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Former Attorney General Pleads Guilty

Misdemeanor Ethics Charges from State Investigation
Marc Dann Gone
David Silver

With the two-year statute of limitations approaching quickly former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann pleaded guilty Friday to a pair of misdemeanor ethics charges.

According to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office, Dann entered pleas to one count of providing improper compensation and a second count of filing a false financial disclosure.

Prosecutors say Dann who resigned in May 2008, entered an “Alford plea,” where the defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges that enough evidence exists to lead to a conviction. The former state attorney general now faces a $500 fine for each count and must serve 500 hours of community service by mid-2012.

The plea comes two years after Dann resigned in disgrace amid a sexual harassment scandal in his office and his admission he had an affair with a member of his staff.

An investigative report released after his resignation made allegations that the state’s former top lawyer turned campaign contributions into a “personal honey pot,” lined the pockets of workers on his payroll, and blew thousands of state dollars on office perks.

Former Dann staffer Anthony Gutierrez pleaded guilty to six criminal counts last August, including felony theft in office, unauthorized use of public property, soliciting improper compensation, and ethics charges. He served a 45-day jail sentence.

Former Dann communications director Leo A. Jennings III, received a suspended jail sentence after being convicted of using $15,000 in campaign and transition funds to pay condo rent and failing to disclose supplemental political consulting income.

Those pleas to receiving improper compensation are tied to the charges that Mr. Dann illegally provided them that money.

Two others already have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor ethics charges. Former Dann chief of staff  Edgar Simpson pleaded guilty to failing to publicly disclose income and Dann’s wife,  Alyssa Lenhoff, recently pleaded to soliciting her husband's office for a grant at Youngstown State University, where she teaches. Mrs. Dann recently filed for divorce.

Photo by David Silver.