Trial for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools superintendent delayed again -- for third judge

XENIA — Trial for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools Superintendent Doug Cozad, already delayed because two judges excused themselves from the case, is now set back until early October as a third judge has accepted the assignment to handle the case.

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That third judge refused to throw out the case against Superintendent Doug Cozad as well as current and former school board members on charges of illegal transaction of public money and dereliction of duty.

Families in Bellbrook are ready for the case to be over and done with because they want a fresh start for the 2022-23 school year.

“I just think it speaks bad for Bellbrook,” Sadonna Schofield told News Center 7′s Molly Koweek on Wednesday evening.

Cozad’s attorney filed motions asking the trial judge to disqualify the special prosecutor in the case and dismiss the entire case on constitutional ground.

Monday, the trial judge overruled both motions to keep the case pointed toward an Oct. 3 start date.

Here’s a timeline about the case, according to Xenia Municipal Court filings:

◊ Cozad and school board members used taxpayer money to promote a levy

◊ The levy failed and Cozad is accused of authorizing more than $37,000 to hire consulting company to help with communication and messaging

◊ About the same time Cozad hired the consultant, the school district hired a research company to survey registered voters by phone. The district said Cozad reviewed and approved the questions and the $15,000 that was paid to the research company.

Cozad’s attorney and the prosecutors have argued in court for months trying to convince the various trial judges that have been assigned to handle the trial why the case should be thrown out or why it should be heard in a courtroom.

Wednesday, Cozad’s attorney declined extended comment, but said, “we respect the court’s decision and will proceed as is appropriate.”

While Cozad faces the eight criminal counts in all (four involving the transaction of public money and four involving dereliction), there are two former and one current board member charged in the case as well.

Co-defendants David Carpenter, Virginia Slouffman and Elizabeth Betz each face single counts of illegal transaction of public funds and dereliction of duty, according to online court records.

One of the co-defendants, current board member Betz, sought to have the case against her dismissed. The judge denied her request.

John Uhl, fraud investigator with the state auditor’s special investigations unit, filed the charges in November 2021.

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