Watch Tom Sussi’s full report tonight at 11pm only on NBC4.
COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Recently, one of our viewers contacted us about something he found in a parking lot.
It was electronic monitoring device, the kind some criminal offenders wear when they’re on parole or probation. The ankle monitor had been cut off and tossed under our viewer’s car.
NBC4 Investigator Tom Sussi immediately got involved and started digging into this mystery. Obviously, he had lots of questions.
Who did it belong to? Why were they wearing it? And, more importantly, do authorities know about it?
Frank Hamilton said he found the ankle monitor at the Burlington Coat Factory parking lot in northwest Columbus.
“The first thing that went through my head was the ‘gentleman’ who had an ankle monitor on and raped and murdered a young lady.”
He’s referring to Brian Golsby, who kidnapped, raped and murdered OSU student Reagan Tokes last February.
Golsby wore a GPS ankle monitor, but police later determined it wasn’t being properly monitored. Police said Golsby managed to beat and rob seven other people during a crime spree last January and February in German Village and Columbus.
Sussi discovered the device Hamilton found is not a GPS monitor, but a radio-frequency curfew monitor, that tracks an offender’s comings and goings.
NBC4 investigators learned the device belongs to BI Incorporated.
The Colorado-based company offers monitoring services for parolees, probationers, pretrial defendants and illegal aliens in the immigration progress. Sussi learned that Franklin County Court of Commons Pleas has a contract with them.
The company refused to answer any of Sussi’s questions, so we reached out to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.
“They did confirm for me that they did follow the standard procedure, and that is to notify the provider that the device has been cut off and the signal is no longer being sent,” O’Brien said.
And, and this point, that’s about all of the information we can get our hands on. Why? According to Ohio law, information about parolees or anyone else being monitored , is not considered open public record. That means media, police and prosecutors don’t have access to that information.
To get more details, O’Brien said he would have to file a subpoena.
“And we don’t issue subpoenas unless we investigate a crime, and here there wasn’t enough information to think that a crime has been committed, yet,” he said.
As it stands, only two parties know who was wearing the monitor and why: The government agency that assigned the unit to be worn in the first place, and BI Incorporated.
“The agency would seek an arrest warrant for the person if they violated terms of bond or probation or parole,” O’Brien said.
Ohio Representative Kristin Boggs (D-18th District) is one of the sponsors and driving forces behind the Reagan Tokes Act.
Part of the bill, if passed, would allow law enforcement to access offender monitor information without filing subpoenas.
“Until we enact the policies that we set forward in the Reagan Tokes Act that will change the way we supervise people on G.P.S. monitoring, it really is a false sense of security for the public.”
The Reagan Tokes Act is still being discussed in both the House and Senate.