Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A former assistant Warren County prosecutor who became chief legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Public Safety was suspended from practicing law for six months Thursday for intercepting confidential e-mails involving federal and state investigations.
Joshua A. Engel had letters of support from police, well-known attorneys and even his former-boss-turned-appeals judge, Rachel Hutzel.
But a panel of Ohio Supreme Court judges thought Engel deserved more than the public reprimand he thought was enough.
“His distribution of confidential information about pending law-enforcement and ethics investigations to those who were not authorized to receive such information…worked to undermine public trust not only in the legal system, but in state government as a whole,” the judges wrote.
Engel, who left the Warren County prosecutor’s office after five years in 2007 to work for the state, was convicted in a plea agreement of three misdemeanor charges of disclosing confidential information from the Office of the Inspector General.
He received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and $750 fine in Franklin County for each of the three charges.
Engel was demoted and then fired from his job at the Ohio Department of Public Safety in late 2010 after an investigation concluded that an e-mail filter he had set up to find a “leak” from the department to a Columbus Dispatch reporter was intercepting confidential e-mails involving investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ohio Ethics Commission and the Office of the Ohio Inspector General.