The father of Kelley Williams Bolar, the Akron woman convicted of falsifying documents to enroll her two daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn School District, has died at the OSU Medical Center in Columbus. The Summit County Prosecutor's Office reports Edward Williams died May 10th. Williams, 64, was serving a one year prison sentence on conviction of falsifying records. He was convicted of bilking the government out of $100,000. Williams had served about two-thirds of his sentence.
The tentative cause of death is cardiac arrest, and organ failure.
In December a judge denied Williams request to be released from prison early due to poor health.
Prosecutors, during the hearing before retired judge Ted Schneiderman, said Williams was still plotting schemes to secure government funds, pointing to a jailhouse phone conversation with his daughter where they discussed potentially setting up his Copley Township home as a daycare center.
Williams-Bolar was also convicted of records falsification and served nine days of a ten day sentence ina case that sparked controversy and debate across the nation, including an appearance on Dr. Phil. Her felony conviction was later commuted by Governor John Kasich despite a unanimous decision by the Ohio Parole Board that her conviction stand.
Kelley Williams-Bolar is in the spotlight again -- this time, as a spokesperson for a Cleveland-based school choice program.
When last spotted, Williams-Bolar was on the receiving end of Governor Kasich's clemency order clearing her felony record for records falsification. Now she's heading up a group called the Ohio Parents Union, and will be a featured speaker at a Cleveland school choice rally. Her supporters at the Bernard Center for Women based outside of Washington say she was "the Ohio mother arrested for stealing education" in a news release.
Williams-Bolar's case drew national attention for much of 2011, including a full program (photo, left) on the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Phil" television program.
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(Bernard Center for Women) Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother who was arrested for “stealing education” and now heads the Ohio Parents Union, will join Michelle Bernard, President and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy and Pastor Andrew D. Clark Sr. of Trinity Outreach Ministries to rally parents and their children this Sunday, February 22, to become foot soldiers for school choice at an Education Equality rally in Cleveland.
“As we approach the end of Black History Month, it’s important to remember that our civil rights struggle continues,” said Bernard. “Education equality is the key to raising all children out of poverty and making sure that our future is brighter than the darkest days of our past.”
“We are thrilled to have Kelley Williams-Bolar share the story of her fight for educational equality for her children,” Bernard continued. “And hosting this event at Trinity Outreach Ministries, where they do so much important work to support their community and the fight for education in Cleveland is an honor.”
Kelley Williams-Bolar served 9 days in jail for “stealing education” in January 2011. Her “crime” was enrolling her children in a safer school district than the one in which she resided. Now, Williams-Bolar heads up the Ohio Parents Union, modeled after the Parent Trigger that was started in California.
Ohio is embracing school choice. The state has provided school choice options since 1995 and has pending legislation to expand some programs. There are currently 368 full-time charter schools and 27 full-time online charter school programs. Last January, Governor John Kasich issued a resolution designating January 22nd-28th School Choice Week in Ohio.
It's a no for Edward Williams on his bid to be let out of prison early.
This is the case of the father of Akron school mom Kelley Willliams-Bolar we've been following. He's currently serving a one-year sentence for records falsification at the Lorain Correctional Institution and argued poor health should be taken into account.
Retired Judge Ted Schneiderman, hearing the case with the retirement of Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove, today denied the motion for early release.
Williams has served about half of his sentence on charges he bilked the government out of $100,000. Prosecutors argued he was still plotting schemes to secure government funds, pointing to a jailhouse phone conversation with his daughter where they discussed potentially setting up his Copley Township home as a daycare center.
Williams-Bolar was also convicted of records falsification and served nine days of a ten day sentence in a case that sparked controversy and debate across the nation, including an appearance on Dr. Phil. Her felony conviction was later commuted by Governor John Kasich despite a unanimous decision by the Ohio Parole Board that her conviction stand.
