Thursday, May 11, 2017

When Will It End? Paul Vernier and Community Counseling Treatment Services Center

Sometimes you scratch your head and wonder. Is there something I don't understand? I am baffled about how law enforcement draws some very questionable lines when pressure from above comes to bear. If you are like me and try to read between the lines, your suspicion grows and grows. I know a man I believe has been persecuted for no cause.

It has been nearly three years ago (September 25, 2014) when local and federal officials executed search warrants at Paul Vernier's properties -- Community Counseling Treatment Services Center in Ironton, Ohio, as well as at his two facilities in Portsmouth and his home.

During the raid, authorities said they were looking for evidence in a drug trafficking and money laundering case they claimed had been in the works for more than a year. The authorities said Vernier and his staff took part in illegal activities including drug trafficking, money laundering, insurance fraud and forging prescriptions.

Yet to this day, Paul Vernier has not been charged or arrested for criminal activities. That is what I said: he has yet to be charged.

The police impounded Vernier's vehicles and other property he owned, and he has yet to recover these possessions. These authorities totally ransacked his home. And, all the while, he was left to wonder why he was targeted for any criminal activity – particularly since reputable sources say Vernier was a stickler about "dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's" of complicated medical treatment procedures.

There is no doubt the raid did irreparable damage to Paul Vernier's livelihood and reputation. Even more devastating is that in the middle of a deadly opioid epidemic, authorities shut down a life-saving resource and increased the danger of overdose death and addiction in Southern Ohio.

Vernier is a veteran who, himself, had been addicted for 25 years. He got sober and has maintained sobriety for nearly 20 years. He wanted to pay back, so he dedicated himself to helping others by enrolling in college and working diligently to attain degrees in education, counseling, and human development. Then, he realized his dream by opening the Community Counseling facilities.

At his counseling facilities, Paul Vernier helped his clients attain GED's, find jobs, secure housing, and work with children's services. His concern always has been to make a better place to live for all his clients and for all the people of Scioto County. But, it all came to an abrupt end approximately three years ago.

In in amazing gesture of commitment and grace, Paul Vernier and his family still have church services at the counseling center in Rosemount two nights a month. Ministers come from as far away as Tennessee to lead the congregation. Several of Vernier's clients are always there for these services. Everyone is welcome to attend.

It is my understanding that the authorities have returned two of his vehicles and two pill counters – strangely giving back pieces while holding the rest. Doesn't this seem amazing considering the time that has passed and the vague, accusatory circumstances? Parceling out bits of a broken life, the law prolongs the investigation. For what? Do the authorities hope to make a deal of some kind with a man who has not been charged with any crime? Vernier is caught in limbo.

Consider this same thing happening to you. One day law enforcement invades your job and your home, leaving your world in shambles. You, your family, and your friends patiently wait and wait only to be left on a perpetual merry-go-round with no charges or convictions. I cannot imagine the pain caused by such an intrusion. I believe I would be livid, ready to excise my pound of flesh. Yet today, Paul Vernier waits patiently for justice and vindication. All the while his clients – actual and potential – suffer. No one will ever know how many will never return. Imagine the added horror of the continual speculation.

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