Amid the cacophony over "shithole" countries and a Cincinnati tax increase to pay for the crumbling Western Hills Viaduct, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has declared publicly that he will continue to do his job.
Deters, who was re-elected in November 2016 to another four-year term, made the announcement Friday morning. It was tweeted by the Hamilton County Republican Party at 9:05 a.m.
“Given rumors about my political future, I want to let the citizens of Hamilton County know that I remain 100 percent committed to serving as your Hamilton County prosecutor,” Deters said. “I will not be running for another office.”
Wait, 100 percent committed? Deters hasn't served as a full-time prosecutor since 2009, when he put himself on part-time status so that he could make aristocratic money in the private sector. His spokeswoman Julie Wilson confirmed Friday that Deters remains part-time.
CityBeat asked Wilson for an interview with Deters but received no response. In his statement, Deters doesn’t say what other political paths he was rumored to be pondering.
Gossip about his next act had persisted even before the 2016 elections. An oft-cited scenario had him filling a judicial vacancy, possibly on the First District Ohio Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. His brother Dennis Deters was appointed to that court last year after losing his seat on the Board of County Commissioners election.
Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke scoffed at the notion of Joe Deters being 100 percent committed to his job.
“He hasn’t been a full-time prosecutor for years,” Burke said Friday after hearing of Deters’ announcement. “For him to say he’s 100 percent committed is not accurate, because he’s not.”
CityBeat took a hard look at Deters’ moonlighting in September 2016. He went part-time in 2009 to join the firm of high-profile lawyer Stan Chesley, who paid him $200,000 a year for five years and gave him a $990,000 slice of a lawsuit settlement, according to Deters’ divorce case in Hamilton County.
But Chesley’s firm collapsed, and Chesley was disbarred from the practice of law for cheating his clients out of millions of dollars in a lawsuit settlement. He then signed on with the law firm of Eric “the Bulldog” Deters to work on litigation against a doctor, Atiq Durrani, accused of performing hundreds of spine surgeries that weren’t medically necessary.
Eric Deters, who is not related to Joe, was suspended from the practice of law for ethics violations. Joe Deters never disclosed publicly how much he received in compensation from Eric Deters. In 2015, Joe Deters hired Eric Deters' daughter Erica and her fiancé Cooper Bowen as assistant prosecutors.
Eric Deters told CityBeat that Joe Deters quit working for him in early 2017. Wilson confirmed that.
Joe Deters, who received 55 percent of the vote in 2016, has not said publicly if he would ever return to full-time service. He receives a $96,471 annual salary for part-time work. He would receive $137,194 if he gave up the right to make money on the side. State law does not require him to report how he divides his work week between his elected job and his forays in the private-sector.
CONTACT JAMES McNAIR at [email protected], 513-914-2736 or @jmacnews on Twitter