AUDIO Williams-Bolar And Dad: Jailhouse Conversation
Williams-Bolar Dad Wants Out
Last week we discovered something that raised our eyebrows -- and it came during a court hearing set up to consider the early release of Edward Williams, the Copley Township father of Akron school mom figure Kelley Williams-Bolar.
Prosecutors opposing early release noted a phone conversation between the two discovered their plans to open a day care facility and a group home on his Copley Township property -- with a business plan targeting possibly tapping taxpayer money. At the time of the call, Williams-Bolar was still in trouble for falsifying documents; her father was heading from jail to prison with a one-year sentence for fraud.
A CD containing that phone conversation was provided by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office at our request. It sounds like Williams is talking to someone other than Kelley Williams-Bolar for the first half of the call. There are verbal cues, such as, "I told Kelley ... " or "Kelley wants to talk to you." Later he says, "Kelley, Kelley."
"When you get the group home, you just tell them you're going to hire people with a four year degree," said Williams. "Don't put nobody's name on there because we might be firing people all the time and you don't have to have your degree."
Williams is offering those instructions, saying that they'll worry about who to hire when it's time to open.
Approval from the Department of Job and Family Services is necessary if you plan to take any public money as payment for services. Prosecutors portrayed the conversation as a "plot" to take taxpayer money "through a scam."
**NOTE: May contain language offensive to some listeners
At one point in the conversation, you'll notice a similarity between Williams and his daughter, who got in trouble for falsifying documents, including using her father's address on official government documents as if it was her address. Williams mentions in the phone chat to the unidentified person that he's going to change his address to a post office box.
The second part of the conversation (embedded below) features Kelley Williams-Bolar offering her opinion on getting the new business venture off the ground.
**NOTE: May contain language offensive to some listeners.
Williams must have called at a bad time. As he's trying to explain how to handle some legal affairs and get the day care center started as he awaits prison time, he's told to "hang on," as we can clearly hear an order being placed at McDonald's.
The father of Akron school-switching mom Kelley Williams-Bolar wants out early.
Edward Williams, 65, has served about half of his 12-month sentence for bilking the government out of about $100,000, although attorneys filed the initial paperwork asking for judicial release less than a month after he was sentenced.
While both sides offered brief arguments before retired Judge Ted Schneiderman, there was a particular component that raises eyebrows: A jailhouse phone conversation between Williams and his daughter, Kelley Williams-Bolar, that prosecutors say depicts them plotting to scam more money from the government. Specifically, according to Assistant Prosecutor Mike Cody, Williams proposes using his Copley Township home as a for-profit day care during daytime hours, but designating it as a non-profit group home at night in an attempt to avoid paying taxes on the property.
The conversation took place as Williams was waiting to be transported from the Summit County Jail to a state prison just days after his sentencing and about a month before Williams-Bolar appeared before the Ohio Parole Board.
"As the court is aware, he's an elderly man," said Williams' attorney, Job Perry, who cited health issues as one of the reasons Williams should be released early. Briefs filed with the court state that Williams has spent a lot of time in the infirmary and has suffered a stroke since entering prison, in addition to numerous other health issues.
Cody told the court that prosecutors and the judge who presided over Williams' trial already took health and age into account, with now-retired Judge Patricia Cosgrove handing him a 12-month stint, rather than the maximum 13 years. According to Cody, Williams has made his own health worse by refusing to take medication and to stop drinking alcohol over the years.
Williams hearing by Akron NewsNow
"To the victims in this case, I think he needs to get out and make restitution to make those victims and make those victims whole," said Perry. "We believe that a six month prison sentence is enough at this point."
The state also brought up Williams' prison record. There are six marks against his name, two each for:
Perry says those behavioral violations are minor.
Schneiderman says he'll listen to the phone call and weigh the other arguments before making a decision on judicial release.
Attorneys for Kelley Williams-Boar agree that moving forward with her pending appeal serves a purpose
The center of the controversy, known as the "Akron school mom case," stems from Williams-Bolar falsifying documents to send her daughters to Copley-Fairlawn Schools. Governor John Kasich commuted the felony convictions to misdemeanors, prompting a magistrate in the appeals court to ask both sides if the commutation had any impact on the appeal.
