Friday, March 7, 2003

Grand jury hears Deters testimony in theft case

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio Treasurer Joseph Deters and his chief assistant testified before a Hamilton County grand jury this week involving a theft from the prosecutor's office when Deters served as its chief.


Pete Marshall, a former prosecutor's office investigator, was indicted last month on three counts of theft in office, accused of taking $2,817 in December 1996. Marshall, 58, faces up to four years in prison.

"I testified before the grand jury," Deters said Thursday night. "I voluntarily went in there and told them what I knew."

He said the questions dealt with the theft Marshall is accused of, but declined to comment specifically about his testimony.

In January Deters said Hamilton County sheriff's deputies had questioned him about the theft and asked whether he had covered it up. Deters told them he remembered something missing from the property room, but that it wasn't an unusual occurrence. He said he never heard about theft allegations.

Jim Harper, who was Deters' chief assistant prosecutor and is now his top aide, also was questioned about the theft.

Harper, too, testified before the grand jury this week. He could not be reached for comment.

The theft came to light when money turned up missing late last year. Current Prosecutor Mike Allen turned the case over to the sheriff's office, which opened an investigation.

Attorney Pierce Cunningham has been appointed special prosecutor on the case and is being assisted by James Applegate.

Cunningham did not a return a phone call for comment.

Attorney William Whalen, who represents Marshall, said prosecutors approached him saying that if Marshall could implicate other people, it would be "taken into consideration."

"Pete said there isn't anybody who he could turn for them," Whalen said. "Then he added, `If they want me to say Joe (Deters) knew about it, I'll go to prison before I lie.'"

Marshall now works for Hamilton County Juvenile Court, where he was placed on leave pending the outcome of his case.

His trial is scheduled for March 17.


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