Former WPD officer pleads guilty to dereliction of duty

By Nathan Kraatz -

WILMINGTON — After more than two years in court, Melissa Myers, a former Wilmington police officer accused of “doctor shopping,” reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Myers will be sentenced Tuesday, March 8, 2017 for dereliction of duty, a misdemeanor charge she pled guilty to Tuesday, Feb. 23, according to a Clinton County Municipal Judge Mike Daugherty and Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McCoy.

“The State reached a plea agreement with Ms. Myers whereby the felony deception to obtain was dismissed in exchange for her plea of guilty to misdemeanor dereliction of duty, a charge that carries up to 90 days in jail,” McCoy wrote in an email. “Ms. Myers also agreed to allow her peace officer certification to expire and cannot now serve as sworn law enforcement.”

As part of the agreement, multiple felony charges of deception to obtain drugs and one of deception were dismissed in Clinton County Court of Common Pleas Thursday, Feb. 25, the same day Myers was expected to go to trial, according to documents from that court.

“Should Defendant successfully complete unsupervised probation and have no other criminal charges before sentencing, the Court will vacate the plea of Guilty and dismiss this case on the motion of the State (upon payment of all court costs),” the court order read, including the portion in parentheses.

“Ms. Myers has been doing well on her supervised probation,” McCoy wrote. “Should Ms. Myers violate any conditions of her probation, she will stand convicted and the Court will impose sentence for dereliction of duty. If Ms. Myers has no incidents for the next year, her plea will be vacated as successfully completing ‘diversion.’

“The plea was made in full consultation and agreement with the City of Wilmington Police Department and recognizes her accepting accountability for her actions and the loss of her profession,” McCoy continued.

Myers was indicted in June, 2013, meaning she’s spent more than two and a half years in court, which McCoy said was due to an appeal. That appeal was over whether detectives can use a state prescription database to investigate a person’s prescription history without a warrant.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, Clinton County Court of Common Pleas Judge John W. Tim” Rudduck ruled to suppress the evidence, saying the warrantless search violated Myers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure because she had a reasonable right to privacy.

The 12th District Court of Appeals, however, ruled against Rudduck and in favor of prosecutors. In its ruling, the appeals court cited federal and state law, including Stone v. Ohio, where the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that warrantless searches using a similar database didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment.

“Law enforcement’s access to prescription information without a warrant in limited situations prescribed by the statute does not give rise to the invasion of a recognized right of privacy,” the appeals court wrote. “Consequently, Myers did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that her prescription records stored on OARRS would not be disclosed to Detective Luken in his request of prescription drug information.”

“While every court case is important, a significant factor in the State’s decision to appeal in this case was the decision’s precedential effect on other like cases,” McCoy wrote. “Our office, and law enforcement, was pleased with the Court of Appeals decision overturning the suppression of evidence and the decision’s associated case law.”

Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.

By Nathan Kraatz