Marguerite Sloan with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center says her client is worried that the misdemeanors could still have a negative impact on a future teaching license.
Williams-Bolar is hoping the whole thing gets overturned.
Prosecutors previously stated that they agree there is no legal reason to not hold the trial.
More time to file a brief, that is.
The Akron mom who got in trouble for falsifying documents to send her daughters to Copley-Fairlawn schools filed an appeal of her felony convictions before a commutation granted by Governor John Kasich.
Since then, a 9th District Court of Appeals judge told both sides that briefs discussing the impact of the commutation on the appeal must be filed by today or the case would be dismissed.
The Summit County Prosecutor's Office filed paperwork and it seems they look forward to another courtroom showdown with Williams-Bolar. Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh says the appeal should move forward. She cites legal definitions of "commutation" as a term that refers to a change in punishment and states that Williams-Bolar is appealing her conviction, not the resulting sentence.
As of 12:00 p.m. today, attorneys for Williams-Bolar had not filed the necessary paperwork. It's unclear if they will be granted additional time.
The Kelley Williams-Bolar case has dominated news coverage, commentary and published opinion for nearly a year now, leading up to Governor John Kasich's decision Wednesday to bump her felony convictions down to misdemeanors. "When I first heard of this situation, it seemed to me the penalty was excessive for the offense," the Governor told reporters after his decision was released.
Apparently, the Governor hadn't done much thinking beyond the "first heard" and the message he's sending ought to alarm anyone looking for a message that the state's Chief Executive is as much a protector of the taxpayers as he is a final arbiter of justice.
There was outcry when Williams-Bolar -- convicted by a jury of tampering with government records for her lies to get her daughters enrolled in Copley-Fairlawn Schools and receiving school lunch benefits -- was found guilty, then sentenced. The law is pretty clear on government records tampering being treated as a felony, but the facts of the case didn't seem to stand in the way of a good story fitting an editorial slant here in Akron and around the country.
It was a slam-dunk in the word of editorial and commentary writing: hard-working, African-American, single mother, student working on her degree singled out by an uncaring system that wouldn't give her a break. What's not to love about jumping on the bandwagon of Akron's version of Les Mis? Plenty of people did, especially the national media relying on a slim outline of facts to base it's opinion.
As opposed to the jury of Williams-Bolar's that actually sat through the entire trial. Or the Copley-Fairlawn school board, lawyers, and administrators who took more than a year to try and get the case resolved, as it did with every other family with residency issues.
Or the abused prosecutors who quickly came to realize Williams-Bolar and her father had no intention of taking responsibility for their actions but, instead, opted to play craps with the justice system and see if they could get a better deal. Or the abused judge who gave Williams-Bolar one of the most lenient of sentences on her convictions when the Williams-Bolar's defense crapped out.
Or most of you who've commented on this story the past nine months, especially after the facts ignored or discarded in the first round of editorial outrage started to come out.
Or the Ohio Parole Board, which spent months compiling evidence and conducted a hearing that showcased the following:
The facts do matter in this case, but they've been glossed over by a narrative that has more to do with a social agenda and vision than they do with the State v Kelley Williams-Bolar. It's apparent from Governor Kasich's comments, reported in the Columbus Dispatch, that his decision was not based on the rule of law. It's apparent from Governor Kasich's comments, reported by the Dispatch, that his decision wasn't based on the facts. It is apparent, from Governor Kasich's comments, that his decision was based more on an editorial viewpoint slanted by ignoring the facts.
What is even more disturbing is the insinuation that the Governor acted in a political manner based on racial politics.
