Former court mediator is accused of mailing feces to public officials
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A fired mediator for an Ohio court is facing a federal charge alleging that he violated a law banning the mailing of hazardous materials by sending feces to public officials.
Richard John Steinle, 77, of Mogadore, Ohio, was charged in an Aug. 3 criminal complaint.
Law360, the Associated Press, Cleveland.com and the Akron Beacon Journal have coverage.
Steinle was charged after a postal inspector observed him mail a letter at the drive-up mail collection box in Akron, Ohio, while wearing a glove, according to an affidavit filed in the case. The postal inspector opened the box and found a letter addressed to Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. The letter included a greeting card with a dollar bill and suspected feces.
The investigation began after postal inspectors were asked to investigate three letters sent to Ohio state senators with suspected feces, according to the affidavit. The words “pig” and “racist” were written on an enclosed paper.
Further investigation turned up similar letters sent to elected officials in California, Kentucky and Washington, D.C., as well as Ohio. The letters had three return addresses listing the sender as “LKF,” including one for the 9th District of Court of Appeals.
An appeals court employee with those initials told investigators with the U.S. Marshals Service that Steinle could have been involved with mailing the letters. A second return address on the letters was the employee’s home address.
The employee said the employee’s spouse, a lawyer, had declined to represent Steinle in a lawsuit stemming from his firing as a mediator from the Portage County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas.
More than three dozen letters with suspected feces have been sent to elected officials that list LKF as the sender, the affidavit said. Two letters were also sent to federal district courts in California.
Steinle did file a lawsuit over his firing in 2017, according to Cleveland.com and Law360. He had worked in the job for 17 years and had conducted more than 4,000 mediations, the suit said. He claimed that he was wrongly let go for writing a letter to the editor about workers’ compensation premiums that was published in April 2016 on Cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer, according to Cleveland.com.
Steinle was admitted to the bar in 1981 and is currently on inactive status, according to the Ohio Supreme Court’s attorney directory.