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Former Police Chief Convicted of Sex Crimes Settles with State of Ohio for $190,000

by Christopher Zoukis

 The widow of former Wapakonetam, Ohio Police Chief Dave Harrison, who had pleaded guilty to six counts related to child pornography, agreed to a $190,000 settlement with Special Prosecutor Scott Longo and the state of Ohio.

     Harrison had served 22 years with the Wapakonetam Police Department, 14 of those as chief of police. He resigned in May 2002, and in June 2003, he pleaded guilty to a six-count bill of information after child pornography was found on his work and home computers. In July, he was sentenced to one year in jail. According to state law, he was to serve a mandatory five years of probation, but he received one year of probation with an option of three years.

     Harrison was released in July 2004, with the Adult Parole Authority neglecting to impose any terms of probation. Seven months later, an Auglaize County prosecutor realized that Harrison should have been sentenced to the mandatory term of probation of five years. Prosecutors sought to have Harrison rearrested and re-sentenced.

     Harrison withdrew his pleas to the original charges, and in June 2005, the state brought a 23-count indictment against him, similar to the charges in the original bill of information. In March 2006, he was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison.

     After being incarcerated for two years, the Ohio Supreme Court allowed Harrison's release in 2008 before voiding his sentence completely in July 2009. The court determined that the five years of mandatory probation was listed as optional in the court entry. Since the option was not exercised, Harrison should not have been resentenced.

     Harrison sued Special Prosecutor Scott Longo and the state of Ohio for wrongful imprisonment and for violating his right against double jeopardy, seeking $400,000 in damages for emotional distress. The defendants denied doing anything wrong, arguing that they were simply following the sentencing rules, which they believed were improperly applied the first time.

     Upon Harrison's death, prior to the suit's resolution, his wife and estate administrator, Vicki Harrison, was substituted as the plaintiff. A settlement of $190,000 was reached between the parties, ending nearly a decade of legal activity.

See: Harrison v. State of Ohio, et al., Franklin County, Court of Claims, Columbus Division, Case No. C 2010-060000 WI (Sept. 16, 2011)

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Related legal case

Harrison v. State of Ohio, et al.