Judge denies allegations of employees’ misspent time

Published 12:54 pm Friday, October 7, 2016

ICC forwards information to AG’s office

Ironton Municipal Court Judge O. Clark Collins, Jr., is denying recent allegations that three of his employees campaigned for him and another political candidate while on the City of Ironton’s clock.

The allegations and a packet of documentation from an anonymous source were provided to City of Ironton officials this week, who forwarded them to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith said she sent the information to the AG’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

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“I did receive that package and we handed it off to the state BCI,” Keith said. “We’re awaiting their paperwork as to whether there are any infractions or violations.”

According to Ohio BCI spokesperson Dan Tierney, the matter was referred to other investigative agencies, but he would not say which ones, and had no further comment.

Ironton City Council members said they still felt, however, that proper action was taken in sending the information to the BCI.

“I believe it’s a city matter and the city has the right to know what our employees are doing and I believe it should be pursued,” Councilwoman Beth Rist said.

Councilman and vice mayor Craig Harvey agreed that sending the information off to the BCI was the right thing to do.

“Mayor (Katrina) Keith sent everything to the BCI, and I agree that’s the route to go,” he said. “I’m inclined to agree with whatever they recommend, and I’ll be supportive of that. If it’s a criminal matter, that’s not something the city council would take care of, but we’re happy to pass things along to the appropriate places, and that’s what we did.”

At an Ironton city finance committee meeting Thursday afternoon, Ironton City Councilman Kevin Waldo brought up the packet each council member received and said he wanted it to be investigated by the Ohio State Auditor as well.

“I’m concerned about the misuse of public funds,” he said, stating that the reason for him wanting the matter to be investigated further was not political. Waldo ran against Collins for municipal court judge in 2005. “If someone is employed by the city of Ironton and are doing things outside of those limits, it needs to be investigated.”

Ironton city finance director Kristen Martin said the packet was handed to BCI in a proper manner, but because they referred the matter elsewhere, the state auditor would not conduct an investigation.

Waldo replied and said he did not believe that was the case, but that a thorough investigation needs to be conducted by the proper entities.

A discussion on the matter was added to the Ironton City Council meeting agenda for next Thursday, where a formal request for the state auditor to conduct its own investigation may take place.

Judge Collins said the allegations are false and nothing more than a political attack. The judge also vowed to take action against the individuals who made them.

“None of the allegations are true,” Judge Collins said. “They are fabricated, and when we find out who made them, we’ll take action and sue.”

“My people took their own time, their own trucks and their own time off, and that’s it,” Judge Collins said. “All of it is based on lies for political gain. I’ll answer anything when we find out who is writing this, but it’s all political. That’s why no one has stepped up and taken credit for it.”