Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Former golf division boss goes to prison


Remorse too late, judge tells Creasman

BY DAN HORN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nearly two years after his trial, Thomas Creasman told a judge Monday that he finally understands what he did wrong as supervisor of Cincinnati's golf division.

        The judge, however, told him it was too late to save him from a prison sentence.

        After a brief but emotional hearing Monday, Mr. Creasman was led away in handcuffs to begin serving the two-year prison sentence he received in 1997.

        The jury convicted him of theft in office, having an unlawful interest in a public contract and three counts of tampering with records.

        “Your trial brought certain things to light,” said Judge Steven Martin of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. “Those things were wrong, and they remain wrong.”

        The judge ordered Mr. Creasman, 52, to prison despite a plea from his attorney to reconsider the original sentence. The attorney, Robert Hastings, said Mr. Creasman probably did not grasp the magnitude of the case until he was sentenced to prison.

        While Mr. Creasman remained free on appeal for the past 19 months, Mr. Hastings said, his client began to understand that he had acted improperly. “I don't think Tom did understand until his life was turned upside down.”

        Even so, he said, Mr. Creasman acted out of a desire to make the golf division better and never intended to break the law. He also said Mr. Creasman did not personally profit from his crimes, urging the judge to sentence him to community service instead of prison.

        “He's already lost his career,” he said. “He's lost his self-respect.”

        Although he did not profit personally, prosecutors say Mr. Creasman caused the city to misspend money by forging payment vouchers and illegally paying his wife's company to buy equipment for one of Cincinnati's seven municipal golf courses.

        “It is theft,” said assistant county prosecutor Jerry Kunkel. “It is wrong, and it is a crime.”

        Mr. Creasman had remained free since his trial while his attorney appealed the guilty verdict. He returned to court Monday because the appeals court affirmed the verdict and sentence.

        A tearful Mr. Creasman apologized for his actions and asked the judge for leniency. “I accept full responsibility for my actions. I throw myself at the mercy of this court.”

       



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