Kent State instructor continues to teach after pleading guilty to felony charges
DetailsCreated on Monday, 11 February 2013 01:16 Written by Celia Fernandez, Megan Shaw & Jake Corcoran Hits: 2090
A retired Kent State police officer, now working for the university as an adjunct faculty member, will continue to teach two classes in justice studies after pleading guilty to felony, drug and weapon charges.
Daniel P. Fitzpatrick, 57, was sentenced Jan. 28, 2013, and required to enter a one-year drug treatment program, pay a $375 fine and complete three days of OVI school after pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon, a fourth-degree felony; possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony; and operating a vehicle under the influence, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Video by Megan Shaw
Fitzpatrick pleaded guilty while under contract with the university as an adjunct instructor and is currently teaching classes on the role of a police officer and the investigative process. He has worked part-time for the university since 1992.
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“Daniel Fitzpatrick is still scheduled to teach two classes this spring semester,” said Eric Mansfield, executive director of media relations. “Regarding his personal life, we are not going to comment. University officials aren’t allowed to comment [on] our employees’ personal lives.”
Richard Serpe, chairman of the sociology department, also declined comment when contacted by a reporter and referred all questions to the university communications department. The justice studies curriculum is largely housed in the sociology department.
The Daily Kent Stater left messages at two separate phone numbers for Fitzpatrick, but the calls were not returned. A reporter contacted Fitzpatrick after his Police Role class on Feb. 7 to ask for a comment — he politely declined.
According to the Kent State employment policy, “to be involved in the possession, use, distribution of and sale of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited.”
In connection with the university employment policy, the employee resource manual states, “the university does not tolerate certain acts and behaviors which are unproductive and detrimental to the university.” The manual states intolerable behavior includes but is not limited to violating any Kent State policy or work rule, immoral conduct and being convicted of a felony.
On Dec. 25, 2011, an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper discovered synthetic drugs known as bath salts and a loaded 9mm handgun in Fitzpatrick’s possession after a traffic violation. Fitzpatrick also tested positive for marijuana and was charged with an OVI, according to Portage County court records.
A grand jury indicted him on felony drug and weapon charges in April 2012 and a warrant for his arrest was made July 2. According to the court documents, Sheriff David Doak received the warrant on Aug. 7, and Fitzpatrick was arrested the same day.
Initially pleading not guilty, Fitzpatrick was released on bond and awaited trial. He eventually pleaded guilty to all the charges brought against him. Hearings were scheduled throughout December 2012 and on Dec. 24, Fitzpatrick was ordered to report to the Portage County Adult Probation Department to determine if he qualified for an intervention in lieu of conviction, which was granted. This means after completing his drug treatment program, Fitzpatrick can apply to have his guilty pleas vacated and his felony convictions dismissed.
“First offenders are given the chance to get better by entering treatment if it is proven the offense was indeed caused by drug and/or alcohol use,” said Judge John Enlow, the Portage County Common Pleas judge assigned to Fitzpatrick’s case. “In this case, there were clear signs of dependency.”
Video by Jake Corcoran
Fitzpatrick first became a Kent State police officer in 1978 and worked his way up to assistant chief before retiring in 2008.
The Daily Kent Stater also attempted to contact the following people, who were either unavailable or declined to comment:
• Portage County Assistant Prosecutor Eric Finnegan
• Defense Attorney Tim Hart
• Portage County Adult Probation Officer Judy Wise
• Portage County Adult Probation Department Chief Cathy Poling