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West Side Police News & Notes

5/22/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Summit County prosecutor completes Schismenos review

SUMMIT COUNTY — Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced May 16 the conclusion of a review into the possible connection between felony and juvenile cases and the recordings found on former Akron Police Officer Donald Schismenos’ work computer and in his home.

After the 2011 review of these recordings was questioned, Walsh requested the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) provide a summary of its probe.

BCI provided summaries of the 241 computer file folders found on the city of Akron’s server and in Schismenos’ home and of VHS tapes from Schismenos’ home. Of those recordings:

  • 50 contained personal videos of Schismenos and his family;
  • 56 contained information pertaining to routine police work unrelated to a criminal prosecution;
  • eight were related to Schismenos’ personal legal matters;
  • seven contained footage of news shows;
  • two contained nude/pornographic images not related to any case;
  • three were unplayable or empty;
  • one contained a video of a courtroom proceeding in the Federal Court Building in Akron, which has been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office; and
  • 114 identified individuals who might have been prosecuted. Walsh’s office conducted a further review to determine whether there was any connection to a felony case handled by the office.

After reviewing the 114 summaries potentially connected to criminal cases, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office identified 20 felony cases and one juvenile case connected to Schismenos’ recordings. The office also identified connections to 18 possible misdemeanor cases, which were referred to the Akron Law Department for further review. The remaining 75 summaries involved uncharged individuals and other recordings that did not pertain to criminal cases.

After review, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office found that, in 11 of the cases, the recordings were either previously provided to defense counsel or were unrelated to the charges against the defendants. The office is sending copies of recordings to the defense counsel (or defendant because his attorney is deceased) for the remaining 10 cases.

“Assistant prosecutors in my office conducted a review of the information provided by BCI, the affected case files and the recordings potentially connected to those cases,” said Walsh in a press release. “If there was any question whether relevant recordings were originally provided to defense counsel, we have mailed them copies. Ironically, many of those recordings would have been beneficial to the prosecution, and I wish my office had received them while the cases were pending.”


Patrol warns motorists to wear safety belts

COLUMBUS — The 2014 national Click It or Ticket safety belt enforcement mobilization kicked off May 19.

In addition, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) will join forces with members of the 6-State Trooper Project for a multi-state enforcement effort through May 26 that will also focus on safety belts throughout Ohio and surrounding states.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,335 vehicle occupants who died in 2012 were not wearing their safety belts at the time of the crash, noted OSHP officials. Last year in Ohio, 59 percent of the people killed were not wearing a safety restraint.

“Too many drivers and passengers are not wearing their safety belts, and it all too often ends in tragedy,” said Patrol Superintendent Col. Paul Pride in a press release. “It doesn’t matter which state you’re driving in — I want you to get home safely.”

More than 900 law enforcement partners around Ohio will be enforcing the law during the Click It or Ticket mobilization through June 1.

The Ohio Traffic Safety Office is partnering with the OSHP and sheriff’s offices and local law enforcement agencies of Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Tuscarawas, Guernsey, Noble and Washington counties for “Lake to the River.” Officers from every agency along the Interstate 77 corridor from Lake Erie to the Ohio River will be enforcing seatbelt laws.

Law enforcement and other safety partners will be holding awareness events and educational activities around the state to stress the importance of safety belt use during the mobilization.

The OSHP said that, in 2012, safety belts saved an estimated 12,174 lives nationwide. While this year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs through June 1, troopers will continue their zero-tolerance policy year-round when motorists are stopped for other violations and are found to not be wearing their safety belts, according to OSHP officials.


Agents encourage safe, mature decisions regarding alcohol consumption

COLUMBUS — During graduation season, agents with the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s (ODPS) Ohio Investigative Unit are urging parents and teens to make the wise and mature decision not to participate in illegal and dangerous behavior, such as providing alcohol to minors and consuming underage.

“Far too often, parents believe they will have a party to provide a safe environment for their child and some of his/her friends,” said Agent-in-Charge Eric Wolf in a press release. “However, even if parents have taken ‘every safety precaution,’ it is often not enough and an incident or a tragedy occurs. We are asking these families to rethink their decision and not participate.”

To help foster good choices, parents and teens need to understand Ohio’s underage drinking laws, according to ODPS officials:

  • It is illegal to provide a place for your child and his or her friends to drink in a “safe” environment. In fact, parents may not provide alcohol to youths who are younger than 21, who are not their own, even with the other parents’ permission. Those convicted of providing alcohol to a person younger than 21 face maximum sentences of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
  • It is illegal to purchase alcohol for anyone younger than 21. Anyone who purchases, sells or gives alcoholic beverages to underage individuals faces a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
  • Arrests can be made of those who are younger than 21 and are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent or higher, a level that can be reached after just one or two drinks, according to ODPS officials. Punishment is suspension of the driver’s license for at least 90 days and up to a maximum of two years, plus four points added to the driving record. Having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle also is illegal.  

Anyone with information about a bar, store or carryout selling alcohol to someone under 21, or those who have information of an underage house party are asked to notify the Ohio Investigative Unit by calling 677 on a cell phone.


Stephanie Kist contributed to these reports.

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