BY DAN HORN
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Norwood Police Chief Timothy Brown faces up to 15 years in prison following his indictment Monday on charges of lying about his involvement in an auto accident.
Mr. Brown was formally charged and released a few hours after a Hamilton County grand jury indicted him on three counts of tampering with evidence and two counts of tampering with records.
The chief, who was suspended without pay last week, is accused of filing a false police report to cover up his role in a Dec. 5 accident involving his new Jeep Cherokee.
Prosecutor Joseph Deters said Mr. Brown filed a phony report shortly after he crashed the Jeep into a utility pole on Indian Mound Avenue in Pleasant Ridge.
He made a big mistake, Mr. Deters said Monday. He admonished his staff to go out and find his car when he knew in his heart what had really happened.
The grand jury's decision came just days after Norwood Mayor Joseph Hochbein suspended Mr. Brown for 60 days without pay.
At the time, the mayor said Mr. Brown had admitted he lied about the accident and acknowledged he had been drinking.
After learning of the indictment Monday, Mr. Hochbein said the chief's future with the city depends in large part on the outcome of his criminal case. He said Mr. Brown, 46, would be placed on indefinite administrative leave until the case is resolved.
This has been a difficult time for the city and the Norwood Police Department, Mr. Hochbein said. Nonetheless, the city has been completely forthright in reporting its findings.
Mr. Brown could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Deters said Norwood officials cooperated fully with the prosecutor's investigation, which concluded that Mr. Brown acted alone in his alleged attempt to falsify records.
Asked if the charges would cost Mr. Brown his job, Mr. Deters said that decision probably depends on how he fares in court.
You can't be the chief of police if you're in jail, he said.
Although the case involved a high-profile law enforcement officer, Mr. Deters said his office treated Mr. Brown's case like any other criminal investigation.
It's very important that people in public service be held to the same standard as everybody else, he said.
Mr. Hochbein has said the investigation began soon after the chief reported his Jeep stolen. He said the accident occurred in the early morning. had been stolen from his driveway.
He also called a Norwood auto-repair shop and had it towed there.
Mr. Hochbein said the chief recanted his story two days later and was immediately suspended. The mayor said Mr. Brown also agreed to attend an alcohol counseling program, which he began last week.
The chief's indictment is the latest in a series of alleged misconduct by employees in several city departments, ranging from high-ranking fire officials to a clerical worker in the water department.
In an interview last week, Mr. Hochbein said the city is going through a difficult transition period.
Things are going to be aired out, he said, and some of those things are going to be unpleasant.