The former police chief of Shawnee Hills — accused of theft in office — will be tried before a jury in May.
Sean LeFever, 43, of 3070 Essington Drive, Dublin, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Wednesday afternoon and entered a not-guilty plea to four counts of theft in office, which are fifth-degree felonies.
LeFever’s attorney, Sam Shamansky, was unable to attend the arraignment but sent partner Donald Regensburger in his stead.
Regensburger told county Common Pleas Magistrate Anna Franceschelli that LeFever had worked at the village of Shawnee Hills Police Department for 11 years, serving as chief for five years. Regensburger added that since LeFever’s indictment on Dec. 29, LeFever has tendered his resignation.
Franceschelli accepted LeFever’s not-guilty plea and scheduled a trial for May 3, with a final pretrial hearing on April 11 at 3:30 p.m. Court documents say the trial is scheduled to take two days. Judge David Gormley will preside over the trial.
Franceschelli also released LeFever on a recognizance bond but said he faced a $2,000 fine if he violated the terms of his bond. LeFever was also ordered not to have any contact with employees at Shawnee Hills or potential witnesses in the case.
The mayor of Shawnee Hills, Pat Monahan, confirmed Wednesday that LeFever resigned on Jan. 16 and acting police chief Russell Baron was then promoted to police chief.
“[LeFever] has a long history of public service,” Regensburger said. Regensburger noted that LeFever served in the U.S. Army until a medical discharge in 1991.
Prosecutors allege between May 5, 2014, and June 15, 2015, LeFever received improper compensation and the charges are related to LeFever’s work-time reporting.
The investigation began in July and Monahan said in August that he allowed LeFever to keep track of his own time because it wasn’t uncommon for him to work from home.
Monahan said he and Shawnee Hills Village Council are looking at a better way to submit time sheets.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, penalties for fifth-degree felonies include between six and 12 months in prison, a fine of up to $2,500 or a probation period.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.