CHAMPION TWP., Ohio (WYTV) – A Champion Township police officer facing over a dozen charges pleaded guilty Tuesday morning.
Robert Koehler was charged with 16 felony counts of unauthorized use of property, including computer, cable or telecommunications property.
Prosecutors said between 2015 and 2017, Koehler used Ohio’s Law Enforcement Gateway (OLEG) at least 16 times for private reasons, using his Champion or West Farmington credentials while working as a security officer for Nelson Ledges Quarry Park.
“Prospective people were coming in for employment there, and he was running background checks on them, and there was also an allegation that he looked up a female here in Trumbull County presumably because he had some type of romantic or more interest in her,” said Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker. “That is prohibited by law. It is a system where law enforcement officers can access personal information and is to be used specifically for criminal investigations. It cannot be used privately.”
His guilty plea Tuesday was an effort to get the case over with quickly, according to his attorney Gary Rich.
“He did not want to show any disrespect to the courts and tie up the system,” Rich said.
Koehler will be booked and released from jail on a personal bond. He’ll also undergo a pre-sentence investigation.Champion Twp. police officer facing over a dozen charges placed on administrative leave
Champion Township Police Chief Jeffery White said the Attorney General’s Office first contacted him about the accusations last year. After White said he found evidence himself, he sought help on the investigation from BCI.
“He’s always honorably served our county. Unfortunately, through a great lapse of judgment, he did something foolish,” Rich said.
Koehler was placed on unpaid administrative leave from their department, which he’s been a part of for 34 years. He was also the police chief in West Farmington and Craig Beach, according to the departments’ websites.
As part of the plea agreement, Koehler will permanently forfeit his peace officer certification.
“It’s a serious blow to him after 35 years. It’s tragic and our county is going to suffer a great loss,” Rich said.