Butler County creating new Veterans Treatment Court

Published: Saturday, November 26, 2016 @ 12:00 PM

The Butler County Common Pleas Court is about to expand its specialty dockets to include a new Veterans Treatment Court.

The emphasis on the court will be treatment and diversion, according to officials, and will connect veterans with services and a military support network that they may have lost when they returned to civilian life.

Butler County Common Please Court Judge Michael Oster Jr. has visited other local Veterans Treatment Courts, or VTCs, and said they are designed to break down barriers such as unemployment or under employment, homelessness, drug problems and other issues that may have contributed to veterans ending up on the wrong side of the law.

“We really want to make that camaraderie of bringing them together and not only the court holding them accountable, but themselves,” he said. “These are men and women who are disciplined … we want to add that (camaraderie) as well to really make them successful.”

The municipal judges in Hamilton and Middletown have been operating VTCs for several years.

Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall has been keeping statistics on his VTC since its inception in 2011 and those numbers show a 78 percent success rate overall, he said.

By far the biggest misdemeanor crime veterans committed was drunk driving (38 percent), he said. Domestic incidents involving substance abuse came in second with 34 cases, and there were 17 drug cases.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said the VTCs have had a great deal of success. The recidivism rate is what is key in any court case, and she said the VTCs appear to have that issue in check.

“The long term effect is what is important, where are they a year later, where are they two years later, is there a rate of recidivism…,” O’Connor said. “My understanding is the veterans courts have the lowest rate of recidivism amongst their population. I think it is a very worthwhile endeavor.”

The chief justice also told the Journal-News that veterans courts have produced not only veterans who don’t offend again, but people whose problems have been solved through all the various services they have received under the court’s supervision.

“By the time they get out they’ve got a high level of employment amongst their ranks, a stable living situation which they didn’t have, chances are when they came in there. Chances are they weren’t employed or they were marginally employed,” O’Connor said. “They have other indicators of stability.”

Wall said his veterans are hooked up with the Dayton VA, its social workers and myriad of services and the Butler County vet board. He said they are in the program for a year and the strict oversight the court provides is another success factor.

“Some of them are reporting back to me as soon as two weeks,” he said. “Then we can drop it off to a month and then six months…,” he said. “We keep bringing them back and they’ve got to verify they are in the program and they are doing what we recommend.”

For the county common pleas court to add a VTC, no additional funds are needed because adequate staffing is already in place. Unlike the other specialty courts, veterans don’t have to live in the county to get on the VTC docket, but they do have to have a felony case from the county.

Veterans who are already in the court system won’t be switched over, especially if they are already doing well under their current probation terms. But parole violators would likely move to Oster’s court.

“I don’t anticipate it being an overwhelming number (of veterans), but we’re not going to restrict it either,” said Rob Menke, manager of court administration. “We’re not going to say ‘we’re at capacity now so this veteran is not appropriate.’ We’re going to continue to offer services and if we need expansion with additional supervision officers or additional veterans justice outreach, maybe from the VA, maybe that’s something to look at.”

Butler County Court Administrator Wayne Gilkison said there are no leniency provisions in the program, and the veterans will be treated according to the law.

“It’ll be no different than any other offender that comes through,” he said. “They would be eligible (to have their felony record expunged) according to the time frames prescribed by Ohio Revised Court.”

Oster said he and the other common pleas judges felt this was a worthy cause.

“The reality is if we can’t make time to help our veterans then I don’t think there is really time for anything,” he said. “These are men and women who have given us the abilities and the freedoms to even have our jobs and our freedom and the liberties that we have. If we can’t make time to help them, then there’s something wrong.”

Child deaths in Fairfield, Hamilton investigated

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 10:20 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 11:45 AM

Child deaths in Fairfield, Hamilton investigated

Police in Hamilton and Fairfield are each conducting child death investigations today, the Journal-News has confirmed.

Hamilton police Sgt. Brian Robinson confirmed a child death investigation is underway but declined to provide more details.

Police were called to a home on North 6th Street early this morning.

The Butler County Coroner’s Office was also called to a child death investigation in Fairfield in the past 24 hours, Martin Schneider of the coroner’s office told the Journal-News.

Fairfield police said they are investing a child death at an apartment in the 1500 block of Gelhot Drive.

Police were called to the apartment at about 4:30 a.m. today about an unresponsive one-month-old baby.

The child was transported to Mercy Hospital-Fairfield, where he was pronounced dead, according to police.

WATCH: Dr. Phil's interview with Florida face biter released

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 11:24 AM


            WATCH: Dr. Phil's interview with Florida face biter released

A 20-minute video released by a Florida state attorney’s office shows accused face-biting killer Austin Harrouff conducting a video-chat interview from a hospital room on the “Dr. Phil Show.”

