FOWLER — The township's part-time police chief has been subpoenaed to testify in front of the Trumbull County grand jury today.
State and federal officials are investigating Police Chief James Martin's juvenile diversion program, which used corporal punishment as a means of discipline. The program was being operated out of the Fowler Township Police Department.
Neither Martin, who is also a full-time police captain in Howland, nor Atty. Dominic Vitantonio, who represents him on a potential criminal matter, could be reached to comment.
Suspended from jobs
Martin has been placed on unpaid suspension from both jobs. He has not been charged criminally, but the grand jury will hear testimony that may result in criminal charges.
Since Martin received the subpoena to testify, Atty. Randall Weltman, who represents him on administrative matters, sent a letter earlier this week to Howland township trustees asking to reschedule his disciplinary hearing there.
Township officials stated that the administrative charges deal with Martin's use of corporal punishment administered to juveniles and that Martin was listing the cellular telephone number issued to him by Howland on a letterhead from the Fowler Police Department. Howland Township officials said that is an abuse of township equipment.
A hearing had been scheduled for 4 p.m. today.
"First, Captain Martin is subject to a subpoena requesting his presence at a grand jury on the afternoon of April 28," states Weltman's letter. "As you know the grand jury is convening to consider whether Captain Martin should be charged criminally for engaging in many of the same acts that are presented in Chief [Paul] Monroe's administrative charges."
Weltman's letter further states that if Martin would participate in the township's administrative hearing he would be compromising his constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Darlene St. George, Howland Township administrator, said the hearing will be continued until the grand jury takes action. She said Martin will remain on unpaid leave.
This is the sixth time the grand jury has heard evidence in Martin's case.
Three teenagers have filed federal civil suits against Martin saying they were paddled as part of the diversion program.
The FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation are investigating Martin. Vitantonio has said that he does not think Martin will face any criminal charges.
He said Martin used corporal punishment in his diversion program only in limited cases. When paddling was used, the juvenile and parents both agreed beforehand, he added.
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