MOUNT VERNON — Attorney Scott Pullins filed an affidavit in Knox County Common Pleas Court on Friday in support of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate county commissioner Robert S. Wise.
In the affidavit, Pullins suggests that a special prosecutor, independent of the offices of Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher and Mount Vernon City Law Director William Smith, be appointed to investigate four charges against Wise which were not pursued by the incumbent officials.
“This is a process that is within the regulations of the state of Ohio to review a prosecutor and possibly appoint a special prosecutor,” Pullins said.
Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster agreed, although he said it is a fairly unusual maneuver. He said that he will review the affidavit in detail and rule on the petition after the Presidents Day holiday, as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
Prosecutor Thatcher declined to comment before reviewing the affidavit at greater length, except to say that the normal procedure is for the county or municipal prosecutor to file a motion for a special prosecutor when the prosecuting official believes there may be a conflict of interest between the prosecution of the law in question and his own position as legal counsel for county officials.
The four counts alleged in Pullins’ affidavit to need further investigation are: 1) That Wise threatened employees at the CES Credit Union with deadly harm on April 18, 2007; 2) that Wise, as proprietor of Wise Choice Propane LLC, had an unlawful interest in a public contract in 2005 when his company allegedly removed a propane tank owned by Mount Vernon Bottled Gas that was leased to the Knox County Airport Authority, and replaced it with a tank that was owned by Wise Choice Propane LLC; 3) that Wise has an unlawful interest in the public contract between the Knox County Fairgrounds and the Knox County Commissioners approved on Sept. 7, 2005, by the Knox County Fair Board, even though Wise is a sitting member of the board of county commissioners; and 4) that it has been regular practice of Wise and Wise Choice Propane LLC to tamper with the propane tanks of his competitors by either draining or filling these competitor-owned tanks, or by removing them and replacing them with tanks owned by Wise Choice Propane LLC.
Reached for comment Friday afternoon before he had seen a copy of the affidavit, Wise said he could only comment indirectly about the allegations.
“The Ohio Ethics Committee has cleared me of all of these charges except the threat, where I was cleared by the bank president, the Mount Vernon law director and the Mount Vernon Police,” Wise said.
Pullins said a civil suit will also be filed against Wise and Wise Choice Propane LLC by Wilhelm Bottled Gas regarding alleged tampering with propane tanks and other unfair business practices, the allegations of which were first reported in the Feb. 4 edition of the News.