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In early parts of the video, Dr. Phil McGraw asks Harrouff, 20, if he is aware that he had made a shift in his thinking that was making people uncomfortable.

“Not really,” Harrouff said. “I was aware that I became more serious and things, but I wasn’t aware that I was pushing people away. I didn’t know it was affecting my relationship with my friends.”

They discuss the content of videos that Harrouff posted on YouTube, with Dr. Phil asking Harrouff whether he ever used steroids.

“Never,” Harrouff replied. “Never tried it once.”

The conversation shifts to theories that Harrouff might have used flakka, and Harrouff is asked if he knows what flakka is.

“Is it a crystal or something?” Harrouff asks. “I don’t know. My dad told me it was a crystal or something.”

Harrouff says he’s never taken flakka or seen the drug. He is asked whether anyone could have slipped the drug into his food or something he drank.

“I drank some tea at Duffy’s, so I was told,” Harrouff said. “I don’t think they would poison me or anybody would poison me. “

Harrouff emphasizes that those substances will not be found in his toxicology reports. He says that he has never seen or heard of bath salts.

The conversation then shifts to Harrouff leaving dinner at Duffy’s.

“When you left there, were you confused or were you thinking straight, in your opinion?” Dr. Phil asks.

“I don’t remember thinking at all,” Harrouff said. “It’s like a blur. I don’t think I was thinking straight.”

Harrouff walks Dr. Phil through the evening of Aug. 15 in Martin County, Florida. He tells Dr. Phil that he didn’t understand what was happening.

“At the end, I remember saving a dog and hijacking a car, and then it’s a blur,” Harrouff says. ”It’s like it happened, but, like, I wasn’t aware of it at the time ...I’m so sorry. It’s like a nightmare. I never wanted this to happen.”

Harrouff’s attorneys argued that the video shouldn’t be released before the trial. “Sensationalizing the details of this case pretrial does nothing to advance justice in the courtroom,” attorney Nellie King said.

Harrouff is charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 15 deaths of Michelle Mischon, 53, and her husband, John Stevens, 59, at their home near the Martin and Palm Beach county lines. The story made national headlines after investigators said deputies found Harrouff biting Stevens’ face. Court documents indicate that Harrouff told detectives that he “ate something bad.” When he was asked what that was, he replied, “Humans.”

King, one of Harrouff’s attorneys, said in a statement late Monday that the interview with Dr. Phil is “just one of many pieces of evidence demonstrating the deterioration of Austin’s mental health.”

Martin County Circuit Judge Lawrence Mirman ruled in favor of open records and stated the release of the video, recorded Oct. 3 but never shown on the “Dr. Phil” show, would not be “necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to a fair trial” for Harrouff.

“From its content, it is apparent that this video interview (with Austin Harrouff) was conducted at the request of the defendant or, more likely, his father while the defendant was hospitalized after the events giving rise to his arrest,” Mirman wrote in the ruling.

Harrouff’s father, Wade Harrouff, spoke with Dr. Phil after the killings as well. A teary-eyed Wade Harrouff apologized, saying “something went way wrong.” He insisted that his son isn’t a monster. 

Prosecutor’s employee who stole $90,000 sentenced

Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 2:24 PM

Prosecutor’s employee who stole $90,000 sentenced

Update@11:30 a.m. (Feb. 28):

Bruns appeared in court this morning, and was sentenced to 36 months, with 32 months suspended-120 days in local jail. He also must pay $39,830 from his retirement account.

"I just want to apologize to Mat Heck, the prosecutors, " and to the citizens of Montgomery County, Bruns said.

First report:

The former Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office employee who stole nearly $90,000 from the county lied about his involvement and only fully confessed when investigators looked deeper, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Monday by the special prosecutor.

“Mr. Bruns only came clean when his fraud became known,” prosecutors wrote. ‘There was a paper trail to him, and he had to know once the trail was investigated he would be discovered.”

RELATED: Bruns made ‘series of bad choices’

David Bruns, 48, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday by visiting Judge Linton D. Lewis, who retired from Perry County. Bruns pleaded guilty in December to theft in office and tampering with government records, both felonies.

Bruns worked in the delinquent tax assessment unit and legally made about $36,000 per year. Bruns is the husband of Julie Bruns, who is the head of Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.’s juvenile division and also Heck’s second cousin.

EARLIER: Bruns pleads guilty to theft in office

The sentencing memo written by Franklin County Prosecutor Ronald O’Brien and assistant Jeffrey Blake disputes that the case was self-reported. The thefts began in December 2011, according to court documents.

“The discovery of the above crimes came about only because an outside individual was questioning an allocation of $40,116 to Skyfall Properties in a foreclosure matter,” prosecutors wrote, adding that Buns advised his supervisor the week of Aug. 8, 2016, that he spoke to the company and was told it was an error.

