Franklin County Judge Ted Barrows described Marc Dann's plea as an Alford plea, in which a defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction but does not admit wrongdoing.
Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann pleaded guilty Friday to two ethics violations involving payments to staff from campaign and office transition funds.
Dann’s attorney told Franklin County Judge Ted Barrows that his client pleaded guilty to the charges. Barrows described the plea as an Alford plea, in which a defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction but does not admit wrongdoing.
“I take full responsibility for the mistakes I’ve made,” Dann said in court.
“I can’t tell you how sorry I am to be here, almost as sorry as you,” Barrows responded.
The judge convicted Dann, fined him $1,000 and sentenced him to perform 500 hours of community service.
Dann was the first former attorney general in recent Ohio memory to face criminal charges for breaking the law.
The Democrat from Youngstown was elected in 2006 on a pledge to voters that he would clean up after a Republican investment scandal that reached from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to the governor’s office. Barely into his first term, a sexual harassment scandal involving top aides broke out, ultimately leading to his resignation and the later convictions of three allies and his estranged wife, Alyssa Lenhoff.
One charge involved campaign funds Dann allegedly gave to two former aides to pay rent and utilities for a condominium in northwest Columbus and a residence in a neighborhood north of downtown. The charge also involves a $5,000 loan Dann made from his elected office’s transition account to one of those aides.
The second charge alleged that Dann knowingly filed a false financial disclosure form.
The first charge is similar to one already used to prosecute the aides, Leo Jennings and Anthony Gutierrez.
Gutierrez, an aide and friend who ran Dann’s general services office, pleaded guilty in August to six charges including theft in office and unauthorized use of state property. He acknowledged taking room and board for a Columbus condominium from a Dann political account.
Gutierrez also admitted to accepting an unreported $5,000 loan from the political account Dann used to handle his transition to office in 2007.
Leo Jennings, Dann’s one-time communications chief, pleaded guilty in March to accepting more than $15,000 in supplemental income from the committees and for funneling money to Gutierrez for rent on a condominium.
Dann, a lawyer and former Democratic state senator, won an unlikely victory in a Democratic sweep of four of five statewide offices, defeating longtime GOP state officeholder Betty Montgomery.
As the sexual harassment scandal unraveled, Dann admitted having an extramarital affair with a subordinate.
At the time the scandal became known, Jennings and Gutierrez were sharing the condo with Dann. Investigations found evidence that the three men hosted young female staffers on the premises, sometimes for alcohol-laced pizza parties. One of the alleged harassment incidents took place there.
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