Updated Mon, Dec 30, 2013 10:11 am
New Straitsville Police Chief Kevin Groves has pleaded innocent to seven felonies following his recent indictment by a grand jury in Hocking County.
One of his alleged victims is Hocking County Common Pleas Court Judge John Wallace, who recused himself from presiding over the case due to the conflict. A visiting judge will now be appointed.
Groves has been accused of tampering with records and providing false address information when registering vehicles on two separate occasions, as well as improperly accessing the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway four separate times. OLEG, as the system is commonly called by law enforcement, is used to track criminal history, evidence, missing children, gangs, protection orders and a myriad of other topics to solve and prevent crime. Groves is accused of improperly seeking the background information of four individuals, including Wallace.
Groves is being represented by local attorney Tim Gleeson, who entered innocent pleas on behalf of his client. Tampering with records is a felony of the third degree and improperly using OLEG is a felony of the fifth degree.
Wallace gave Groves a $25,000 recognizance bond prior to recusing himself from the case, and also ruled Groves cannot have firearms in his home and also can’t possess firearms — even in his capacity as the New Straitsville police chief.
New Straitsville Solicitor Jason Sarver also was at the arraignment — which was held soon after the grand jury indicted Groves — and argued that Groves should be allowed to possess a weapon in order to serve in his official capacity as police chief for the village.
“We would ask that he be able to continue his duties as police chief,” Sarver told the court. “He is the only paid officer that we have here. We do have auxiliaries, but… because of his experience and his position, it’s vital for the sake of the village. It’s my understanding that it’s his primary source of income as well…. My request, through my position as solicitor of the village, is that he be allowed to possess guns in the performance of those duties.”
Gleeson agreed with Sarver and thanked him for the comments.
In response, Hocking County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Archer said the village of New Straitsville has no status in the matter. “Frankly what they want or don’t want isn’t really (relevant) to this,” he said. “My request is based on the request by the sheriff’s department. But I do want to make it clear my understanding is Mr. Gleeson represents Mr. Groves and not Mr. Sarver.”
The judge disagreed with Sarver and Gleeson and ruled in favor of the prosecution, but said the visiting judge might make a different determination at a later time.
“I am an alleged victim of the offense, so I’m in a position where I will be recusing myself,” Wallace said.
The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to investigate the allegations due to a potential conflict of interests, since Groves worked at the sheriff’s office prior to taking the job as New Straitsville police chief in January.
Groves worked at the sheriff’s office for 18 years before being demoted following an internal investigation that found he violated the rules set forth in the the office’s policy manual. He reportedly took someone to jail after being informed by another deputy that the warrant was no longer valid. Groves resigned shortly after his demotion, and was hired to serve the village of New Straitsville less than one month later.