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Brian Hoffman

Courts conclude several local cases during six-week break

While students were away for winter break, three major court cases came to a close. Two cases ended in plea agreements and one in a dismissal by the court.

Jerry Hallowell

A former Athens County Sheriff's deputy could be sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to four of eight felony counts.

Former head of the Narcotics Enforcement Team Jerry D. Hallowell, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting or receiving improper compensation and three counts of unauthorized use of Ohio’s Law Enforcement Gateway, a police database, as part of an agreement with the Athens County Prosecutors office Nov. 28.

Hallowell was originally charged with four counts of sexual battery and one count of bribery, attempt to commit sexual battery, theft in office and unauthorized use of Ohio’s Law Enforcement Gateway.

The sexual-battery charges stemmed from four different events spanning from April 27 to Sept. 5, 2010. The attempted sexual-battery charge occurred Sept. 9 when Hallowell was found at the Super 8 motel, 2091 E. State St., with an informant and an unknown woman during an arranged sexual encounter, according to court documents.

He was then investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, which lead to the other charges.

Soliciting or receiving improper compensation is a first-degree misdemeanor, and unauthorized use of Ohio’s Law Enforcement Gateway is a fifth-degree felony. Hallowell could be sentenced to a maximum of three years and six months in prison and a maximum fine of $8,500, according to court documents.

Hallowell could have been sentenced to a maximum of 29 years in prison and a maximum fine of $62,500 had he been convicted of his original charges at a trial, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

Because of the agreement, Hallowell’s Ohio Peace Officers’ Certificate will be revoked and he will be unable to hold public office for seven years.

Hallowell’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Brian Hoffman

An Athens man took a plea agreement and was sentenced to four years in prison for robbing a gas station at knifepoint in September.

Brian K. Hoffman, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery as part of a deal with the Athens County Prosecutor’s office Nov. 29.  Hoffman’s second charge of theft of drugs was dismissed as part of the agreement.

Hoffman wielded a knife at the cashier Sept. 30 at Speedway, 414 Richland Ave. He demanded money and cartons of cigarettes, according to court documents.

Hoffman was sentenced to four years in prison and will be given credit for the 61 days he was already spent in jail.

Benita Blessing

A former professor’s lawsuit against Ohio University was dismissed by federal court Dec. 6 because of lack of evidence.

Benita Blessing filed the lawsuit after her contract with the university was not renewed in 2009. Blessing claimed that OU punished her for her “strong viewpoints regarding gender roles in teaching and sexual discrimination in academia.”

She claimed the university violated her First Amendment rights and discriminated against her based on gender and disability, according to court documents.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissed the lawsuit because it could not find that OU discriminated or retaliated against Blessing.

Blessing's contract was not renewed because of her considerable issues in the classroom, her record of issues with collegiality, and the ongoing ethics investigation, according to court documents. 

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