Snow Job? It may be more than the white stuff causing delays in Shelby Co.

Ohioans For Concealed Carry continues to receive requests for updates on problems with Shelby Co. Sheriff Kevin O'Leary and Jeffrey Billiel, editor of Brown Publishing's Sidney Daily News. In recent weeks, we have received information about Miami Co. Prosecutor Gary Nasal's "investigation" that is deeply discouraging.

Before that, some background:

On June 17, Nasal was appointed special prosecutor by Shelby Co. Court of Common Pleas Judge John D. Schmitt, to look into possible criminal violations by Shelby Co. Sheriff Kevin O'Leary and Sidney Daily News editor Jeffrey Billiel, a Brown Publishing Co. employee.

Earlier that month, Sheriff O'Leary responded to a public records request from Billiel by releasing the protected, private information about concealed handgun licenseholders. Billiel then published the protected information in the Sidney Daily News.

Under Ohio law, the release or dissemination of information beyond name, county of residence, and date of birth is considered a felony, and is subject to a $1000 fine, as well as civil action by each of the 85 individuals who were violated.

In the days following the actions of the Sheriff and newspaper editor, at least ten Ohio Concealed Handgun License-holders contacted OFCC for advice on seeking legal recourse for damages related to the release of their private, protected information. These people were referred to Attorney Ken Hanson with the firm of Firestone and Brehm, Ltd., for legal help.

Gary Nasal was appointed to investigate allegations that Sheriff O'Leary "did release or otherwise disseminate records that are confidential under Ohio Revised Code Section 2923.129(B)(1), and against the peace and dignity of the State of Ohio, a fifth degree felony." The investigation is also examining charges that O'Leary committed dereliction of duty and violated the civil rights of the 85 license-holders whose private information was disseminated. Those crimes are misdemeanors of the second and first degree, respectively.

As we will document below, there is 100% proof that the violation occurred, yet the "investigation" by Gary Nasal has been stalled for nearly six months.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

Not So Innocent

When OFCC first broke the story about the illegal release of addresses, Sheriff O'Leary claimed in media reports that he had made an innocent mistake caused by a lack of understanding what "county of residence" means. However, when OFCC did a search on the Ohio Revised Code, we found there is no other place where "county of residence" means "home address", despite both phrases being used repeatedly. Additionally, one of the qualifications for being a candidate Sheriff is that one's "county of residence" must be the same as the office they are seeking. Does O'Leary have any problems completing his day to day duties enforcing the laws of the state of Ohio, which use this language repeatedly? Was he confused when he filled out his announcement of candidacy with the Board of Elections?

During our investigation, OFCC has uncovered a wealth of anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that this disclosure was anything but an innocent mistake. OFCC has uncovered numerous examples of problems which stipulate O'Leary's bias against this law:

  • At a CCW training conducted by two Sidney police officers, the officers specifically advised their class to expect trouble from O'Leary, pointing to a letter from the sheriff whichoutlines an extraordinarily restrictive pick-up schedule for license (one evening per month), and the implementation of a mandatory "13th-hour" of training for all Shelby Co. licensees.
  • Sheriff O'Leary was the only one out of 88 county sheriffs to sit out the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association CCW training as a protest. This refusal to attend is confirmed by several sources.
  • At another CCW class offered by two Shelby Co. deputies, the Sheriff's office sent in a K9 unit to check everyone in the class for drugs.

    Overall, the picture painted is of a Sheriff who is against this law and who is willing to take action to obstruct its implementation.

    OFCC has consulted a legal expert who has extensive grand jury experience, and who has knowledge of this situation. This expert told OFCC that "rarely does 'honest mistake' play a role at the charging stage. At trial or for plea, sure, maybe. But O'Leary's 'aw shucks' explanations would not cut it for a street level crack dealer he was arresting!"

    Deeper levels of obstruction?

    OFCC has reason to believe a grand jury is finally being summoned, which may hear this case shortly. If true, this would certainly be good news. However, in recent days, OFCC has received even more disturbing information about the credibility of this case.

    A source who works in the courthouse has told OFCC that Sheriff O'Leary has been sending his deputies over to common pleas court very recently "trying to find out the identities of those being summoned for the grand jury."

    Having witnessed multiple examples of O'Leary's willingness to violate the law in order to impede concealed carry, this source's information certainly must be given serious consideration.

    Snow job?

    This is a real crime with real victims. One named individual, a small business owner, has been confronted several times after his name appeared in the paper, and says he has suffered harassment. Another victim has received death threats in the past and now has had his home address published in the paper.

    As the weeks and months since Nasal's appointment passed, OFCC has been told on several occasions that the case was still being investigated, and that it was expected to be presented to a grand jury in the "near future".

    So what about the "ongoing investigation"? OFCC has not been able to locate even ONE victim who has so much as been contacted by Gary Nasal during the course of his "investigation". In fact, OFCC has learned he didn't even meet with O'Leary until early December.

    All of the direct and anecdotal evidence is incredibly damning against the Sheriff's "I didn't understand" explanations, yet as far as we can tell, none of the victims have even been contacted.

    Why has the charging decision been stymied? According to our legal expert, "this is an easy grand jury investigation." O'Leary's letterhead is fixed atop the letters releasing the addresses (obtained from his office by public records request). Editor Billiel admitted in an editorial that he got the information from O'Leary. "Two pieces of documentary evidence, even without testimony, equals an indictment," the expert observes.

    There is no plausible or reasonable explanation for why this process has been delayed for six months.

    This investigation will decide whether violators will be held accountable, or whether Sheriff O'Leary and the Sidney Daily News will be Exhibit A offered with legislation that will be introduced to repeal the media access loophole.

    Prosecutor Gary Nasal can be contacted at
    (937) 440-5960, or emailed at [email protected].

    Related Stories:
    Investigation of Shelby Co. Sheriff and Sidney Daily News ongoing

    Adding Insult to Injury: Sidney Daily News publishes more CHL-holders' names

    BSSA tells O'Leary ''county of residence'' means ''county of residence

    Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate Release of Protected Records

    Sidney Daily News and Shelby Co. Sheriff maintain they committed no crimes

    Shelby Co. Sheriff releases CHL-holders' protected, private information to media

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