BRYAN — Williams County’s sheriff has agreed to step down next month in return for a special prosecutor’s promise not to seek his indictment on new felony charges.
Steve Towns will resign on March 17, according to Mark Weaver, a Columbus attorney acting as special prosecutor in the case.
According to a press release issued by Weaver Wednesday afternoon, Towns engaged in two acts that were subject to felony criminal investigation. Each is related to his Nov. 4 conviction by a jury in Bryan Municipal Court of improperly disclosing confidential information, a first-degree misdemeanor. (He remains on probation from that conviction.)
Weaver noted that a recent investigation determined that Towns “improperly directed one of his deputies to attend and assist” at his Nov. 4 trial and a county board of elections hearing on Jan. 13 concerning his attempt to retain his name on the March 17 primary ballot. During that hearing, the board of elections determined ruled that Towns’ name could not remain on the ballot due to his misdemeanor conviction.
“The deputy was paid for the hours he attended those proceedings, despite the fact there was no official government purpose for the deputy to be present,” Weaver explained.
The prosecutor further noted that Towns submitted an invoice to county officials for creation of a transcript concerning his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court (filed on Jan. 21) — to be paid by taxpayers.
The above incidents constituted three potential counts of theft in office, each a fourth-degree felony, according to Weaver. He still could be charged with those offenses if he violate the agreement’s terms “in any way,” according to Weaver.
“Steven Towns was convicted by a Williams County jury last November and we were prepared to charge him with much more serious crimes this week,” Weaver stated. “Rather than expend even more taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources to prosecute him, we’ve decided that this agreement is a better outcome for the community and for Mr. Towns.”
In addition to resigning his office, Towns agreed to repay $2,349.28 involved in the above violations, forfeits state certification allowing him to be a law enforcement officer and “he agrees not to seek employment within the state of Ohio at any law enforcement agency or any detention facility such as a jail or prison.”
An attempt to contact Towns for comment Wednesday afternoon was unsuccessful. He did not return a phone call before this story was completed.