Liberty Township Trustee Tom Mitchell has called for the person who sent confidential documents to the township’s former fiscal officer, Mark Gerber, to come forward and identify himself.
“The person who shared the privileged documents knows who they are,” Mitchell said at a Tuesday morning meeting of trustees. “I’m making a public call that they identify themselves.”
Gerber distributed a packet of information at the trustees’ July 5 meeting that included a document that trustees claim is protected by “attorney-client privilege” because it was emailed to trustees by the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office. The subject was the township’s opt-out insurance program for some township employees, which Gerber insists was done legally.
Nancy Denutte, the township’s current fiscal officer, said the program is not compliant with the Ohio Revised Code during the same July 5 meeting.
Mitchell said the email was sent to Gerber by a township resident. “They’re a very reliable source and they have documentation,” he said. “No one has come forward and made it public yet.”
The township’s program allows some employees to opt out of health insurance and receive cash instead. “We are 100 percent out of compliance,” Denutte said July 5.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Gerber spoke about the history and legality of the opt-out program. That’s when he distributed the contested packet of information to back up his claims.
Leneghan, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, claimed July 5 that a document in Gerber’s packet — that he distributed to trustees and others in attendance — was protected by attorney-client privilege.
“How is Mr. Gerber in receipt of attorney-client information?” Leneghan asked July 5.
“It showed up in my email,” Gerber replied.
Gerber had no comment when reached by The Gazette Tuesday afternoon.
The document Leneghan questioned Gerber about was marked in bold letters “Attorney-Client Privileged” concerning the opt-out insurance program and was addressed to trustees and the fiscal officer.
“Even though the names had been redacted, you can see it’s from the county prosecutor’s office,” Gerber said July 5.
Trustees and Denutte had asked for an opinion on the legality of the program. The prosecutor’s office did not offer an opinion because of insufficient information, the email indicates.
Mitchell said Tuesday that, after trustees returned from a closed-door executive session July 5, Leneghan called the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office. “She left a voice mail,” Mitchell said.
Tracy Whited, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said Monday that she had not heard about a complaint from Liberty trustees.
“There’s nothing that’s criminally involved, as much as Trustee Leneghan thought,” Mitchell said Tuesday. “I would like that person to say they did it.”
“The person who did it has every right to break the privilege,” Mitchell said. “They must have thought they were doing something illegal because they redacted the header and the names.”
“Even if it’s not an earth-shattering document, it’s still breaking confidentiality,” Mitchell said. “So the intent is what I’m upset about.”
“We need to be honest and trust each other,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he looks forward to putting the email issue behind them and moving on because it has wasted the time of township staff with many calls requesting public documents around the issue.
“It’s nothing criminal but I just want to get it over with,” Mitchell said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.