The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 14, 2012

Second pretrial set in Ashtabula police officer’s case

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — A police officer, who was fired for insubordination in February 2011, will be back in court in 45 days after a very short appearance Thursday.

Patrolman Robert Wolford, 41, appeared for a pretrial in Municipal Court, but after his attorney, Thomas M. Hanculak of Cleveland, and City Solicitor Michael Franklin met behind closed doors, they asked the court to schedule a second pretrial in 45 days to allow Franklin more time for “supplemental discovery.”

Municipal Court Judge Albert Camplese granted the request.

Wolford, who declined comment, is charged with falsification and obstructing official business, according to court records.

Police reports show Wolford was shot in the arm with his own gun in August 2010, but later, city officials said he refused to take a polygraph test about the incident.

“The account of the shooting has been determined to be false,” Franklin said.

Consequently, Wolford has been charged with two counts of falsification and two counts of obstructing official business, Municipal Court records show. He pleaded not guilty to all counts and is free on a $4,500 personal bond, court records show.

After Wolford was terminated by the city, he took the matter to arbitration and the arbitrator ruled in his favor.

The arbitrator was chosen by the police union and the city.

Franklin said the city is appealing the ruling in Common Pleas Court. “We don’t believe he (the arbitrator) applied the correct law in the situation,” he said.

On Aug. 21, 2010, Wolford said he was shot at 3:52 a.m. near West 38th Street along a section of railroad tracks while chasing two fleeing suspects, police reports said.

At the time, Wolford said he suspected the men were burglars and a struggle with one of the suspects resulted in his gun discharging, according to police reports.

In a Feb. 2, 2011 letter, Police Chief Robert Stell and former Lt. John Koski warned Wolford about alleged non compliance with police department orders and procedures, including not honoring subpoenas and not showing up for a grand jury.

Wolford is not employed with the city at this time.