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Kent State University to keep instructor convicted on drug, weapon charges

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published: February 14, 2013 4:00 AM
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Kent State University has no plans to remove an instructor and former campus police official from the classroom after his conviction on felony weapon and drug possession charges.

Daniel FitzPatrick, 57, of Paris, was sentenced Jan. 28 by Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow to enter a drug treatment program after pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon, a fourth-degree felony, possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony and operating a vehicle under the influence, a first-degree misdemeanor. The drug treatment sentence vacates his guilty pleas, and the felony convictions will be dismissed if he completes the one-year program.

KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield issued a statement Wednesday that said although the university does not condone FitzPatrick's behavior, "we accept the court's recommendation of treatment in lieu of conviction."

He said KSU employee policies, which in part state, "...to be involved in the possession, use, distribution of and sale of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited," are designed to address on-campus employee conduct in the course of their duties.

"Mr. FitzPatrick's actions took place off campus and did not involve his employment with the university," Mansfield said. "He has acknowledged his mistakes in open court and accepted an agreement to attend treatment and monitoring under the court's supervision."

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KSU's online employee resource manual states that "the university does not tolerate certain acts and behaviors which are unproductive and detrimental to the university." The manual lists behaviors that the university does not tolerate, which include immoral conduct, violation of any KSU policy or work rule and conviction of a felony.

FitzPatrick began his police career at the KSU Police Department in 1978. He rose to the rank of assistant chief before his retirement in 2008, and began teaching criminal justice studies before his retirement from the campus police force.

FitzPatrick's pleas stem from a Dec. 25, 2011 traffic stop in which a Ohio Highway Patrol officer found a loaded 9 mm gun and a recently outlawed synthetic drug known as bath salts. A blood test found traces marijuana in his system, according to court records.

Public documents from KSU show that FitzPatrick's reappointment to part-time instructor was offered twice by Sociology Department chairman and professor Richard Serpe since the incident -- on Aug. 3, 2012 and Dec. 5, 2012. FitzPatrick is teaching two classes this semester. A request for correspondence and disciplinary matters regarding FitzPatrick since the Dec. 2011 incident yielded no results.

"Mr. FitzPatrick's performance as an instructor has not been affected by these activities, and his student evaluations remain good," Mansfield said. "As such, Mr. FitzPatrick remains an adjunct for the spring semester."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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anonymous Feb 15, 2013 10:04 AM

ohio revised code 2951.041 reads as follows...

If the court finds under division (B) of this section that the offender is eligible for intervention in lieu of conviction and grants the offender's request, the court shall accept the offender's plea of guilty and waiver of the defendant's right to a speedy trial, the preliminary hearing, the time period within which the grand jury may consider an indictment against the offender, and arraignment, unless the hearing, indictment, or arraignment has already occurred. In addition, the court then may stay all criminal proceedings and order the offender to comply with all terms and conditions imposed by the court pursuant to division (D) of this section.

therefore the criminal proceedings have currently been stayed, pending the outcome of the treatment program.at this time there is only a record of intervention in lieu on record, and not a conviction on the basis of ORC 2951.041.. defendant must follow rules as though they were a convicted felon, but currently.... LEGALLY, individual is NOT a convicted felon. until such time that the defendant has actually been found guilty, AND sentenced the individual is NOT a convicted felon.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 9:13 AM

The drug treatment sentence vacates his guilty pleas, "and the FELONY CONVICTIONS will be DISMISSED "IF" he completes the one-year program.... Just going by the article... He's a convicted felon....ONLY "IF" he completes his 1 year program, will the felony convictions be dismissed. Right now he is a convicted felon teaching students at KSU. How can you dismiss a felony at the end of the program, unless you have been convicted of a felony? It's a get out of jail free card.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 1:52 AM

Redleg6, the individual is NOT a convicted felon at this time, period. Hence the term treatment in lieu of conviction. just because an individual pleads guilty when this is offered, does not immediately deem them a felon. go look it up in the ohio revised code. So, as of now... he is NOT a felon. he is under the jurisdiction of the portage county probation department until he either successfully completes, or fails to complete his treatment program. At that time, either all charges will be dismissed (upon successful completion), or he will be convicted if he fails to complete the program. Currently under the eyes of the law, and the ohio revised code, he is NOT a convicted felon period. I am not arguing what is right or wrong only just stating the fact that he hasn't been convicted.

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 7:58 PM


Excellence at setting standards for double standards.

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 3:47 PM

What's disturbing is the driving around high, with a concealed, loaded, 9mm pistol. How does one beat that charge?

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 2:52 PM

Interesting that if this had been a student, the would have been let go from the university. But they keep a part time professor, who is not tenured and could easily be replaced by dozens of other qualified people. Not a great example for the students that attend KSU.

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 2:33 PM

Wha-da-ya expect..... it's Kent.......and from the actions of our judges I think they want equal billing and want the citizens of the surrounding counties to start saying Wha-da-ya expect...it's Portage County....or are they already saying that?...................

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 1:49 PM

"the felony convictions will be dismissed if he completes the one-year program", according to the above article. As of now, he is a Felon. Possible classes to be offered @ KSU this spring: "Plea Deals for Dummies" "Felonies for the Soul" "The ABC's of the "Devil(drugs)Made Me Do it Defense" and "How to be a Mope with a Salary"... All classes are funded by a grant from "The Portage County Discount House of Justice, Lowest Sentences, Always... No Plea Deal Refused"!!!

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 12:44 PM

according to the article, the man pled guilty, and is currently participating in an intervention in lieu of conviction opportunity. He has not been convicted of anything at this time. if he were to be suspended he would quite possibly get adminstrative leave pay anyway.The man should be allowed to work his job and participate in his treatment program.if for whatever reason he is unsuccessful, the university could address this issue further.

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 10:24 AM

One might wish, (as a KSU alumnus) the university would at least suspend him till he proves himself by successfully completing the one-year program. Wishful thinking, clearly.

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 8:15 AM

The defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and the KSU professors are the Most Highly Educated, the Best, the Brightest, the Cream of the Crop. These folks are what this educational system produces. Who are we to question the decisions of such esteemed people?

anonymous Feb 14, 2013 7:04 AM

once again that auto response kicks in

"what do ya expect?.... it's Kent"

You would think after time both the university and the city would get tired of being viewed in this way by the residents of the surrounding area.