Glouster Police Chief Pleads Not Guilty To Charges

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Glouster's chief of police was placed on a recognizance bond after pleading innocent Wednesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court to allegations that include harboring a woman wanted by law enforcement.

Lucas Mace, of Glouster, waived formal reading of his indictment on three counts of obstructing justice, six counts of dereliction of duty, and one count each of theft in office, possessing criminal tools and failure to aid a law enforcement officer. The charges of dereliction of duty and failure to aid are misdemeanors, but the other counts are felonies.

The charges stem from an investigation into Mace's alleged relationship with Hillary Hooper, a woman who has since entered a plea agreement with the Athens County Prosecutor's Office on one count of complicity to possession of heroin. She entered the diversion program as part of the plea deal.

Hooper had been wanted by law enforcement agencies on a warrant out of Perry County when she allegedly came into contact with Mace. According to allegations against him, Mace investigated a traffic crash in which Hooper was the driver and took her back to his office. He is alleged to have allowed Hooper to stay at his home and reportedly had a relationship with the woman. He even had a nickname for the woman; "Softy," because "he said she had the softest skin he'd ever touched," Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said when Mace was arrested in May.

It is also alleged that Mace took Hooper to the Glouster Police Department, where they spent time behind closed doors, but Hooper was never arrested, the prosecution said.

A search warrant filed on June 19 asked for the cell phone records and data pertaining to the case. The warrant specifies a search for evidence in the commission of sexual battery, an allegation for which Mace has not been charged.

The warrant requested a digital recording of a March 28 interview in which Mace allegedly told Hooper he recorded their interview "as he records all interviews," the warrant stated. The recording was also requested "to search for evidence of sexual activity at the office," according to the warrant.

"The investigation revealed that Lucas Mace has engaged in sexual activity with persons in his custody or under his control while performing his duties as a law enforcement officer," Investigator Tom McKnight wrote in the warrant.

Investigators stated they found "possible bodily fluids" in the police vehicle "Mace usually drove," according to the warrant.

This was the second search warrant filed in the case. The first warrant, filed May 28, requested permission to seize materials at the Glouster Police Department including the computer Mace used at the police department, an audio recorder and an external hard drive.

Blackburn told The Messenger on Monday that charges of sexual battery were not being pursued but that the case would be brought to an Athens County Grand Jury "sometime in the next month or so." Future charges similar to the charges Mace already faces are expected to be presented , Blackburn said.

Defense attorney Joe Nemec asked that the court induct a gag order "to stop all the press coverage that's been happening."

"Mr. Mace is going to have a hard time finding a jury (because of the coverage)," Nemec said Wednesday.

Visiting Judge Jennifer Sargus said she would "evaluate fully" the request and respond at a later date. Sargus was assigned to the case after both Judge George McCarthy and Judge L. Alan Goldsberry recused themselves. Mace has testified in his official capacity before both judges.

A final pre-trial was scheduled for Nov. 7 and a jury trial was scheduled for Dec. 9.