“Only later on Aug. 15, 2016, did Mr. Bruns confess he was Skyfall Properties. Also, at this time he did not admit to the full amount of his criminal activity.”

MORE: Stolen money should have funded foreclosures 

Prosecutors wrote that Bruns first admitted to some theft Aug. 17, 2016, and that he used other methods to steal money. As investigators searched further, Bruns then admitted and cooperated with investigators and said the theft amount was closer to $90,000 than the original $40,116. Bruns was fired Aug. 22, 2016.

“Though the State asserts the claim that this was self-reporting is inaccurate, the State still agrees to the joint recommendation for community control if restitution is fully made,” prosecutors wrote. “The State asks for the Court to impose any and all local sanctions that it feels appropriate.”

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Dayton man survived bomber crash, burns, Gestapo in extraordinary life

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 11:24 AM

A Polish Air Force bomber gunner who survived being shot down at the outbreak of World War II and forced into slave labor by Hitler’s secret police before settling in Dayton has died.

Czeslaw “Chet” Makiewicz, who raised eight children in Dayton, was 98.

“We really realize how good a man he was as we got older and watching him and hearing his stories about all he went through,” said Hanka Brown of Euclid, Makiewicz’s oldest child. “There wasn’t a whole lot of flash or noise about him. He did what he thought he needed to do and took care of us.”

Makiewicz was born in Poland in 1919 and graduated from the Polish Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer School in 1938. In 1939, his plane was shot down. Locals kept him hidden and helped Makiewicz recover from severe burns to both hands and face, but the Gestapo found and arrested him in 1942. Before Makiewicz was put in a prison camp where he was used as slave labor on various farms, he was interrogated for any Polish Air Force intelligence, Brown said.

When initially placed in solitary confinement, Makiewicz was able to pass time with a prisoner in the next cell playing a game that was always important in his life, Brown said.

“They played chess by tapping on the wall and kept the pieces in their heads,” she said. “He played chess basically in his mind with the other guy.”

After laboring on one of the farms, Makiewicz met his future wife Martha Morl and worked for an American Army contractor.

In May 1949, Makiewicz, his wife and two daughters immigrated to the U.S., first moving to Nebraska. While there, he learned the plumbing trade, and they then moved to Dayton in 1956, signing up with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 162.

Martha Makiewicz died in 2015.

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“I remember him working a lot. He was always looking for ways to support us,” said daughter Sylvia Makiewicz of Dayton. “Sometimes he had two jobs.”

At times he would sometimes carry three jobs, the daughters said, including one at the now-shuttered Defense Electronics Supply in Kettering.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of money then,” Sylvia said. “He was good father and grounded in responsibility.”

Though English was his fourth language after Polish, German and Russian, Makiewicz and Martha, who was born in Czechoslovakia, headed an English-only American household, Brown said.

“When they came over here, their intent was to learn English. So we really never had another language other than English in our home,” Brown said. “They wanted to get assimilated. And they especially wanted us to grow up assimilated into the American culture.”

» FIND MORE: Dayton Daily News obituaries online

Brown said her father always stressed the importance of education and showed his children unwavering support.

“I always thought he was proud of us all. He was happy in our accomplishments,” Brown said. “He would always kind of push us to get there. He was always very supportive in our education and to go on to higher education.”

Though always working, Makiewicz set aside time to enjoy life and take part in the community, his daughters said.

“He made sure that we still had fun,” Brown said. “With eight kids, he didn’t have a whole lot of room as far as expenses were concerned. But he did what he could.”

Family favorites included picnics, the annual Easter egg hunt at the Polish Club, Christmas parties, outings to the state parks and summer drives topped with ice cream cones.

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He gave his children access to a strong educational system where they learned the tools for successful lives. He was an enthusiastic member of the Polish National Alliance, and in his later life handled the insurance sales and accounting for the local branch.

Away from work, Makiewicz also enjoyed fishing and gardening. He was a fixture at the Polish National Alliance lodge. 

In about 1973, Makiewicz returned to Poland to visit relatives. By then, he could do so without fear of capture. 

There was one relative he never saw again after 1939: his mother Bronislawa Makiewicz. The Iron Curtain prevented him from learning of her 1956 death. He didn’t get the news until about 10 years later.

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Makiewicz is survived by eight children: Hanka (James) Brown, Sylvia Makiewicz, Liza Makiewicz, Alice (Geri Cox) Makiewicz, Susan (James) Lemon, Mark Makiewicz, Timothy (Cher Clark) Makiewicz, and Andrew (Marilyn) Makiewicz. He also leaves behind 15 grandchildren with 10 spouses and 20 great grandchildren. 

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Friday at St. Adalbert Church, 1212 St. Adalbert Ave, Dayton. The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until time of services. Interment to follow at Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Our Lady of the Rosary, 22 Notre Dame Dayton, OH 45404; 937-228-8802 or to the Miami Valley School.