Thursday, October 9, 2003

Juror mouths off, officers get off in Lawrenceburg

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LAWRENCEBURG - A Dearborn County Superior Court judge has dismissed an 11-count indictment against the city's former police chief and three police officers.

Judge G. Michael Witte on Monday dismissed the criminal charges of falsifying employment records, destroying evidence and intimidating local business owners because an alternate juror made comments at the wrong time during the grand jury proceedings.

Special prosecutor Mel Wilhelm will now have to decide whether he will take the case back to a grand jury. He was in court Wednesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

Former Chief John Agner, former Assistant Chief John E. Johnson Jr., former officer Scott McAdams and officer Morgan B. Hedrick were indicted last month. The charges stemmed from allegations made nearly two years ago by five other police officers about the conduct of the chief and the other officers

The grand jury also had considered theft allegations against Mayor Paul Tremain, but he was not indicted.

"All along, through this process, I've said let justice do its work," Tremain said Wednesday. "If a judge found a reason to quash it or throw it out, he had his reasons."

The charges stemmed from allegations that Agner and McAdams had destroyed time cards that claimed overtime and that Johnson and Hedrick had broke into an evidence trailer.

Some business owners also said they were told by some officers to take down signs supporting the five officers who made the allegations.

Only Hedrick remains on the force. Agner and Johnson have retired and McAdams was transferred to the water department months ago after he was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of battery.


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