Joshua Engel, the former top lawyer for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, was charged today with three counts of intercepting and disclosing confidential information as part of his his long-running scheme to monitor e-mail messages between his office and the state inspector general.
Engel has agreed to plead guilty to the three charges filed today in a bill of information by the Franklin County prosecutor’s office and cooperate in any investigation.
So one of Strickland’s top appointees has plead guilty and has clearly abused his office.
But that’s not the juicy stuff. Here’s the money shot:
Engel reported both to the Public Safety director for administrative purposes and to Kent Markus, Gov. Ted Strickland’s legal counsel, on legal issues related to the agency.
Engel told authorities that he did not seek authority for the e-mail filter from Markus but “may have informed him at some point” that the e-mails were being captured, according to the search warrant. Markus has denied having any advance knowledge about the filter.
If Engel ends up cooperating and testifying that Markus lied and did have knowledge of the nefarious plot, that means the Governor’s top legal advisor and one of the biggest fish in Strickland’s sea has been lying and is implicated in a criminal matter.
Will any of this come out fast enough to really have an effect on the race? No, probably not. But it’s a huge headache to the Strickland Administration and, if true, speaks volumes to the choice voters have in front of them if they so choose to educate themselves.