Hayes will be sentenced on Oct. 6 –
By Patricia Beech –
The seven-man, five-woman jury seated in the trial of former Manchester police officer, Joshua Hayes returned a verdict late Sept. 29 following a week-long trial in the Adams County Court of Common Pleas with Judge Brett Spencer presiding.
Hayes was charged with 48 counts of unauthorized use of the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) and 15 counts of unauthorized use of the Law Enforcement Automated Database System (LEADS) while pursuing information on individuals from Feb. 2015 to June 2016.
The LEADS database includes personal information such as home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and criminal records which are only accessible for use by authorized law-enforcement personnel. The OHLEG system allows law-enforcement agencies to share criminal justice data – its use is limited to those employed by criminal justice agencies.
Hayes pleaded not guilty to all charges.
On the charges of unauthorized use of OHLEG, the jury found Hayes guilty on 43 counts and not guilty on five counts.
On the charges of unauthorized use of LEADS, the jury found Hayes guilty on five counts and not guilty on 10 counts.
Hayes was scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Oct. 6 at 9:30 a.m.
On day five of the trial Hayes took the stand on his own behalf with his attorney Tyler Cantrell arguing that the defendant’s OHLEG and LEADS searches were a normal part of a police officer’s daily duties. Hayes also performed 20 searches in the OHLEG database system using his own name. He told the jury he did so in order to “calibrate the system because of Manchester’s poor internet reception”.
Special Prosecutor Joel King, representing Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, told the court in closing arguments that Hayes had abused his authority and invaded the privacy of others for his own personal use, and to discover whether any law-enforcement agency was investigating him.
“There is no such thing as calibrating the internet,” King told the jurors. “He is a liar, don’t let him lie to you.”
Hayes remained stoic throughout the course of the trial, but his behavior prior to taking the stand on Friday prompted Judge Brett Spencer to ask “Are you frustrated with the court, Mr. Hayes?”
The defendant replied that his behavior was due to stress, not frustration.
During the state’s cross examination, Hayes had to be instructed on more than one occasion to answer only the questions put to him by the prosecutor.
Former Manchester Police Chief Jeff Bowling instigated the investigation into Hayes’s activities after discovering the illegal searches during a required system audit. Bowling suspended, then terminated Hayes from the Manchester Police Department, but his decision was later overturned by village council members.
Hayes acted as Resource Officer for the Manchester School District in addition to working part-time as an officer for the village. Both he and Bowling were permanently laid-off when the village council disbanded the police department earlier this year.