Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is running for reelection this year, spoke last Tuesday at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is running for reelection this year, spoke last Tuesday at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce meeting.

OTTAWA — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hosted several law enforcement roundtables for area law enforcement in Defiance, Paulding and Marion counties on Tuesday, but the self-proclaimed “lawyer for the state” shared lunch with Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce members during a catered sit-down at the Putnam County YMCA.

Following an introduction by Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer, DeWine offered an overview of just what it is that his office does. “Our lawyers are in court every single day,” he said. “Any time the state gets sued, or if one of the state agencies is in court for any reason, we represent them, as well as all the state boards and state universities.”

DeWine also runs the state crime lab through three different locations, including a new facility which is being built at Bowling Green State University.

“Whatever you see on CSI, that’s what we do,” he said. “Every month, on the average, we solve 100 cases just from DNA alone. Cases that, when I was a county prosecutor in the 1970s, we never would have solved. We now have the technology to do so.”

The Attorney General referenced a case which occurred in a Dayton suburb 12 years ago, one which involved the nighttime rape of a 14-year-old girl. The rapist entered the home through a window and held the girl at knife point. Because she couldn’t see the face of her attacker and was afraid to call for help, the man got away. However, an officer on the scene was able to capture the attacker’s DNA and this evidence went into the national DNA database.

“There it sat for ten years,” said DeWine. “About a year ago a guy was driving through Madison County and was pulled over and charged with something. They took his DNA and brought it in to us. We put it in the database and boom! That was the guy that, 10 years before, had raped that little girl. He’s now in the state penitentiary.”

DeWine added that technology is such that investigators have the ability to determine DNA though a touch sample, referred. His office also works crime scenes and uses “touch DNA” as a tool onsite. For instance, one recent murder was solved when an agent lifted DNA from the inside of a paper roll after the murderer attempted to remove blood with toilet paper.

Overall, the Ohio Attorney General’s office is run as a business, according to DeWine. His grandfather started a seed business in downtown Yellow Springs in the 1920s, and DeWine and his staff conduct small business seminars to help operations, large and small, like his family’s, avoid falling prey to scams and deceptive behavior in today’s global marketplace.

“We’ve always had crooks, but today they have a really long reach through internet and telemarketing,” DeWine said. He shared a case of cybercrime that involved a Craigslist scam. A couple in rural Coshocton County sold bogus tickets to Lady Gaga concerts and professional sporting events.

“They ripped off people in 44 different states. When we finally caught them, we asked the woman, “Didn’t you know you were going to get caught?’ She said, “Yeah, but the money was just two good. Every week it was three or four thousand dollars.’”

His office has also solved a Craigslist murder case in which the perpetrator lured his victims to Akron via false job offers, and more common scams like such as swamplaand sales, sweepstakes, disingenuous tree removal services, and those that victimize the elderly via telephone appeals from long lost family members.

Following his presentation, DeWine entertained questions from his audience. Topics included:

Identity theft: “Because it is so common, the Ohio Attorney General’s office has set up a special unit. Call our unit and we’ll walk you through it, or we’ll do it for you.”

The requirement that band boosters, athletic boosters, parent-teacher organizations and similar nonprofits who handle large amounts of money (over a certain dollar figure) must register with the the Ohio Attorney General’s office: “Every once in a while you get one person out of that group who’s dishonest and they rip-off a lot of money. We regulate about 30,000 nonprofits.”

DeWine offered a final bit of advice to those in attendance before he and his staff left for a roundtable in Marion County. “Don’t go for that quick ‘I’ll send you a million dollars.’ When in doubt, ask them to put it in writing.”

story created on Tuesday 2/4/2014 at 1:43:51 pm by Anne Coburn-Griffis
story modified on Tuesday 2/4/2014 at 5:10:12 pm by Jane Hilty