I've thought about writing this post many times, but I've hesitated in the past because it is accusative and reveals some very personal hard feelings I have attempted to control and even diminish. Let me say upfront despite my current posts, I am not a fan of politics. Yes, I am working with a campaign because I believe in the man running and because I believe in a need for change, but, in general, I don't care for "politics with a Capital "P" as in "political party." Neither Democrat nor Republican means much to me. I am writing today about why I can't support Sheriff Donini. It is my story, so I take all responsibility for the content.
It All Began On a Beautiful Morning in Wheelersburg...
On July 27, 2010, our Facebook group, Fix the Scioto County Problem of Drug Abuse, led a protest against pill mills at the Robin's Nest in Wheelersburg, Ohio. A good group of twenty or more men, women, and children assembled there on the obliging owner's property to hold signs, demonstrate, and talk to interested citizens about the epidemic of prescription drugs in Scioto County. Many people in the Wheelersburg community gave us a tremendous positive response for our active protest that day.
As the protest continued, some of our group spread along the public sidewalk that bordered the "pain clinic" of Margy Temponeras. Some in the group noticed an unmarked delivery van pulling into the clinic from another side street. The delivery was made, and, of course, cameras were abundant that day, so some snapped photos of almost everything. A film crew from Kentucky was even producing a documentary film that day. I am sure some took photos of the van. People concerned about the influx of out-of-state cars had been tracking license plates at pill mills for many months prior.
As the man driving the delivery van began to leave the clinic, he decided to exit through the sidewalk where we were protesting instead of turning onto the street upon which he had entered. He stopped the van and quickly jumped out, questioning some women about why they were taking photos. He was very agitated, so I approached him and asked him what his problem was. The man replied, "I don't want my picture taken."
I told him "that's fine" and we were not interested in taking "his" picture specifically, but we were interested in any illegal activity on the lot. I told him we had the right to photograph our rally and he really had no fear of anything as long as he wasn't doing anything illegal. Honestly, the driver was very understanding.
But, while the driver and I were talking on the sidewalk, Temponeras' security guard Darrell Leadingham, gun on his side, charged out of the clinic at a full run straight toward us angrily yelling something about "HIPPA, confidentiality, and patients' rights." He attempted to make himself quite intimidating. Some of the ladies and children were terrified because of his behavior.
I told him I knew who he was because he had taken it upon himself to e-mail me when I had posted blog entries about the pill mill operations owned by Dr. Temponeras. I also told Leadingham that we were doing absolutely nothing wrong in Wheelersburg that day and that Governor Strickland had been looking into the illegal operations of their clinic. He laughed, claimed Strickland was his friend, and mocked the people who were protesting proclaiming that Margy was a wonderful, caring doctor.
In the meantime, the delivery driver left. (By the way, that night, his passenger that day, his wife, wrote me on Facebook that they were sorry for being upset about our protest. She claimed the delivery was legit and I said "good" and we parted on friendly terms.) Leadingham finally retreated to the confines of the clinic, and we continued our protest.
Incidently, that day a reliable witness stopped and revealed the true operations of Temponeras' pill mill, explaining all the procedures dealers use for acquiring illegal prescription drugs on a regular basis with their set payments. We all felt we had done a service to the community that day and left with renewed hope that our protests were yielding positive results and important, revealing information.
As a result of our continued activism -- we held 9 other pill mill protests all around the county that summer (Lucasville, West Portsmouth, Portsmouth, South Webster, New Boston, Minford, Franklin Furnace, Clay Township, and Rarden) -- Mr. Leadingham became increasingly upset and vocal.
He accused me of being a liar and of spreading false rumors about pain clinics. He made it a point to discredit my service as a teacher, accusing me of being everything from a psychiatric madman to a child molester. He tried to lure me to confront him at his property in South Webster. And he also spread derogatory comments, some very racist, in print about my family, specifically about my grandchildren. With his connections, I felt the man was threatening our lives.
The whole thing reached a climax when I received a letter from Dublin attorney Steven Hillman, the lawyer representing Temponeras and many other Scioto pain clinics. In the letter, Hillman threatened me with a lawsuit if I didn't stop speaking out about the illegal operations of Margy Temponeras. In an accusatory manner, he said I was spreading falsehoods and "bothering" Leadingham too.
I had heard that Leadingham was once (or still was) a special deputy. My family was horrified at the potential for violence, and my wife, children, and grandchildren feared for their safety both because of the volatile nature of this man and because of his criminal pill mill connections. He was running an illegal dispensary.
Then, somehow (Oh, I wonder how?), Leadingham got a copy of the personal correspondence Hillman had sent me and posted it along with other derogatory remarks about me on his commercial website newsletter that promotes KD Dragway. Since he was going ballistic online specifically about me, I had no idea what this man may do to cover his tracks.
I was very upset and felt someone should tell Leadingham to stop his defamation and libelous remarks. So, I contacted the Scioto County Sheriff's Department with all the information, not once but twice. Despite the service I felt I was doing for my community and for law enforcement with my activities against drug abuse, the department told me there was "nothing they could do."
The sheriff's department told me that they received information about threats like this "all the time." And they were "not going to even talk with Leadingham." They advised me to "go home and forget it." He could "print and say anything he wished." That's "just the way it was." The generalities made me sick. I was standing up against crime and receiving a lecture about remaining silent and indifferent in the face of an epidemic killing Scioto men, women, and children.
In fact, the the second time I went to the sheriff's office, a very rude deputy refused me entrance and gruffly commanded me to leave the premises without as much as an explanation for my followup visit.
