March 28, 2012
LIMA — Police raided the offices of Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority on Tuesday afternoon, serving a search warrant on behalf of the Ohio Ethics Commission and acting on a tip that potentially incriminating documents were being destroyed.Plainclothesmen of the Lima Police Department's ProActive Crime Enforcement Unit confiscated documents and desktop computers from the administrative building at 600 S. Main St., police and a Met Housing attorney said.The P.A.C.E. officers arrested a receptionist who repeatedly blocked their entry, said Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin. The employee was cited for obstructing official business, a misdemeanor, and was released on an appearance bond a short time later, Martin said.Lima Police Department officials are assisting the Ohio Ethics Commission with an investigation involving Met Housing, Martin said. The investigation, which began a few weeks ago, involves allegations of ethics violations as well as criminal violations, he said. A subpoena was issued requesting several Met Housing documents as evidence.Tuesday's raid followed an anonymous tip some of the requested documents were being destroyed, Martin said.“I'm not sure exactly who the word came from or who it came to,” Martin said. “It may have come to the Ohio Ethics Commission and then they contacted us.”P.A.C.E. officers were dispatched immediately to the building to secure it while waiting for a search warrant to be issued by the Allen County Court of Common Pleas.Met Housing Executive Director Anna Schnipple referred all questions about the incident to Met Housing attorney Walter M. Lawson III.Lawson said the P.A.C.E. officers gathered the employees in a conference room, where they waited for the search warrant, which was delivered around 5 p.m.Officers seized documents and the desktop computers of Schnipple, Assistant Director Tiffany Wright, Met Housing Board Chairman Lamont Monford, housing inspector Bruce Monford and an office manager, Lawson said.Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick said he was aware Lima Police Department officials served a search warrant on the office of the Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority. He declined to discuss the case because the investigation was ongoing.The search warrant was unavailable Wednesday. Officials have not filed it at the Allen County Clerk of Courts office, which sometimes isn't done for weeks after raids because the investigation is pending. The warrant, when filed, will list any evidence seized.Ohio Ethics Commission spokeswoman Susan Willeke said the commission does not comment on any ongoing investigation.Lawson said the investigation likely won't turn up any significant wrongdoing.“Certainly the agency is confident that when all this is said and done, there won't be any ethical violations, no criminal violations, anything of that nature,” Lawson said. “We're comfortable that what the agency does is in keeping with the law.”Staff Writer Greg Sowinski contributed to this report.