Ravenna officers to testify

By Deanna Hohler Bottar Record-Courier staff writ Published:

Several Ravenna police officers have been subpoenaed to testify before a Portage County grand jury concerning allegations of misconduct against suspended police Chief Michael Swartout.

Swartout was put on paid administrative leave Dec. 24 after allegations concerning his conduct at a Dec. 4 Christmas party at the Rootstown home of Officer Jerry Giulitto were brought to Ravenna Mayor Paul Jones.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci called in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification to conduct an investigation into allegations Swartout fired his police firearm twice at the gathering and also was a passenger in a Ravenna police cruiser driven by on-duty Officer Ed O'Neil to a drive-thru in Ravenna.

BCI finished its investigation and turned the results back over to Vigluicci's office last month. At that point, Vigluicci said his options were to take the case to a grand jury to determine if Swartout should be indicted, to continue the investigation or to ask BCI to take another look at the situation.

The grand jury meets secretly and determines whether criminal charges should be filed after hearing evidence from the prosecutor's office, witnesses and law enforcement officials.

Since the allegations against Swartout arose, the department also has undergone an internal investigation to determine if any of the other officers at the gathering broke departmental rules and regulations. That probe was turned over to special counsel Gary Johnson, who was hired to handle the Swartout situation.

Swartout's wife, Lisa Swartout, was fired from her position as Ravenna police dispatcher last week after a hearing concerning allegations she listened in on calls concerning the internal inquiry and also shut off the department's 911 recording system for two hours during January to eavesdrop on phone conversations within the department.

Mrs. Swartout also is accused of making a recording of at least one conversation.

A grievance has been filed on Mrs. Swartout's behalf, saying she did not receive a proper hearing.

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