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Legal Ethics

Two Ohio Public Safety Lawyers Ousted Over Allegations of E-Mail Snooping

Posted Sep 30, 2010 9:07 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Two lawyers in the Ohio Department of Public Safety are jobless after the agency's director accused them of routinely intercepting possibly confidential employee e-mails.

Former top public safety lawyer Joshua Engel is accused of intercepting e-mails sent to the state inspector general and to the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Another agency lawyer, Pam Bolton, is accused of helping him.

Thomas Stickrath, the state's public-safety director, told the Dispatch that he fired Engel and Bolton submitted her resignation. Stickrath said some of the intercepted e-mails could have contained confidential information. "Obviously, when you're dealing with the inspector general, some of the material is going to be highly sensitive," he said.

A lawyer for Engel, Larry James, said his client denies wrongdoing. Engel, a Harvard law grad, was demoted to a staff lawyer position earlier this year after accusations surfaced that he suggested releasing a classified report on security at the governor’s residence, the story says. Engel admitted talking about releasing the report, but denied he had a scheme to leak it to the inspector general in hopes the IG would release it and violate federal law.

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