The deputy said they had checked records about the possible employment of Leadingham. And, the deputy said the records completely denied that Leadingham was then or ever had been, under any administration, a special deputy. And, the deputy said Leadingham never had any connection with the sheriff's office. (I had heard a close relative was once a dispatcher, too - to this day I still don't know the truth of that information.)
I pleaded for him to listen to my information about the escalation of the situation, but he would not listen, and he made me feel threatened by his dominant show of authority. He was going to charge me for something if necessary. So, I left. When I got home, I did call the DEA to file my feelings about the Leadingham situation. I decided not to have any more contact with the Donini regime. Even though I knew my facts about Wheelersburg, it didn't appear they cared.
And, of course, Leadingham continued to post his garbage while lawyer Hillman felt he had effectively put his thumb on my efforts. But, after losing faith in the county enforcement officers and feeling that I had personally witnessed their "business as usual" -- not to bother the wealthy and the politically established -- I came back to double my efforts against criminal pill mill operations. If county enforcement would not help, I knew many others in the community who would. We continued gatherings, protests, meetings, and other Drug Action Team efforts. Soon, the entire national media began to take notice. We began getting support statewide and nationwide.
Why am I bitter? When the truth came out that Temponeras' operation was one of the biggest illegal distributors of opiates in the county, no one from the sheriff's office talked with me about our efforts or even took the time to thank us for our cooperation. And things continued that way. It was as if the county office did not want us to "stir up trouble." But the DEA, the Scioto Action Team, SOLACE, Fix the County Facebook, The Garrett Maloney Foundation, Governor Kasich, Attorney General DeWine, Senator Portman, and the Portsmouth Police Department did care.
I will tell you the truth. In my opinion, concerning illegal drug operations, the Scioto Sheriff's office did very little more that what they were told to do by the governor, the DEA, the attorney general and other state officials. They seldom attended drug Action Team meetings. And, they remained mostly uncommunicative for years. I feel they are happy with biding their time and doing as little as possible. Just more "business as usual"?
In contrast, the Portsmouth Police and Charles Horner, Portsmouth Police Chief, regularly attended Action Team meetings, community and state events, and became a critical part of the leadership in the cleanup of pill mills in Scioto. They have the documentation to prove it. This I witnessed. This I became accustomed to and appreciated.
Why am I still pissed over my treatment by the Scioto County Sheriff's Department? Read this June 6, 2011 report from WSAZ TV by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy:
"In a press release, the DEA calls Dr. Margy Temponeras one of the largest dispensers of controlled substances in the United States.
Several people testified during Wednesday's hearing including Assistant Attorney General Tracy Greuel who told the board that Temponeras had a former employee of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office running her dispensary."There is a problem if any unlicensed healthcare professional can have complete access to drugs. It's not permitted by law," said Agent Kevin Kinnear.
The Sheriff’s Office has since clarified that the man in question was only a Volunteer Special Deputy from 1978-1997 under a former Sheriff."
Lies are lies however they are spoken. Much of my problem with Leadingham could have been avoided if someone in the sheriff's office had even cared enough to inquire and do their duty. I do not want others to experience the "brush off" I did. If the present Donini administration is re-elected, people can expect more of the same treatment.
It seems the current county law enforcement officers will treat you any way they please. You figure out why for yourself. I know my reasons for stating this. If you have had similar experiences with the sheriff's office, feel free to comment. Don't you think we need a change? I do.
Here is what Darrell Leadingham took the time to e-mail me on April 27, 2010. He initiated the very first correspondence with me long before the July 27, 2010 protest in Wheelersburg. His e-mail:
"You are saying a lot of lies about Dr.Temponeras as she checks OARRS,Kaspers (for your info that is KY) WEST VIRGINIA on line prescription reporting and also INDIANA. NOW AS FAR AS BEING ONE OF THE TOP 10 IN THE COUNTRY I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU NO ONE AROUND HERE CAN EVEN TELL YOU WHAT THE OTHER DOCTORS HAVE WRITTEN BECAUSE DR. TEMPONERAS IS THE ONLY DR. THAT REPORTS WHAT SHE DOES TO OARRS ( WHICH SHE ISN'T REQUIRED BY LAW TO DO BUT DOES IT ANYWAY) IF YOU WILL READ ABOUT THE DOCTORS AT ONE CLINIC IN FLA. THAT DID 2 MILLION OXYCONTIN IN 2009 AND THAT THEY WERE 5 OF THE TOP 20 IN THE COUNTRY AND NO WHERE WAS DR. TEMPONERAS MENTIONED.
"ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY THAT SHE DID ANYWHERE NEAR 2 MILLION OXYCONTIN.
I HAVE HEARD ALL THE MISS INFO ABOUT HER LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE HAS THAT THEY ARE A 100 CARS IN LOT(CHECK LOT 20 CARS WOULD BE HARD) AND 200 PEOPLE IN LOBBY(LOBBY WAY TO SMALL AND YOU NEVER SEE ANY PEOPLE STANDING AROUND OUT SIDE) THAT SHE MADE 7 MILLION DOLLARS LAST YEAR (DO THE MATH THAT WOULD TAKE ABOUT 200 PEOPLE A DAY TO COME UP WITH THAT MUCH MONEY)ALL LIES.YOU SHOULD GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT BEFORE YOU LIABLE SOMEBODY BY CALLING THEM A PILL MILL.
"I HAVE A LOT MORE FACTS
DARRELL LEADINGHAM (omitted phone number)"
Did he single me out? I don't know. Does he still intend to libel and bully me? I don't know. I can tell you a group that does not care and they are sworn to protect me. Maybe they have reasons for their attitude. Sometimes I think they might. In fact, I have heard rumors of connections that support this theory. However, I won't state rumors. Maybe you know the facts. Read my factual account above.