes. “That (Stover) knew what he was doing,” he answered. “And we didn't look at it. We just...you know...that was our fault.”
So what does Stover say? Right now, not much.
"I can't comment at all until after, but I'd love to, once we finish up here,” he said, adding that he has pleaded “not guilty.”
Stover is also charged with misusing the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway.
Prosecutors say while he was still a Shelby Police Officer, he illegally accessed the state crime database for personal use hundreds of times.
His trial is set for June. If convicted, he faces up 5 years in prison.