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City asks for re-opening of investigation of former police officer

5/15/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On May 6, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and City Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) asked the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Steven Dettelbach, to reopen his office’s investigative file on former Akron Police Officer Donald Schismenos and review all of the recordings and documents made by Schismenos.

The request included that Dettlebach’s office review all the recordings and documents maintained at the Akron Police Department (APD), as well as those found at Schismenos’ home during the execution of a search warrant by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (OBCI).

In their letter, Plusquellic and Moneypenny noted that “the vast majority of police officers in the city of Akron have been and are now honest, hard-working officers dedicated to serving the citizens of Akron.” They further stressed that on the occasions when officers have acted improperly or illegally, the APD has acted to remove those officers.

In this instance, Schismenos placed massive numbers of recordings on his city of Akron computer, according to a city press release, which added it is unknown whether any of his co-workers or supervisors had any knowledge of the recordings. Questions have been raised concerning whether he gave the recordings to prosecutors on cases as he was required to do, according to the press release.

Immediately after learning of Schismenos’ improper activities, the city involved the FBI, OBCI and the Summit County prosecutor, according to city officials. As early as July 2011, APD Chief James Nice referred the matter for investigation to Todd Wickerham, who supervised the Akron office of the FBI at that time. Nice asked that the FBI investigate and refer any charges to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio for prosecution of a police officer who had secretly videotaped his activities, including several incidents which might have revealed potential civil rights violations, according to city officials.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not bring any charges against Schismenos at that time. The city is unaware of the extent of the investigation, according to the press release. The OBCI also investigated Schismenos’ actions and executed a search warrant, in which more recordings were found at the officer’s home. OBCI conducted a lengthy investigation, which has since concluded. Schismenos entered into an agreement with the city and resigned in December 2013, according to city officials.

On May 9, after learning that Dettlebach agreed to reopen the investigations, Plusquellic issued the following statement: “I am appreciative that the United States Attorney has decided to review and further investigate Schismenos’ file. This is exactly what Chief Nice asked for originally, and this review should relieve all concerns or doubt the public may still have regarding this matter.”

Added Moneypenny, a former law enforcement officer, “Chief Nice acted swiftly to order this investigation from the get-go. I am glad it is getting another much needed review from the United States Attorney. Hopefully this review will bring resolution to this matter for everyone involved.”

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