3 Lucas County corrections officers suspended following August inmate escape

3 Lucas Co. Corrections officers suspended

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Three Lucas County corrections officers will be suspended without pay for their roles in a “bad release” that sent authorities scrambling to find accused bank robber Don Ellis in August, WTOL has learned.

The suspensions will be effective November 1.

“Mr. Ellis was able to gain information of another inmate, use that information to gain release from our facility,” said Lucas County sheriff’s deputy Capt. Richard Grove. “Our officers were kind of duped by him.”

Ellis escaped custody on August 16 and wasn’t found until the FBI discovered him at a hotel on 8 Mile Road in Detroit. The escape prompted procedural changes at the sheriff’s office.

“We have our officers getting checked by their supervisors, making sure that we’re verifying identification using full social security numbers to make sure, at least to try to minimize this happening again,” Grove said.

Three corrections officers charged internally with neglect of duty. Records provided to WTOL showed Corey Utz suspended for two days, Christopher Niles for five days and Timothy Vining for 15 days.

Grove told WTOL none of the officers have a previous disciplinary record and the department does not believe any of them acted maliciously. Grove said this was one isolated incident and the public should retain trust in the sheriff’s office.

“We process a tremendous amount of people on a daily basis, we release them into the public and we do a very good job at that,” he said. “Sometimes we do fall short and we’ve taken steps to minimize that and they can have full confidence (in) this office and Sheriff Tharp.”

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