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This is a printer friendly version of an article from www.toledoblade.com
©2001 The Blade.


Article published April 25, 2003
Officer confesses to hoax, resigns
Woman had lodged harassment claims


Barbara Cregan-Ott, 32, joined the department in 1995.

A Toledo police officer, who claimed she was the victim of harassment by colleagues, resigned yesterday before police announced she staged the incidents.

Administrative and criminal investigations were begun by the department in February after Barbara Cregan-Ott, 32, who joined the department in 1995, reported incidents, ranging from threatening telephone calls and letters to an altered childís doll with a threatening message and a knife with a note inside a police car.

She admitted her involvement yesterday in all but one of the cases, police Chief Mike Navarre said. "Her resignation and the imminent completion of this complex criminal investigation brings to closure a very dark chapter in the history of the Toledo Police Department," he said.

Ms. Cregan-Ott made no comment as she left the Safety Building. Her attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

The chief said Ms. Cregan-Ott agreed to cooperate with the criminal investigation and spoke for more than an hour with investigators. She had no prior disciplinary action or complaints against her.

The chief said investigators found evidence that led to her admission, but he declined to say what that was. He would not comment on her motive, saying he did not want to jeopardize the criminal investigation.

Initially, the departmentís investigations centered on then-Officer Richard Mohr and another male officer. The alleged harassment, which occurred between January and April 11, included 13 letters, six phone calls, and eight other incidents. Some involved death threats that were date-specific.

One of the incidents included a threatening message written in catsup on a piece of paper affixed under the windshield wiper blade of Ms. Cregan-Ottís personal vehicle, and another was an undressed altered doll with its hands cut off and a threatening message scratched into the dollís chest on the dashboard of her police vehicle.

Police served six search warrants and seized computers, including equipment from Mr. Mohrís house. Mr. Mohr, whom the chief said denied the allegations, resigned March 7.

The chief said neither Mr. Mohr nor the other officer are suspects in the harassment investigation.

However, the chief said Mr. Mohr would have faced administrative charges for evidence found during the investigation that was unrelated. He declined to say what evidence was uncovered.

The other officer also may face administrative charges for evidence found during the investigation that was unrelated to the case.

Neither Mr. Mohr nor the other officer could be reached for comment.

Gary Burks, first vice president of the Toledo Police Patrolmanís Association, declined comment.

The chief said investigators started to question the validity of Ms. Cregan-Ottís complaint about a month ago.

"Little by little, we started gathering things. It wasnít until the morning of April 15 that we gathered what I think is the most incriminating evidence which took away the doubts," the chief said.

He declined comment on that evidence.

The chief said he anticipates criminal charges against Ms. Cregan-Ott to be filed within the next few days. The department devoted about 2,000 man-hours to the investigation and overtime costs were close to $50,000. The department will seek restitution when the case is adjudicated in court, the chief said.

The investigation had a "major impact" on the department and drained its resources. "There was a lot of real concern that there was a very dangerous person out there," the chief said.

He said specialists with the FBI looked at the evidence and reported that "we had a very dangerous person on our hands."

Ms. Cregan-Ott was temporarily reassigned to investigative services for her own safety in mid-March. On April 15, she removed herself from the payroll and was relieved of duty. She had no prior disciplinary action or complaints against her.



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