Man Indicted In Hoax

CELINA — An Indiana man is being held on a $50,000 cash bond in connection with a false report made through Mercer County 911 and false information he allegedly provided to law enforcement agencies during the emergency response to that false report last month.  

According to a news release issued by the Celina Police Department, on June 6, a call to Mercer County 911 indicated a subject had laid a motionless child on the concrete pad by the lighthouse that is located on the northwest corner of Grand Lake St. Marys in Celina.  

The caller then contacted the 911 operator a second time to report that the subject had placed the child in the water and held him down with a rock.  

Emergency crews from the Celina Police Department, Celina Fire Department and ODNR responded to the scene. They were later assisted by the Celina Street Department.  

While nothing at the scene was found to support the original claim made by the caller, a decision was made to check the shoreline, both in and out of the water to insure there was not a victim in the area. While crews were checking for a victim, a video surveillance camera from the Celina Water Treatment Plant was reviewed and it showed that no one was in the area at the time of the call.

The Celina Police Department, with the assistance of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and local telephone companies, were able to trace the call, even though the number was blocked. Further investigation identified the person that number was issued to, John R. Walsh, 29, of Marion, Ind., as a suspect in the incident.  

The Celina Police Department presented the case to the Mercer County grand jury in June and the indictment returned included charges of making a false report, a fifth-degree felony, inducing panic, a fifth-degree felony, falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor, and obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The felony charges are based on the cost of the emergency crews who responded to the scene of the false report. Ohio law allows for misdemeanor charges if the economic harm involved in such a response is less than $1,000.

If the economic harm is between $1,000 and $7,500 the charge is a fifth-degree felony. The cost estimate for this incident is $1,200.

Walsh made several contacts with local criminal justice offices during the last month, but was not located until this week. The Marion (Indiana) Police Department picked up Walsh on Tuesday and he was turned over to Mercer County sheriff's deputies on Wednesday.  

He appeared in Mercer County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held on the $50,000 cash bond. His next court appearance will be an arraignment hearing scheduled for July 18.