Wellington puts officer on paid administrative leave
The jailer may have tipped a man accused of being a drug dealer that he was being investigated.
YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Sheriff Randall Wellington has placed corrections officer Ryan Freeman of Warren on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of criminal charges filed against Freeman last week.
Wellington said Freeman, 30, who is charged with felonies of unauthorized use of a law-enforcement database and obstruction of justice, has worked as a full-time Mahoning County corrections officer since Jan. 21, 2007.
No disciplinary matters have arisen during Freeman’s three years with the jail, Wellington said.
Freeman also works as a police officer with the Braceville Township Police Department, but no one from the department could be reached to comment Tuesday afternoon.
The Trumbull Ashtabula Law Enforcement Task Force charged Freeman Friday after receiving information that Freeman used the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway database to look at information on Fred D. Johnson, 39, of 714 Homewood Ave. S.E. in Warren and two Trumbull County law enforcement officers.
Lt. Jeff Orr of TAG said officers believe Johnson and Brandi L. Purbaugh, 26, also of 714 Homewood, were in Freeman’s 2631 Front Street S.W. home in December when Freeman was accessing the database, which is exclusively for the use of law enforcement.
By accessing the information, Freeman may have alerted Johnson that TAG had also looked up information on Johnson, which would have alerted Johnson that TAG was investigating him at the time, Orr said.
The obstructing charge against Freeman stems from Freeman’s possibly hampering TAG’s investigation, Orr said.
Meanwhile, Johnson and Purbaugh both waived preliminary hearings Tuesday in Warren Municipal Court and their cases were bound over to a Trumbull County grand jury.
Both are charged with aggravated drug trafficking, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
TAG arrested Johnson and Purbaugh Jan. 16 after conducting surveillance on a Wallace Street Southeast residence and following a vehicle from there.
The occupants of the vehicle, believed to be Johnson and Purbaugh, abandoned the car on Belvedere Avenue and ran from officers on foot.
Officers using police dogs found heroin and cocaine in yards nearby and later arrested Johnson and Purbaugh.