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OHIO Justice says stolen $18K meant for his home



Published: Fri, February 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



O'Donnell says he always keeps cash at his house.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell said Thursday that $18,000 stolen from his car in Cleveland was money he meant to put in a bank account to cover remodeling costs for two houses near Port Clinton.

Explaining a situation that he acknowledged looked "very odd," O'Donnell said he took the cash from his home in suburban Cleveland on Feb. 15, intending to deposit it on his way to Columbus.

Instead, depositing the $18,000 "skipped my mind," he said. He kept it overnight in his Columbus apartment, then stored it in an overnight bag in his car at the court on Feb. 16th while listening to lawyers argue several cases.

He intended to deposit the money before a speech in Cleveland that night but ran late, and left the money in his state-issued car. His car was parked in Cleveland's Flats riverfront entertainment district while he was being honored as St. Edward High School's 2004 Alumnus of the Year.

'I would like it back'

O'Donnell said the money was needed to pay for repairs to a Lake Erie house with burst pipes and one next door damaged in a small fire. He owns both homes.

O'Donnell said he keeps large amounts of cash at home out of habit. He said he's unlikely to stop the practice despite the theft.

"I recognize that this is very odd," O'Donnell said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "But I also recognize ... that it's my money, and I would like it back."

Court spokesman Chris Davey said O'Donnell has asked the state to reimburse him $190 for window repairs. The court's insurance policy would not cover the stolen money, Davey said. A police report also said that a briefcase containing "private and special papers" was missing.

O'Donnell, 59, a Republican, was appointed to the court in 2003 by Gov. Bob Taft and elected to his first six-year term last year.

He's the second Supreme Court justice to make headlines in a month. Justice Alice Robie Resnick, a Toledo Democrat, pleaded guilty to drunken driving Feb. 7 after initially driving away from police who wanted her to take a sobriety test.

He's seen fire and rain

O'Donnell told a complicated story involving his two houses that suffered near simultaneous damage.

The first, a new house O'Donnell and his wife, Mary Beth, plan to move into, had burst pipes and water damage around the first of the year.

About three weeks ago, a fire probably caused by a heater wire damaged walls and the carpet at the house next door, which they intend to sell, he said.




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