A Ohio police chief has been charged with aggravated menacing and dereliction of duty for his alleged role in the coverup of crimes.
The charges resulted from a six-month state investigation into the department.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office announced the charges against Put-In-Bay Police Chief Robert Lampela, 53, at a press conference Friday.
Lampela is accused of covering up allegations of a rape committed in the South Bass Island police employee dorms to “prevent negative publicity” in 2003.
He allegedly ignored the alleged rape and report by refusing to allow the victim, a police cadet, to file a police report against her attackers, two fellow officers, the Attorney General’s office report said.
During the states investigation, Lampela allegedly lied to investigators, and insisted that no one tried to report the rape. However, as the initials of both people are in the report, investigators knew he was lying to them.
This resulted in two counts of ‘falsification’ against him.
A special prosecutor for the attorney general’s office, Margaret Tamaro, said in her report on the matter that, “unprofessional conduct is not a crime,” which is one reason no other officers were charged.
Lampela was charged with the aggravated menacing count as the result of a loud conversation with a fellow officer in 2012. Lampela allegedly brandished his weapon, which worried a third officer so much that he “prepared to draw his gun” by unstrapping the holster.
Sheriff Steve Levorchick from the Ottawa County’s Sheriff’s office heads up the investigation, which started in August 2014, and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII), part of the attorney general’s office, provided resources and support.
In September 2014, Sheriff Levorchick started investigating the entire Put-In-Bay Police Department after receiving numerous complaints from South Bass Island inhabitants about the department and Chief Lampela specifically.
Numerous allegations made of “unlawful arrests and heavy-handed tactics” that the police used against citizens.
The investigation is ongoing, according to Dan Tierney, spokesperson for the AG’s Office.
Lampela is scheduled to appear in Ottawa County Municipal Court on March 25. If found guilty of all charges, he could face up to 21 months in jail.