Champion officer gives up job after guilty pleas

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin Robert Koehler, left, police officer with Champion for 35 years, pleads guilty Tuesday to a host of charges dealing with unauthorized use of a criminal investigation computer network. In the center is his attorney Gary Rich, and at right is Trumbull County sheriff’s deputy Dominic Massary.

WARREN — A longtime Champion police officer lost his job Tuesday after pleading guilty to 16 felony counts of unauthorized use of a state computer network specifically used for criminal investigations.

Robert Koehler, 62, of 2568 North St. NW, Warren, was arraigned and then immediately pleaded guilty to the charges that each carry a potential one-year prison term. Common Pleas Judge Andrew D. Logan said Koehler will be sentenced after he undergoes a background investigation with the Trumbull County Adult Probation Department.

In the meantime, Koehler was booked into the jail and freed on a release program where he will check in periodically with the probation office.

According to Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Becker, Koehler used the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OLEG) system to do background checks on job applicants for the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park. Koehler, who also worked security for the private company at Nelson Ledges, also used the system one time to get an address of a woman who worked for a private company in Champion, Becker said.

Prosecutors charted 16 times between 2015 and 2017 that Koehler had logged onto OLEG for private reasons, Becker said.

Becker said as part of the plea agreement, Koehler agreed to give up his police job in Champion and as chief of West Farmington. The investigation was begun in Champion by Chief Jeffery White, and then White sought assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

When the investigation began, Koehler was placed on unpaid administrative leave from the Champion department, which he’s been a part of for 35 years. He also had been police chief of Craig Beach.

Koehler’s attorney Gary Rich said the circumstance of the case was a “terrible blow.”

“Bob’s a good man that I have known for 40 years. He honorably served the public, but it is unfortunate that this lapse of judgment has cost him. It is a sad day,” Rich said.

Becker said when officers log onto OLEG, they are warned about the possible consequences from using the computer system inappropriately.

“It cannot be used privately,” Becker said.

Rich said Koehler chose not to speak about the case.


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