Ohio Deputy AG: Lawsuit vs. Corps nears resolution — outlook positive for Wilmington

Ohio Deputy AG: Outlook positive for Wilmington

By John Hamilton - [email protected]

WILMINGTON — Ohio Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Fulkerson told city council at Thursday night’s meeting that their office received news of a favorable court decision regarding a federal lawsuit filed in May by the state against the Army Corps of Engineers.

This suit — filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. — is over what the state and City of Wilmington say are problematic expenses and charges the Corps made over several years.

This results in the state being billed, which in turn bills the city.

“There’s a lot of work to be done. The case isn’t fully resolved,” said Fulkerson. “But we’re very excited and very happy that we’ve gotten to a position where we can all move forward and work with (the city) and ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) to get a resolution made.”

According to him, the court said that in regards to original contract terms, the Army Corps could not charge the city and ODNR under the issues of joint use, operation, and maintenance. It was discovered that the Army Corps was adding costs to the annual bills under those terms.

“We sued to stop that improper practice and improper billing,” said Fulkerson.

This means the court found the Army Corps charged improperly and didn’t bill fairly or in good faith. Fulkerson said this was not a very common finding, and called it a big deal.

“(The court) called out the Army Corps for poor record-keeping and improper billing,” he said.

He shared a couple of quotes from the court that he said are significant.

“The United States failed to significantly maintain records,” the court stated, according to Fulkerson. “Even without specific requirements, records must be usable. Here the records are not. Even the park manager who is responsible for purchase requests testified that the records were ‘clear as mud’.”

Fulkerson told council they would be moving on to the next step in the case, which is determining what’s the best way to make things work out. He advised they had been in contact with the Army Corps and are looking forward to coming up with a solution.

Father speaks out

The father of the late Casey Pitzer spoke to council about wanting more to be done in regards to the investigation into his daughter’s death in 2013.

Greg Pitzer claimed he and his family had been lied to and ignored by investigators, and promises had been broken by the city and investigators.

“They call me crazy for asking questions. Everyone who should be able to answer has refused to answer what really happened to my daughter,” he said.

In March 2013, the body of Casey Pitzer, 32, of Sabina, was discovered in a retention pond around SR 73 and US 22/SR3, about a week after she went missing.

Her body was sent to the Miami Valley Crime Lab for an autopsy, and authorities determined the cause of death was drowning.

Family, friends and advocates feel the investigation was mishandled, and that the cause of death was murder and not drowning.

Greg Pitzer has questions as to why certain items weren’t included as evidence. He feels that, given those circumstances, the case should be reopened and investigated.

The Wilmington Police Department recently stated that they are conducting follow-up interviews in regards to the case.

The Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost several weeks ago stated in a letter that, after a review by the Ohio BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) Cold Case Unit, the BCI confirmed the originally determined cause of death, and declined to re-open the case at the state level.

WPD Chief Ron Fithen told the News Journal on Tuesday that they weren’t reopening the case, but will follow through on BCI’s recommendations, including doing follow-up interviews.

Ohio Deputy AG: Outlook positive for Wilmington

By John Hamilton

[email protected]

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574