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State settlement reached: Harrison’s widow awarded $190,000 in police chief case

October 25, 2011

The state of Ohio and the widow of a former Wapakoneta police chief reached a settlement last month regarding the wrongful imprisonment of her husband, and a state judge approved the deal earlier this month.
The settlement provides Vicki Harrison, the widow of former Wapakoneta Police Chief Dave Harrison, with $190,000 following his wrongful imprisonment following his incarceration on March 10, 2006, and his Lakewood attorney Dean Boland is to receive $70,000 for professional fees. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on July 28, 2009, that Special Prosecutor Scott Longo and the state of Ohio violated Harrison’s right against double jeopardy with the second trial for charges including illegal use of a minor in nude-oriented material in London, Ohio, in March 2006.
The settlement was agreed upon on Sept. 16 and filed with the Ohio Court of Claims on Sept. 27. State Attorney General Mike DeWine and Judge Alan C. Travis approved the settlement with a journal entry filed Oct. 5.
Of the award, the settlement states of the $190,000 awarded to Vicki Harrison, $94,244.38 will be used to compensate the Harrisons’ for attorney fees from previous court
actions and $95,755.62 for other costs incurred.
A $400,000 wrongful imprisonment suit was filed April 14, 2010, by Boland and Harrison, who died nine months after its filing on Jan. 16 after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 58.
The wrongful imprisonment suit was scheduled to go to trial in August.
His widow, who works as a dispatcher with the Wapakoneta Police Department, will be the recipient of the award which ends nearly a decade of criminal and civil court actions.
Harrison, who served 22 years with the Wapakoneta Police Department and 14 years as police chief, submitted his resignation in May 2002 to former Mayor Don Wittwer and former Safety-Service Director Rex Katterheinrich after officers found a tape recorder belonging to him in the women’s bathroom.
In June 2003, Harrison pled guilty to a six-count bill of information after child pornography was found on his computer at work and at his residence. In July 2003, visiting Van Wert Common Pleas Judge Charles Steele sentenced Harrison to one year in jail.
Complications existed regarding his terms of probation. He was to serve a mandatory five years probation by state law, but Steele sentenced him to one year probation with an option of three years.
When Harrison was released from the Auglaize County Jail in July 2004, members of the Adult Parole Authority did not take action to impose any terms of probation.
Seven months after he completed his sentence, Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Pierce discovered Harrison should have been sentenced to a mandatory five years of probation.
During a March 2005 hearing before Steele, Harrison withdraw his pleas to the original charges.
After the plea was withdrawn, the state of Ohio brought a 23-count indictment against him in June 2005, which was based around the additional counts, similar to those in the bill of information.
In March 2006, a Madison County Common Pleas jury found Harrison guilty, and in May 2006, the former police chief was sentenced to six years in prison. He entered prison in 2006, but a Ohio Supreme Court order allowed his release in 2008.
In July 2009, Ohio Supreme Court justices voided the sentence, noting the five years of mandatory post release control, or probation, was listed as optional in the court entry, and since the option was not exercised, Harrison should not have been re-sentenced.

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