Troopergate Trickles Into Radioactive Phase, Kent Markus Put on Suicide Watch
From Reginald Fields in The Plain Dealer:
State Highway Patrol officers testify that sting operation was called off to avoid embarrassing governor
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three high-ranking Highway Patrol officials on Wednesday accused Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration of blocking an undercover operation at the governor’s mansion in January to protect Strickland from political embarrassment.
The administration immediately responded, saying patrol detectives still today have no idea what they were even investigating that weekend so the operation was killed to protect the governor and the officers.
Patrol officers were about to execute what they assumed was a drug bust outside the governor’s suburban-Columbus home Jan. 10 while Strickland hosted a dinner party inside. Instead they were told to drop their sting and warn their suspect not to go through with her plan.
“We were told that we should try to warn the suspect. That it would be better to try to prevent a crime,” said Maj. Robert Booker, who retired in February.
Booker said patrol superintendent Col. David Dicken ordered the sting stopped “because it is the governor’s residence and we have to keep this quiet.”
Prison officials had intercepted a letter in which an inmate, allowed to work a special detail at the Democratic governor’s mansion, had asked his wife to drop off a “six pack” at the back of the mansion.
“It was drugs. No doubt,” Booker said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the incident. He added that in 33 years with the patrol, “I’ve never seen this kind of interference with a criminal investigation.”[...]
Sen. Tim Grendell, a Republican who chairs the committee hosting the hearings, is not convinced. He believes it was drugs and at the very least the patrol should have been allowed to do its job rather than worry about the governor’s image.
“Politics has taken precedence over public safety,” Grendell said after the hearing. “I’m just flabbergasted by the steps made to ward off a criminal investigation.”
Grendell read an e-mail written by Collins-Taylor to the former prison director two days before the sting saying she was concerned about the “embarrassment to the boss.”
And from Randy Ludlow in The Columbus Dispatch:
In their decades of investigating crimes, State Highway Patrol Maj. Robert Booker and Capt. Michelle Henderson said they never had been summoned to such a meeting.
They said they never before had to defend their jurisdiction to investigate a criminal case under questioning from lawyers to an Ohio governor.
Markus met with the patrol investigators after a lobbyist close to Strickland met with the lawyer on behalf of the company under criminal investigation. Both the governor’s office and lobbyist Thomas Fries Sr. said no favors were asked or granted.
That changed on Sept. 10, 2008, when the top two lawyers to Gov. Ted Strickland and the Department of Public Safety’s chief legal counsel met with patrol investigators about a pending criminal case.
Kent Markus, the governor’s chief legal counsel; his No. 2, Jose Torres, and public-safety lawyer Joshua Engel said they had legitimate concerns about whether the patrol had authority to investigate and might be sued.
The lawyers also questioned the use of search warrants and discussed the desire for a patrol policy to notify state agency directors of the planned questioning of any of their employees by patrol investigators, Booker said.
Booker, who retired last month, testified today before the Ohio Senate Judiciary-Criminal Justice Committee, saying he ended his career asking himself: “Why do we have to get permission to do our job?”
Strickland’s office has said the inquiries by Markus, Torres and Engel were appropriate and did not constitute interference because the investigation – which still has not been resolved – proceeded.
The case involved the submission of alleged falsified documents to cover up the use of underpaid illegal immigrants to remodel a state-leased office building at 770 W. Broad St. for use as the state prison system’s headquarters.
The Governor’s office should have no ability to stop such an investigation, and now that they are being exposed- the coverup is looking worse than the crime. This is a seriously bad news for Governor Strickland, and I cannot wait to see what details to the Inspector General come out with next month.
- TrooperGate Update: A Pattern of Corruption at the Governor’s Residence & the Heat on Kent Markus Continues!
- Randy Ludlow Drops More Details on the Kent Markus/Strickland Drug Non-Sting Cover-up
- Ted Strickland’s Drug Non-Sting Cover Up & Kent Markus
- Ted Strickland’s Drug Sting Cover Up
- Kent Makrus told Ohio Public Safety Director Cathy Collins-Taylor about sting