By Janie Southard
WAPAKONETA -- A special prosecutor's recommendation against following up on charges of violation of election laws concludes the case entirely, according to Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce.
At Tuesday's meeting of the county elections board, Pierce reviewed the recent filing by an independent prosecutor on allegations of wrongdoing on the parts of Common Pleas Judge Frederick Pepple and former elections board director Jean Burklo.
The written conclusion of Robert R. Krapenc submitted last week to the local court said, while Pepple and Burklo did indeed break the law, there was no criminal intent and the matter should be dropped.
The issue centered around a candidacy petition alteration submitted by Pepple and approved by Burklo.
Former elections board employee Ken Nuss, who made those and other allegations pertaining to election board procedures, questioned Pierce at the meeting as to the status of all claims made. Temporary board president Stan Wietholter Pierce answered Nuss' question stating that while he did refer the Pepple/Burklo matter to a special prosecutor, he did not feel "sufficiently involved" in the other claims to have to refer them. "I decided not to prosecute those matters," Pierce said.
Following the meeting, Nuss said he believes Pierce should have stepped aside on all issues. "I think it's a major conflict of interest since he officially represents the board," Nuss said.
According to Nuss the other matters included the elections office under Burklo's direction purchasing materials from Elections Systems and Service with no other bids taken and, secondly, entering ineligible voters into the 2003 computer base.
Burklo was removed from office last year by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell due to improprieties in office. The elections board remains under oversight by Blackwell's office. Oversight means board activities are being personally observed by a Blackwell representative.