LIMA — The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed felony charges of kidnapping, extortion and robbery against a Lima man in connection with the alleged assault and abduction of an UNOH student nearly a year ago.
A one-page document filed in Allen County Common Pleas Court on Jan. 3 formally resulted in the dismissal of charges against Jeffrey Fails Jr.
Fails, 30, and his co-defendant, Justin Meeks, were indicted in March on identical charges after allegedly assaulting a student at the University of Northwestern Ohio and then driving him to an ATM machine, where they demanded he “drain his account” and turn the money over to his assailants.
Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick on Tuesday stressed that even though the charges against Fails have been dismissed, “the investigation is still ongoing” into the incident. Waldick also said there have been no additional arrests made in the case.
Fails’ case was the subject of a Dec. 13 press conference held by the Lima chapter of the NAACP, at which time officials of the organization made allegations of racism in the local judicial system.
“Where African Americans are concerned, it is devastating. We believe that oftentimes when dealing with the prosecuting attorney’s office, there is more an interest in convicting and arresting than getting to truth so that justice can be served to all citizens,” said NAACP Local Chapter President Ronald Fails, the uncle of Jeff Fails.
James Featherstone, a UNOH student, told police that on Feb. 4 he was traveling on Allentown Road and failed to stop within the assured clear distance, striking the rear of a white Mercury Mountaineer. Featherstone said he approached the vehicle but was told to “get out of here.”
Featherstone said he later drove to UNOH, where he is a student, and once again encountered the white Mountaineer. He told police a black male exited the vehicle and approached his pick-up truck before assaulting him and forcing him out of his vehicle and into the Mountaineer. A second black male then got into Featherstone’s truck and both vehicles traveled to a Speedway gas station on North Cable Road. The assailants ordered Featherstone to go into the gas station and remove money from an ATM machine. Featherstone told police he withdrew $60 from his account and gave it to the men, along with $25 from his wallet. The assailants then allowed Featherstone to leave unharmed, he told police.
Fails maintained he was at a Super Bowl party with eight witnesses that could prove he was not involved when Meeks and Featherstone interacted.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.