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Sheriff questions need for special prosecutor

NEW LEXINGTON – The same laws should apply to everyone, said Amy Nash English, Democratic candidate for Perry County Sheriff. She alleges four term Republican incumbent William R. Barker, omitted important information from his application for candidacy. Barker was clear he had no intention to deceive anyone and his application to run for sheriff includes all information relating to his law enforcement career.

“This was a sworn affidavit,” said English. Official documents are based on sworn affidavits, she said, and an incomplete application for candidacy sets a precedent for providing incomplete information on other official documents, like search warrants.

English said Barker’s application didn’t include that he attended the 147th Regional Training Institute at Rickenbacker Air Force Base and is a Master Sergeant with the Ohio National Guard. Nor did he include in the application that he is a former instructor at Zane State College, and he that he has an associate’s degree from Zane State College (formerly Muskingum Area Technical College).

English asked the county prosecutor to look into the issue. Perry County Prosecutor Joe Flautt’s office will appoint a special prosecutor to review Barker’s application; the special prosecutor was yet to be appointed as of Wednesday.

“People don’t realize this is a constitutional issue,” said English. “We don’t live in a military state. The police need to be kept in check.” She said she contacted nearly 10 police chiefs who told her they wouldn’t hire someone who submitted an incomplete application. English said election laws are set for specific reasons. “Without them, throw the law book out the window,” she said.

Wednesday, Barker was clear he made no attempt at deceit whatsoever. “It was not my intent to mislead anyone,” he said, adding that his previous applications for sheriff have similar information. Barker said he included all information relating to his law enforcement experience because that’s what he believed the application required. He said he’s served 30 years with the Ohio National Guard. “I’m proud of that service,” he said. And, he taught for more than 20 years, but stopped doing so last year.

Barker said English is questioning his integrity and wants to have him criminally investigated over his application. He’s disappointed as well that the county will have to spend even more taxpayer’s money for a special prosecutor when he believes Flautt’s office could conduct an investigation fairly and impartially, “no matter who was being investigated.”

Barker isn’t sure how soon an investigation would begin or whether it would conclude ahead of the November election. “We’ll just have to see where this goes,” he said.

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