BELLBROOK — With a trial about a month away, attorneys for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek’s superintendent and some current and former school board members want criminal charges against them thrown out.
Two motions were filed a minute apart in Xenia Municipal Court each with the same goal — have the court dismiss charges against Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Superindentendent Douglas Cozad.
He faces four counts of illegal transactions of public funds and four counts of dereliction of duty.
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In the first motion, Cozad’s lawyer Jim Fleisher argues attorneys for the auditor of the state should not be allowed to persecute the case.
In December of 2019, the agency opened a preliminary investigation into the district’s alleged misspending of public funds.
This comes after Bellbrook resident John Stafford made complaints to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Elections Commission.
Fleisher argues the AOS misled the district and his client into thinking this was a civil and administration audit investigation when he said the investigators intended to pursue criminal charges
Fleisher’s motion goes on to say about a year after the AOS investigating, Xenia’s law director appointed attorneys from the agency who oversaw the investigation as special prosecutors in this case.
He states multiple times the AOS does not have the authority to prosecute criminal actions.
Fleisher also said Xenia City Council needed to approve the AOS as special prosecutor on this case per the city’s charter.
Xenia’s law director, Donnette Fisher, told News Center 7 that because this is a state case, not a city case, she did not need the permission.
Fleisher said the attorneys from the AOS “must be disqualified from any further prosecution of this matter.”
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The second mention deals with how the AOS handled the charges.
Fleisher argues the laws the investigator used to charge Cozad are unconstitutional in the way the AOS used them in this case.
He states in the past several Miami Valley districts including Centerville, Beavercreek and Kettering sent out newsletters and postcards promoting their own levies.
He also claims others throughout the state have hired the same consulting firm Bellbrook-Sugarcreek used.
“This district and its superintendent alone face criminal charges for what we believe is the first time in the history of the statute,” he wrote.
The motion also calls into question Stafford’s involvement saying his influence and political pressure “prompted the AOS to pursue a patently unconstitutional course of action and therefore charges should be dismissed.
Fleisher said at the very least he wants an evidence hearing to talk about Stafford’s involvement.
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