Former Akron Police Chief James Nice will serve time behind bars for using police property for personal purposes. Other allegations were made against Nice, but he denies them.
James Nice, the former Akron police chief, has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for misusing the police law enforcement database. He received one year of probation and lost his certificate to be a Ohio Police officer in Summit County Common Pleas Court Tuesday.
Nice first saw trouble come his way after allegations of using racial slurs and having a non-consensual affair with an employee were made against him, which he denied. In addition, he had been accused of misusing the police database for personal usage. All of this led to Nice resigning as the police chief of Akron last year.
After the sentence hearing and pleading guilty to the misuse of police property, Nice refused to answer any questions reporters had for him. He did read from a written statement, telling reporters, “These false allegations led to the unjust end to my employment with the Akron Police Department.” He added, “Although I now begin a new chapter in my life, I do so having been greatly damaged by these events and intend to seek justice to rectify them.”
As a result of his past actions, Nice was sentenced to one year probation, a maximum fine of $1,000.00, and ordered to pay the court fees related to his case.
During Nice’s sentencing, Matthew Meyer, the assistant Cuyahoga county prosecutor, said Nice could have been charged with felonies for misusing the police database illegally. Since Nice surrendered his certificate to be an Ohio police officer, fewer charges were laid.
Another reason for the less severe charges was likely Nice’s favorable reputation in the many years he served the public, as argued by his attorney Henry Hilow, and due to the letters of support written by affluent individuals such as Don Plusquellic, former Akron Mayor, and Ophelia Averitt, former Akron NAACP president.
What Exactly Happened?
According to prosecutors, James Nice was assisting his nephew, Joseph Nice, by using the database inappropriately for Joseph’s used car business. One of the transactions involved selling an abandoned car that was found to an Akron police officer. After the sale of the vehicle, it was discovered there was an existing title on the car, which needed to be cleared for the new owner of the car.
The officer who now owned the abandoned vehicle approached James Nice to get the title removed. James asked the patrol division to run the vehicle through two databases, but no title details were found. It was later discovered that there was a lien held on the vehicle by a financing company, which Joseph Nice paid using personal checks.
Nice’s nephew has also been charged in this incident with accusations of grand theft, forgery, and tampering.