Police chief believes no crime committed regarding board president allegations


By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

The Franklin County prosecuting attorney’s office has referred the review of allegations of misconduct in office against Groveport Madison Board of Education President Bryan Shoemaker to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

“The Ohio Ethics Commission will do the investigation and if they conclude there is a violation they will do a referral to our office,” said Ron O’Brien, Franklin County prosecuting attorney.

Susan Willeke, education and communications administrator for the Ohio Ethics Commission, said that, according to state law, the OEC cannot confirm or deny receiving any allegations and it cannot confirm or deny if it is conducting an investigation.

Shoemaker issued a statement through his attorney responding to the allegations. According to attorney Patrick Pickett, “Isaac Wiles represents (Groveport  Madison Board of Education President) Bryan Shoemaker in relation to the misleading allegations that have been made against him. On Feb. 7, Mr. Shoemaker made a motion in the board of education meeting encouraging the board to consider self-reporting the allegations to law enforcement as he is confident a thorough investigation will clear his name. A vote was taken and as a result of Mr. Shoemaker’s motion, it is our understanding that the board has self-reported the allegations for further investigation. Mr. Shoemaker will allow law enforcement to conduct their review and will cooperate with them. He understands the public wants to know more about this matter and he will have more to say about all this after investigators have had their chance to talk with him.”

On Feb. 7, the Groveport Madison Board of Education forwarded a complaint by a citizen going by the name of Ray Crump, as well as public records requests made by Crump, to the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney for his review.

In a Jan. 31 email Crump sent to Shoemaker, which is included in the public records request information, Crump alleged Shoemaker abused his power as board president by: ordering school employees to do work on athletic fields for him in his capacity as an officer with youth and adult athletic leagues; and removing steel shelving from the district without the knowledge of the school board or district officials and paying for it after public records requests were made about the issue.

In the face of these allegations, Crump called on Shoemaker to resign as board president. In the email, Crump wrote that the next steps “without your resignation by Feb. 9, 2018” would be to send the collected information to school district officials, the Ohio Ethics Commission, and area newspapers.

In an email to the board and district officials dated Jan. 31 that was included in the public records request information, Shoemaker wrote, “I have zero intention in resigning.”

Attempts were made to contact Crump, but emails sent by the Southeast Messenger to the two email addresses Crump used to contact Groveport Madison officials bounced back with non-delivery messages stating one account does not exist and that the other email account has been disabled or discontinued. Other attempts by the Southeast Messenger to locate Crump have been unsuccessful thus far.

The Southeast Messenger also made attempts to find members of, and information about, the taxpayer watchdog group referenced by Crump, but none could be located at this time.

When asked if the school district had any other way of contacting Crump, Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said the district has “no other information on him other than his email address.”

In an email to Crump dated Feb. 1, Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner wrote that the district superintendent and treasurer did not know Shoemaker had arranged with the district’s maintenance department to obtain the surplus shelving. The letter notes Shoemaker made one payment to the district of $2,000 on Jan. 26 for the shelving purchase.

Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier confirmed he was contacted about the situation surrounding Shoemaker on Feb. 1 by former Groveport Madison Superintendent Bruce Hoover, who resigned for personal reasons effective Feb. 9.

Portier stated he reviewed information provided by Hoover regarding the allegations against Shoemaker on Feb. 2 and Feb. 5. Portier then wrote a letter in response to Hoover dated Feb. 5.

“There was and is no (police) report generated, as there is no criminal act since an agreement between the district and Mr. Shoemaker was made,” said Portier regarding the issue of the metal shelving.

In his letter to Hoover, Portier wrote, “Although the information provided ‘had’ criminal implications, i.e. the theft of the shelving, the acceptance of a check for $2,000 from Mr. Shoemaker to the Groveport Madison School District forces this issue to become civil.”

Portier noted that, according to the public records request, the district issued a verbal quote to Shoemaker for $2,000.

“This is an agreement, whether verbal or in writing, by and between the district and Mr. Shoemaker,” wrote Portier. “Based on the information provided, he kept his part of the agreement, regardless of when or why.”

In his letter, Portier continued, “Does this violate any ethics rules or laws? My answer is that the Ohio Ethics Commission should review the same information, the method of how Mr. Shoemaker obtained the shelves and if he used his position to obtain said shelving.”

Portier added, “Personal behavior of any person, regardless of their role in our community, is not necessarily a criminal act, but certainly bad or wrongful behavior can be construed by the voting public as someone who they may not vote for in the future.”

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