SIDNEY – It may take another 30 days to hear if former Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel of rural Botkins is granted an expungement of his record in a long-disputed 2012 conviction of unauthorized use of a computer. A letter signed by Shelby County Commissioners last year railing against Kimpel’s request was admitted as an exhibit during a hearing on Friday.
The matter came before retired visiting Judge James Brogan of Greene County in Shelby County Common Pleas Court. He twice sought comment from the 65-year-old Kimpel regarding his remorse for committing the crime.
Kimpel did not reply to the remorse aspect of the offense stating it was an effort to have him removed from office as sheriff. Brogan ended the hearing stating he would file a ruling within 30 days.
Officially, the charge of unauthorized use of computer, cable, or telecommunications property, a felony of the fifth-degree, is now a part of Kimpel’s criminal record. The expungement would seal the records from the public. However, government authorities, other defense organizations, law officials and other such agencies would have access to the records, according to Shelby County Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Lowe.
On Friday, Lowe and Kimpel’s attorney Thomas Buecker of Piqua agreed before Brogan that a recent background check indicated Kimpel would qualify for the expungement.
Comments in the Dec. 18, 2018, letter from county commissioners Tony Bornhorst, Julie Ehemann and Bob Guillozet voiced their objection to the expungement.
It read, “Mr. Kimpel was an elected official with Shelby County serving as our sheriff when he committed this offense. We firmly believe the public holds elected officials to a high standard of conduct and, as elected officials, we work to conduct ourselves in that manner.”
It continued, “Mr. Kimpel did not behave in a manner appropriate for an elected official as his record accurately reflects. We firmly believe it is inappropriate to attempt to sweep this behavior under the rug when he has not shown any remorse for his behavior.
“For several years now, Dean Kimpel has fought to have the decision overturned and has lost that appeal in every court available to him. He has cost the county and the taxpayers thousands of dollars both in initial investigation and the appeals that have ensued since then.
In ending the statement, commissioners wrote, “We believe that the public has the right to review his case and be aware of his record in the future; an expungement would prevent them from a review of the facts.”
Lowe said the state’s concern was echoed in the letter.
Buecker told Brogan that Kimpel has had no contact with the commissioners for a long period of time and opposed their claims he had no remorse. Buecker said Kimpel proved his remorsefulness when he pleaded guilty to the charge.
Kimpel grew agitated when Brogan continued to ask if he was remorseful for committing the offense. The former sheriff stated the plea negotiated conviction later led to a discovery of undisclosed evidence involving a sexual battery charge in Auglaize County.
Kimpel said, “It’s like the state is trying to punish me for fighting for my civil rights.”
Brogan asked again if he was remorseful.
Kimpel stated, “No laws were violated for me to be removed from office.”
Kimpel was twice denied requests to change his guilty plea in the case through previous decisions reached in Shelby County Common Pleas Court and Third District Court of Appeals in Lima.
The actions stemmed from Kimpel attempting to prove the state withheld vital evidence that would have prevented his decision to plead guilty. In that case, he was accused of using the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway computer to illegally look up individuals for personal purposes.
On April 13, 2012, Kimpel pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of a computer through his then-attorney Michael Rumer of Lima.
Later that year, he resigned as sheriff and was fined and sentenced to two years of community control for the offense. A charge of sexual battery filed against him in Auglaize County was dismissed, as part of a plea agreement.
On May 12, 2017, in Kimpel’s civil rights case, a daylong hearing focused on a vital piece of evidence used in a sexual battery investigation against him during the same time as the computer offense. Kimpel claimed the evidence was misused to coerce a guilty plea from him for the computer use offense.
That day, Kimpel claimed he was denied due process when the evidence was withheld from him. He contended his sixth amendment rights were violated when investigators and prosecutors misconduct prevented him from bringing a civil lawsuit sooner.
On July 27, 2017, Brogan ruled the state did not withhold vital information. On June 12, the decision rendered by a three-judge panel with the Third District Court of Appeals upheld the local court’s decision. The Lima appeals court records refer to the action of Kimpel originally accepting a plea agreement to lessen the charges he was facing at the time.
He was seeking the right to withdraw his plea claiming vital evidence was not disclosed by prosecutors at the time. The original case eventually led to Kimpel being ousted as sheriff.
On July 27, attorney Jeremy Tomb of Troy, representing Kimpel, filed a 36-page memorandum with the Ohio Supreme Court claiming reasons his client had been denied proper justice. Tomb’s focus was on the Garrity Rights law that protects public officials from incriminating themselves; and the Brady ruling that deals with the prosecution withholding information from the defendant.
On Aug. 27, Lowe filed a memorandum claiming no court errors were committed and all proper steps were taken by investigators. He stated that two previous courts had “correctly decided these well-settled issues.”
The Ohio Supreme Court would not hear the appeal case. The decision was expected to end ongoing legal action between Kimpel and county officials.