Tuscarawas County Attorney Ryan Styer said a criminal investigation into Dennison Mayor’s allegations about the condition of fire extinguishers returned in two townships found insufficient evidence to prosecute criminal charges.
In a February 23 letter, Styer said his office was closing files on complaints from Dennison Mayor Greg DiDonato about equipment returned to the Townships Mill and Union by the Uhrichsville Fire Department.
Styer’s conclusion was based on an investigation by the sheriff’s office into several complaints from DiDonato regarding the condition of three vehicles, radios, and other objects.
Equipment went back to the Mill and Union Townships when the communities moved their fire services from Uhrichsville to Dennison in late 2020.
DiDonato had complained that radios had been removed from the trucks and that, among other things, they were left without fuel and water.
Styer’s letter to the two law enforcement officers who conducted the investigation concluded the following about DiDonato’s allegations:
* The civil service disruption, a crime, “is simply not justified by the evidence. It is not alleged that calls went unanswered in Dennison or otherwise, as Dennison experienced an” interruption “or” impairment “in” Fire Department ” . ”
* “The evidence doesn’t justify theft,” Styer wrote. He noted that DiDonato cannot be the victim because he doesn’t own the three radios that were in the trucks. Uhrichsville Mayor Mark Haney initially believed radios were part of the city. When Haney presented the attorney’s opinion that the radios belonged to the townships, he agreed to return them and complete the townships by reinstalling them.
* “Likewise, the crime of vandalism is not justified,” wrote Styer. “The townships do not claim to have suffered harm, let alone ‘serious physical harm’ envisaged in this crime.”
* The criminal accident lawsuit is negated by the fact that Donato is not a victim.
Styer noted a “disturbing statement” from Uhrichsville Fire Chief Justin Edwards about the exhausted gas tanks.
As Sheriffs Detective Sgt. Adam Fisher, Edwards asked on February 3 why the fire equipment was left with empty fuel tanks. The boss said the tanks were not empty, but fire department personnel made no additional attempts to fill the tanks knowing they would be leaving the city’s property.
On February 10, Fisher saw a December 31 video of Edwards and other members of the fire department scooping fuel from the Union Township tanker and draining the water.
In an interview on February 11, the fire chief informed the detective that he had not lied during the investigation, but merely left out details, knowing that he would see what actually happened on the surveillance video.
Although Styer described Edwards’ testimony of the depleted gas tanks as “troubling,” he went on to write that “it is clear that he is not” obstructing “or” obstructing “your investigation and, while not disclosing the full, awkward, truthful truth Technically speaking, he made no “false statements” about the exhausted tanks, so that forgery and obstruction are also not applicable. “
Fisher and Sheriff Orvis Campbell conducted the investigation. Fisher consulted experts from Advantech Service and Parts of Midvale about the trucks and Staley Technologies from New Philadelphia about the radios.
In an interview on Feb. 4, a Staley representative said the radios were not maliciously removed from the trucks, but were removed by someone who was not a professional. He said the only equipment the townships would have to buy that they wouldn’t have needed if a professional had removed the radios is two radio microphone holders.
Also on February 4, an Advantek agent who was inspecting the three trucks said they had not been “maliciously damaged, altered, or in any way destroyed,” according to Fisher’s report.
“He reports that there was no intentional damage to any of the valves on the tanker previously indicated by Mayor Greg DiDonato,” Fisher wrote. The Advantech representative blamed the age of the vehicle for a leaking valve.
Community trustees apparently want to drop the matter. Part of Fischer’s report includes a statement that Mill Township Trustee John Edwards and Union Township Trustee Joe Martinelli “firmly believe they do not want to pursue this matter. All parties say tensions have been high and that further processing of this problem goes directly against the mission of providing an adequate service to the public. “
Representatives of the board of trustees of each parish signed a receipt and waiver form for their equipment in late December. In the documents, the Union and Mill townships agreed to accept their Uhrichsville equipment “as is” and waive any claims for damages.
Comments made during various interviews indicate possible reasons for the allegations regarding fire fighting equipment.
Edwards told Fisher that Uhrichsville and Dennison’s disagreement stemmed from a decision made in 2020 when Uhrichsville decided to make its own 911 calls and end its contract with Smith Ambulance of Dover. DiDonato, as well as Union and Mill Township officials, were reportedly dissatisfied with the city’s decision. In response, DiDonato campaigned against the EMS levy from door to door in Uhrichsville.
In Fischer’s interview with DiDonato, the mayor of Dennison informed him that Uhrichsville was trying to get Midvale into an ambulance contract, an issue that apparently had nothing to do with the condition of the fire equipment.
Midvale Village Council chose to pay Dennison for fire fighting and Smith Ambulance for ambulance services.
Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR