Ohio Firefighter Sues Drug Task Force

An Ohio firefighter who resigned in May following allegations he was involved in conducting drugs transactions at work, has filed suit against a county drug task force seeking the return of improperly seized personal items.  Former Liberty Township Lieutenant Josh Cleland filed suit against the Mahoning County Drug Task Force.

Cleland and Lieutenant Justin Graham resigned and Captain Chris Olsen retired following an internal investigation that concluded drugs were being bought and sold at work. The investigation was prompted by the suspected overdose death of Liberty firefighter John Beard on April 12.

Cleland’s suit claims the county drug task force searched his home using a defective search warrant, and illegally seized personal property including a cell phone, iPads, cash, vehicles, watches, firearms, and prescription medications. He alleges that the search warrant should not have been issued and that the task force seized items that were totally unrelated to the purpose of the search.

The suit seeks the return of Cleland’s property that is being held along with damages. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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