Sheriff won't talk, so Portune does
Jessica Brown reports from today's Hamilton County Commission meeting:
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune today gave his take on why the alcohol-related case of a sheriff's office major was handled the way it was.
Maj. James Dattilo was found drunk behind the wheel of a county car March 14 while parked in a Green Township fast-food drive through. A sheriff's deputy cited Dattilo for being in control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Questions have since swirled about why the major was not charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Sheriff Simon Leis' office has refused to answer Enquirer questions relating to the case.
A member of the public addressed the Hamilton County Commissioners this morning about the issue. She said she felt Dattilo was getting preferential treatment and asked the commissioners if they could do anything about it.
So Portune, who said he's received a few e-mails on the issue as well, broke the sheriff's silence.
"It's my personal preference that the sheriff speak publicly on the matter. But I have looked into it," he said.
He said a recent law change makes the charge against Dattilo the appropriate charge because the major was on private property rather than a public roadway.
"That's the only offense he could have been charged with. He was arrested, and was sentence to what first-time offenders are sentenced to and suspended by the sheriff's office. I would have liked for the sheriff to say all that and put an end to the controversy, but he didn't."
Portune later added that the Major Sean Donovan was very forthcoming with the information when Portune asked questions and he's not sure why the office was so close-lipped about it to the public and the media.
"Absolutely no preferential treatment was shown," Portune said. He said he recognized it is the sheriff's perogative not to answer those questions or make public statements about the issue.
"Personally I wish they would have put it out because the information is helpful to them," he said.
Portune said he did not ask Donovan why Dattilo had been driving a take-home vehicle -- another question that the Enquirer had unsuccessfully sought an answer to.