Thursday, February 9th, 2023
Thursday, February 9th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Officers reprimanded for writing support letters

Columbus — Six employees of the DNR were sanctioned for writing letters to a federal judge in support of a former Brown County wildlife officer recently sentenced for violations of the wildlife Lacey Act.

Division of Wildlife officers Jim Carnes, Chris Gilkey, Eric Lamb, Michael Ohlrich, Rick Rogers and Division of Watercraft Officer Darren Barnett each received a written reprimand for writing the letters, which became part of Allan Wright’s federal court case in Cincinnati.

The six state employees were reprimanded because the letters involved either state computers, DOW stationary, or were written while on duty, according to Bethany McCorkle, deputy director of communications for the DOW. Had the officers written the letters as private citizens, there would have been no need for agency action, McCorkle said.

“As a result of your listing a state phone number and signing as a state wildlife officer in the letter, the letters became public and brought discredit to the agency,” the letters of reprimand stated.

The officers were informed that the letters will remain in their personnel files for 12 months and will be removed if there has been no additional discipline imposed during the one-year period.

The letters of written reprimand cited the officers as “exercising poor judgment” when on or about Feb. 22 they responded to a personal request from Wright’s wife to write pre-sentencing letters of support to Judge Michael Barrett of the federal court in Cincinnati.

Judge Barrett noted he read the letters among several that were attached to Wright’s pre-sentence court memorandum filed by his attorney, H. Louis Sirkin of Cincinnati.

Barrett sentenced Wright in July to three months of home confinement as part of five years of supervised probation. Wright pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of trafficking in and making false records for illegally harvested white-tailed deer.

In addition to probation, home confinement and assessing a $1,000 fine, Barrett restricted Wright from hunting worldwide during his probation, and only using a firearm if he is certified as a peace officer.

Wright had been recently working as a security officer at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. As a result of the sentencing in Ohio, the university ruled Wright could no longer be a member of its security or police force, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

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