A Jackson County man, who serves as a Liberty Township Trustee, is currently facing a fifth-degree felony charge of Theft in Office in neighboring Ross County in connection with his job as a corrections officer at the Ross Correctional Institute (RCI) in Chillicothe.
According to Ross County Prosecutor Matthew Schmidt, William "Bill" Rafferty and two other RCI employees stand accused of taking various items of unissued uniform apparel from an RCI warehouse without permission. With specific regard to Rafferty, who is best known in Jackson County for his role as a Liberty Township Trustee, a position to which he was re-elected without opposition in the November general election, Schmidt stated he is accused of taking three shirts, three pairs of pants, one jacket and one knit cap. In all, these items were valued at $381.50.
Prosecutor Schmidt further told The Telegram that once the missing inventory was noticed, surveillance footage was reviewed which he claimed resulted in the charges being brought against the three RCI employees.
Rafferty and the two other men are still currently employed by RCI and have been placed on administrative leave. All three men have likewise pleaded not guilty to these allegations in Ross County Common Pleas Court.
In speaking with Rafferty via telephone, he told The Telegram that these allegations are false. He did not feel comfortable making any further comments on the matter without first consulting with his attorney. The charge in Ross County involves only his employment with RCI and not with his elected position in Liberty Township.
With regard to Rafferty's position as township trustee in light of this charge, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) section 2921.41 subsection C states, "A public official or party official who pleads guilty to theft in office and whose plea is accepted by the court or a public official or party official against whom a verdict or finding of guilt for committing theft in office is returned is forever disqualified from holding any public office, employment, or position of trust in this state."