Let there be no misunder- standing: Former Lowellville Police Chief Richard Jamrozik wasn’t convicted of jaywalking or taking his cruiser on a joyride.
The crimes to which Jamrozik pleaded guilty or no contest are extremely serious. Indeed, there’s a woman who will be psychologically scarred for life because of the beatings she endured from the then-law enforcement officer after she uncovered the sources of his money and drugs and asked him about them.
But that wasn’t the only egregious behavior of an individual with a gun and a badge. He also was convicted of theft in office for stealing $2,500 from a dead man’s home while he was an investigator for the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office.
By any measure, Jamrozik’s actions as an officer of the law and a public servant demanded harsh treatment by the criminal justice system. He pleaded guilty to theft in office and obstructing official business and no contest to attempted aggravated assault, domestic violence, possession of criminal tools and obstructing justice.
Therefore, when the former police chief stood before Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney for sentencing, the possibility of time behind bars loomed large.
However, Sweeney sentenced him to five years of probation, 250 hours of community service and instructed him not to have contact with his victim, Stacy Kello, his one-time girlfriend.
There are photographs of the injuries Kello suffered after being beaten on three separate occasions.
Here’s what she told 21 WFMJ-TV, this newspaper’s broadcast partner, after the sentencing:
“I would love for all women to know that even though this outcome may not have been two to five years in prison, which it should have been, I would think at least 30 days would have been coherent for women who are victims. It gives you almost no faith to come forward. I understand that for all women and men that are abused. But do it anyway because it will save your life.”
Why didn’t the judge throw the book at Jamrozik, who violated the public’s trust and used his position of power to prey on a woman?
Perhaps it was the willingness of the prosecutor from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to agree to a plea deal, and his willingness to remain silent at sentencing.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation began its probe of Jamrozik in May 2016 after Kello went to law enforcement with details of his criminal acts.
The U.S. Marshals’ Task force and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.
Or Judge Sweeney may have been swayed by the defendant’s mea culpa. According to WFMJ, he apologized to everyone except the victim.
“Standing here in this court today I can only think of one thing, how I let my family, friends and my entire community that I grew up in down. I’m going to have to carry this with me the rest of my life, and I was blessed with the opportunity to be the chief of police in the community I grew up in, but I made some poor decisions in life – life-altering decisions; that’s why I’m standing here today. I cannot apologize enough to the court, to my family, and my friends, to the community, just looking forward to moving past this and getting on with the next chapter in my life,” Jamrozik said.
Then again, the judge may have been impressed with the ex-police chief’s lawyer, Gerald Ingram, who offered a tug-at-the-heartstrings appeal on behalf of his client.
Indeed, Ingram had a rather creative justification for leniency. Here’s what he said about Jamrozik:
“He is self-rehabilitated. He no longer abuses drugs. He has lost his job, he has lost his vocation, he has surrendered to the state of Ohio his OPOTA certificate. He can never serve as a law enforcement officer again. He has lost standing in the community and for the rest of his days, his reputation will be forever tarnished.”
But Kello, the ex-girlfriend, painted a totally different picture of the defendant.
According to WFMJ, she had been beaten within an inch of her life on three separate occasions, and provided this detail:
“There was a time where he fed me some drug in my drink, literally kidnapped me and left me in the garage for two days.”
Investigators and prosecutors obviously believed Kello, which is why the sentence handed down by Judge Sweeney is so puzzling.
The former police chief and coroner’s investigator should have been sent to prison.