Former Ottawa Co. sheriff charged with theft for misusing funds

<p>60-year-old Robert Bratton faces one count of theft.</p>

Criminal charges have been filed against a former Ottawa County Sheriff for using law enforcement money to pay for personal expenses.

60-year-old Robert Bratton faces one count of theft for allegedly using $5,000 worth of federal money to pay for Cedar Point tickets, prescription medicine, and clothing.

â??Money that was supposed to help the men and women in law enforcement was instead diverted and spent on personal items, including tickets to an amusement park,â?? U.S. Attorney of Northern Ohio Dettelbach said in a news release. â??That is hardly amusing to the rest of us. Those who are trusted to enforce the law, above all, cannot place themselves above it.â??

Attorney Dettelbach said Bratton used federal money under the Futherance of Justice Fund (FOJ) , which was given to Ottawa County in 2010 to pay for expenses relating to official law enforcement duties. The Ohio Auditor indicated this fund would be used for a "proper public purpose."

Bratton served as the county sheriff during that time and was responsible for handling about $27,000 received from FOJ. He served as the sheriff from 2004 until his resignation in September 2011.

Prosecutors allege Bratton used $2,865 in cash from the FOJ fund and the rest of the $5,000 in credit card purchases to pay for those personal items in 2010. By the end of that year, Bratton had reimbursed a partial amount of the money spent, according to Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of FBI's Cleveland office.

If convicted, Bratton faces a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars. He is expected to be scheduled for a court appearance within the upcoming weeks.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gene Crawford and Antoinette T. Bacon are prosecuting this case.