Thursday, June 15, 2000

Prosecutor turns accusation around

Opponent denies misusing computer for crime checks

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County Prosecutor John F. Holcomb, facing allegations that an employee misused the Ohio crime computer to check on Mr. Holcomb's political opponent, fired back with counteraccusations.

        The new information came from Mr. Holcomb's office to the Enquirer on Wednesday in response to the newspaper's earlier public records request.

        In a letter dated May 22, Mr. Holcomb told the committee that oversees the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) that Prosecutor's Investigator J.C. Kristanoff had “inadvertently” run checks on prosecutor candidate Robin Piper.

        Then Mr. Holcomb accused Mr. Piper of misusing LEADS, too.

        “(Mr. Holcomb) always deflects by making an accusation against somebody else,” Mr. Piper said Wednesday. He called on Mr. Hol comb to provide a more plausible explanation for the five checks Mr. Kristanoff asked Trenton police to perform on Mr. Piper's name and/or Social Security Number on Feb. 8 and Feb. 28.

        Use of the LEADS computer is restricted to criminal investigations; it may not be used for political purposes.

        Mr. Holcomb alleged that while Mr. Piper worked for him as an assistant prosecutor in 1989, Mr. Piper improperly conducted computer background checks on prospective jurors in two criminal cases.

        Mr. Piper said he doesn't recall doing so. But he does remember a case in which a judge disqualified a potential juror because a police officer proved the juror had lied about a previous criminal conviction while under oath. “And I don't even know if LEADS was used, quite frankly, because I wasn't involved,” Mr. Piper said.

        Regardless, Lt. Jim Hamilton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol committee that oversees LEADS, said Mr. Holcomb's accusation is moot. Using LEADS to expose falsehoods by potential jurors “is an appropriate use of the system,” he said.


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