Jarrod Harrah, Miami County’s former facilities director convicted of theft in office, was released from prison Monday after four months.
Judge Jonathan Hein of Darke County approved the release during a videoconference linking Harrah at the Madison Correctional Institute with his Darke County courtroom.
Hein was appointed as visiting judge in cases resulting from a 2012 investigation of theft in the county maintenance department.
Investigators found employee theft, mostly by Harrah, and questioned millions of dollars in no bid contracts for maintenance-department related contracts. Information from the contracts was presented to the Ohio Ethics Commission and state auditor’s for further review.
County Commission President Richard Cultice said Monday he would not second guess the judge.
“The judge saw fit to release him after four months. That’s the judge’s decision. We will go by whatever the judge felt was appropriate,” Cultice said.
Harrah was sentenced Nov. 5 to one year in prison, a $7,500 fine and $1,243 restitution to the county on charges of theft in office and tampering with evidence and records.
Special Prosecutor Andrew Wilson of Clark County said a conservative estimate of county property recovered from Harrah’s house was $18,602 and much was returned to the county.
Wilson opposed the release, saying Harrah received a good deal when prosecutors only filed three felony charges and then agreed to recommend concurrent sentences. “It is important the community knows a sentence is a sentence,” Wilson said.
Harrah told the judge prison was “worse than anything” he could have expected and appreciated the opportunity for early release consideration.
“Though I did violate the trust, I am anxious to get back out and start rebuilding relationships with my family and the community, and repaying the debt that I owe to society,” Harrah said.
Harrah’s release was not a surprise.
Hein indicated during sentencing that Ohio sentencing laws focus on prison for violent offenders, not those convicted of charges such as Harrah’s. The conviction was his first.
Hein said he believed the court could supervise Harrah better locally through the Adult Parole Authority than the state parole system that would supervise if Harrah completed his sentence.
He made similar statements Monday on the way to approving the early release.
Harrah will be required to complete three years of community control, obtain employment and perform 60 hours of community service.