FOSTORIA, Ohio – An attorney challenging the authority of the city's police chief wants the department's police dog to appear in court as an exhibit, because he says the dog and the chief have criminal justice degrees from the same online school.
The issue gives "one pause, if not paws, for concern" about what it takes to get the degrees from the school based in the Virgin Islands, Gene Murray wrote in a court document filed Monday.
Murray is seeking to have a drug charge against a client dismissed by arguing that police Chief John McGuire — who is accused of lying on his job application — was not legally employed and had no authority as an officer.
McGuire is to go on trial in March on charges of falsification and tampering with records. A special prosecutor said McGuire lied on his application and resume about his rank, position, duties, responsibilities and salary in three of his previous jobs.
McGuire was hired as chief of this northwest Ohio city a year ago.
The union that represents Fostoria police officers and dispatchers filed a lawsuit challenging McGuire's hiring.
Murray said asking that the police dog, Rocko, show up in court at an evidence hearing is a key to discrediting McGuire, who took part in a traffic stop and search in October that resulted in drug possession charges against Clifford Green of Fostoria.
Both McGuire and Rocko, who is listed as John I. Rocko on his diploma, are graduates of Concordia College and University, according to copies of diplomas that are part of Murray's motion.
The court filing did not say how the attorney knows that diploma is for the dog or how Rocko allegedly managed to enroll in the college.
"My client had absolutely nothing to do with any animal getting a degree from an institution of higher learning," said McGuire's attorney, Dean Henry. "The whole thing is bizarre."
He said the dog was with the department before McGuire began working there.
Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert said he will ask the judge to deny the request and limit the hearing to matters that are relevant.
"I don't think it's necessary to bring the actual dog," Egbert said.
A date has not been set for the evidence hearing.
City leaders have said McGuire's hiring was not influenced by his college degree, and any confusion about his background was resolved during interviews.
"We've already been through all that," Safety Service Director Bill Rains. "That was answered to our satisfaction."
Fostoria is about 35 miles southeast of Toledo.