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Mark Sullivan

Pot investigation the latest of commissioner's legal hurdles

After facing domestic violence charges earlier this year, County Commissioner Mark Sullivan is being investigated for allegedly growing marijuana plants in the backyard of his Millfield home.

The Athens County Sheriff’s Office received a call July 20 from the commissioner’s estranged wife, Tammie Sullivan, who claimed marijuana was being grown in the backyard and dried inside their home. She allegedly directed officers to the pot plants and presented them with seeds. The officers reportedly recovered 39 plants.

A special prosecutor from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was appointed to take the case upon request from Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, said Aaron Haslam, co-coordinator of the Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit.

The office received the case file from Blackburn August 15, Haslam said.

“(Blackburn) was concerned about any conflict he may have,” he said. “(He wanted) to avoid the appearance of any kind of impropriety on his behalf because he does represent (Mark Sullivan) in a legal capacity.”

Sullivan could not be reached for comment.

Before the marijuana allegations, Sullivan was charged with domestic violence in March. He pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct and was fined $360, according to a previous Post article.

Although Tammie admitted to initiating the physical altercation, Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly said she had some bruising and blood on her face during a March interview.

Tammie reportedly made a call to the sheriff concerning domestic violence complaints shortly before the July 20 incident. In mid-July, she obtained a civil protection order against her husband Mark from the Athens County Common Pleas Court, alleging that he had assaulted her and threatened her life. However, she later withdrew her request for the protection order.

“We’ll look in to that information as a part of our investigations to see if they coincide or have any connection,” Haslam said.

Though the matter is still under investigation, Haslam said the repercussions of any kind of conviction could force Sullivan to resign or be removed from office.

“Potentially, he could be looking at anything from a misdemeanor, a drug possession charge, a paraphernalia charge to felony cultivation charges of marijuana,” Haslam said.

No final time frame has been determined, but Haslam said the Attorney General’s office is working “expeditiously” to

bring the investigations to a conclusion.

“There’ll be evidence analyzed, witnesses interviewed,” Haslam said. “We’re going to treat this just like we treat any other case and move forward as quickly as possible on it.”

Despite some pressure on Sullivan to step down, a fellow commissioner, Lenny Eliason, said he does not think stepping down is necessary.

“He has been doing the things he is required to do. He has been coming to meetings and doing his job."

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