27 Investigates: Warren worker facing drug charges

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — A paralegal for the city of Warren is on unpaid administrative leave after being charged earlier this week with felony drug possession stemming from an arrest in December while he was at work.

Because of the delay, 27 First News Reporter Jeff Levkulich began asking whether he received special treatment because he works for the city.

Warren police were called to the city’s law department on Dec. 23. Officers found Jason Burns, 33, acting strangely. When asked if he needed medical help, Burns told officers “I took some oxy’s.”

Law Director Greg Hicks said when officers patted Burns down before his arrest, they found some drug paraphernalia and some unidentified pills. Two crack pipes and a spoon were taken into evidence, along with what looked like a gray rock.

Police field tested the rock for cocaine, but that was negative, so they sent it to a state lab for further analysis. Burns was not charged until after the chemical analysis came back six weeks later. Hicks said the rock was found to be heroin.

Hicks said investigators couldn’t charge Burns until they received the BCI lab tests.

“Procedure and protocol were followed exactly properly and anyone who would say otherwise would be fabricating,” Hicks said.

Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel said while procedures vary by case, police do not press felony drug charges without lab confirmation.

After some digging, Levkulich found five similar cases where charges were not filed until test results came back from BCI.

Allen Williamson was arrested on Aug. 9 for possessing Oxycontin. His case didn’t go to the grand jury until Oct. 10. Levkulich found a letter from BCI confirming its lab received the drugs for testing on Aug. 26.

Jason Burns remains off the paralegal job. Since he is in a union, a disciplinary hearing has been scheduled, and Hicks recommends firing him.

Police ran an Ohio Automated Prescription Report. It was discovered that Burns did not have a prescription for Oxycontin or Alprazolam found in his possession.


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