Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio
Aug. 3—ASHTABULA — The city of Ashtabula has agreed to pay a former employee $375,000 to settle a grievance.
City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to pay Robert Wolford, a former city police officer, the money over a six-year period. Council members Jane Haines and Kym Foglio casted the “no” votes. The money will come out of the city’s general fund, city officials said.
The incident which led to Wolford filing a grievance occurred on Aug. 21, 2010 in Ashtabula. Wolford reported he chased two black male suspects at 3:52 a.m. near a railroad track at West 38th Street and Station Avenue. At the time, Wolford said he suspected the men were burglars and a struggle with one of the suspects resulted in his gun discharging into his arm.
City officials didn’t believe that’s what happened and fired Wolford twice — once for violating police rules, such as lying and conduct unbecoming of a police officer, and a second time for failure to take a polygraph, according to city officials. However, an arbitrator re-instated Wolford both times.
Then-City Solicitor Michael Franklin charged Wolford with two counts of falsification and two counts of obstruction of official business, according to court records.
Franklin said Wolford shot himself in the arm with his .40 Glock duty weapon in an attempt to gain sympathy from a girlfriend he feared was about to leave him to enlist in the Navy.
In May 2016, Wolford was acquitted in Ashtabula Municipal Court of all charges.
Judge Albert Camplese, who was the sitting judge, said it was evident that both sides had done a lot of work in presenting their case.
Pointing to the DNA evidence — or lack of — on Wolford’s gun and flashlight, Camplese said, “The state didn’t prove the crime.”
After the verdict, Franklin said he respected the judge’s decision and respectfully disagreed with the DNA analysis. The state did not believe the case rested on DNA, but that Wolford’s testimony was riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies, Franklin said.
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