Taxpayer challenges sending fine from Jackson coach's locker room video to Newtown

CANTON, Ohio - A taxpayer is challenging an Ohio judge's decision that a $5,000 fine paid by a former high school basketball coach who videotaped boys in a locker room shower should go to a Connecticut community where 20 first-graders and six educators died.

The challenge, arguing that fines should go to the county under Ohio law, was sent Wednesday to the Stark County prosecutor by Craig Conley, an attorney representing resident Thomas Marcelli on behalf of county taxpayers. Their letter asked the prosecutor to take legal action against the judge to recover the money, plus interest, and ensure it is paid to the county.

Conley's letter said he wasn't aware of state law allowing for such a fine to go toward a fund other than the county's general fund, and he cited two previous cases in which he said a state appeals court found lower courts didn't have the authority to direct fine payments to charities and other entities.

The letter didn't further explain the motivation for the challenge. An after-hours message was left with Conley's office.

A week after the Connecticut elementary school shooting, Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione sentenced coach Scott Studer to 15 years in prison and issued instructions for the $5,000 fine, saying he hoped some good could come from Studer's crimes.

More than 70 boys were identified on the tapes made since 2005 at Jackson High School near Canton, where Studer coached the freshman boys basketball team.

The judge said Wednesday that he will review the taxpayer's concerns about the fine.

Studer's attorney, Jim Haupt, said he was aware of the challenge but declined to comment on it.

Conley asked John Ferrero, who led the coach's prosecution, to recuse himself and seek an out-of-county prosecutor to handle the fine issue. A message was left for Ferrero.

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