Editor's note correcting prior versions of this story: Over thirty years ago, a jury unanimously determined that Eugene Leber was permanently paralyzed from his waist down by the negligence of the Erie County Sheriffs Department and an Erie County sheriffs deputy. Leber 's lawsuit brought about changes to police procedures in the state of Ohio, and his ensuing litigation resulted in no taxpayer monies being paid out to or for him.
By Josh Sweigart- Staff Writer
With its two kitchens, elevators, 70-foot heated pool, vaulted ceiling and marble floors, a Bellbrook mansion on the market for $3.1 million has garnered a lot of attention since it recently hit the market.
The seller is Eugene Leber, who became permanently paralyzed when a jury unanimously found that the Erie County Sheriffs Deparment and an Erie County sheriffs deputy behaved negligently, shooting Leber in the back and paralyzing him from his waist down. The deputy had slipped and fell on the ice, which caused his untested , never-fired -before, .357 Magnum handgun to discharge and to shoot Eugene Leber through his back.
Leber and his family sued the Erie County Sheriffs Office, and legal battles and appeals stretched over years.
According to Mr. Leber , "Rather than bankrupt Erie County, I agreed to take an assignment of Erie County's cause of action against its insurance companies . The litigation resulted in no taxpayer's monies being paid out to or for me."
The award was a record for a case of its kind , and spurred cities across Ohio -including Dayton-to create local ordinances limiting damages from such lawsuits.
Leber said in an interview with this reporter last week that he's selling his Bellbrook home to move to Florida.
Leber said his case brought to light inadequate police training, and that the deputy who shot him was carrying a modified .357 Magnum that went off too easily.
"(The case changed) a lot of procedures throughout Ohio and throughout the country for the proper techniques, and training officers must go through , and the proper weapons that must be issued to police officers," he said. "I'm still unfortunately a parapelegic after 36 years, but it has changed a lot of things for the good."
Leber built the 22,000-square- foot, fully wheelchair accessible mansion on a 22.1 acre lot in 1997.
"It's a model home for any future homes that can be built with accessibility features like this one," he said.
He also became active in the community. He founded the Leber Family Foundation in 1995 to support accessibility issues. This included donating $300,000 to Dayton in 2006 for fully accessible playground equipment at Mcintosh Park.
Tax breaks may soon be documented
The good news is that the public may gain additional insight into how much money state and local governments lose every years to tax abatements. The bad news is we will have to wait a little longer.
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has proposed new standards for how governments report their revenues in annual reports. The new standard encourages governments to break out how much revenue they lose from special tax breaks given mainly to companies in exchange for promised investment and jobs.
The new standards don’t go into effect until 2016 and most annual reports for that year won’t come out until 2017, though the GASB encourages governments to start complying earlier.
Corporate accountability group Good Jobs First calls the GASB’s recommendation a good first step, but criticized it for stopping short of listing the companies given the tax breaks.
“We believe that deal-specific reporting is especially salient when large projects are granted enormous tax abatements, and we have documented that such ‘megadeals’ are increasingly common,” the advocacy group opined in its analysis of the standards change.
$7.3M in fraud nets 30 months in prison
A $7.3 million health care fraud scheme earned a former physician at an Army medical center in Texas only 30 months in prison and a $15,000 fine this month.
In January, Army Lt. Col. Richard Craig Rooney pleaded guilty to allegations that from 2005 through June 2010 he was being paid by medical supply companies Altiva Corporation and Allure Spine Consulting while recommending to Army hospitals that they purchase and use the company’s products.
The government also is seeking the forfeiture of roughly $4.27 million seized from financial institutions, and has already forfeited a residential property in Washington state owned by Rooney.
The I-Team is committed to keeping government accountable on all levels. If you have a tip about government waste, fraud or abuse, call our hotline at (937) 225-2251 or email I-Team editor Brian Kollars at Brian.Kollars@coxinc.com.