After a speech yesterday in Cleveland, Kasich said he is “very sensitive to the notion that we want our African-American community to have as much opportunity as we can. Now, what she did was wrong, but in my opinion, it did not rise to the level of a felony." - Columbus Dispatch September 8, 2011
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Does this mean Valerie Ziemba of North Canton, who was also convicted by a Summit County jury of felony charges relating to scamming food stamps and welfare benefits at about the same time as Kelley Williams-Bolar, isn't entitled to the same "opportunity" because there's no sensitivity to her race? Ziemba was sentenced to 10 days in jail, four months house arrested, two years probation and ordered to repay $14,427 to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Williams-Bolar got a trip to Dr. Phil.
We frequently hear the phrase that America is a nation of laws, not men. Apparently the laws making tampering with government records a felony don't apply when your friends include Congressman Jesse Jackson, who urged his friend John Kasich to look on this case "...from his heart and saw a child of God, not an offender." Apparently the taxpayers of Copley-Fairlawn, who follow the rules, aren't a consideration when enforcing the law. Apparently even Ohio's own BMV, which administers drivers licenses, isn't a consideration when a motorist convicted of using a false address to obtain benefits she is not deserving of employs the exact same strategy just days before appearing before the Parole Board to show why she is deserving of consideration for clemency.
There are some who will note the Governor's decision shows moral courage. I offer it provides the opposite, with a view of political expediency. This was a decision where race, friendships and opinion formed before the facts were even known mattered more than the rule of law. Where compassion depended on sending a message that the "we want the African-American community to have as much opportunity as we can" instead of the opportunity to reinforce the seemingly outdated notion that we are responsible for our own actions, and the justice system is more than a roll of the dice to catch a better deal.
Where some see Kelley Williams-Bolar as a symbol of oppression, I see a symbol of a grifter mentality that hurts rather than strengthens the system of a safety net designed to help those in need. Those who seek help lift themselves and their families out of their present circumstances rather than using it as a way of life. Where getting is part of going forward and improving to the point where individuals do more than take.
Governor Kasich, acting as a judge in the case of the State v Kelley Williams-Bolar, had an opportunity to show courage by showing us he would consider all that came following the initial narrative defined by national pundits with ill-informed opinions. His rapid decision reflects his mind was made up long before this nation of laws -- and not men -- even started.
News release - Office of Governor John Kasich:
Today Governor John R. Kasich announced that he has used his executive clemency authority to reduce the offenses of Kelley Williams-Bolar from two third-degree felonies to two first-degree misdemeanors. Williams-Bolar was convicted in January, 2011, of two counts of tampering with records, felonies of the third degree, for falsifying information so that she could send her children to Copley-Fairlawn City Schools instead of Akron Public Schools, the district in which she lived.
“When I first heard about this situation, it seemed to me that the penalty was excessive for the offense. In addition, the penalty could exclude her from certain economic opportunities for the rest of her life. So, today I’ve reduced those felony convictions to what I think are the more appropriate, first degree misdemeanors. No one should interpret this as a pass—it’s a second chance,” said Kasich.
Kasich’s commutation specifies that Williams-Bolar’s sentence is reduced to not more than 180 days in jail—the maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor—and retains the Court’s conditions that all but 10 days be suspended, as long as she complies with the Court’s original nine provisions:
· Report to the Adult Probation Department, pay a $20-per-month fee, and abide by the department’s regulations;
· Refrain from offensive conduct of every nature and obey all laws;
· Serve 10 days in the Summit County Jail, with credit for one day previously served;
· Complete 80 hours community service;
· Complete a mentorship through the NAACP or her church and write the Court a letter upon completion;
· Maintain permanent full-time employment and/or attend school;
· Do not consume any illegal drugs or chemicals, including any alcoholic beverages;
· Submit to random and frequent urinalysis testing; and
· Pay the costs of prosecution as directed by the Adult Probation Department.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh today released the following statement in response to Governor John Kasich’s reduction of Kelley Williams-Bolar’s conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor:
“I greatly appreciate the time and care the jury took when considering this case. After hearing all of the evidence, the jury upheld the laws set forth by the Ohio legislature that state that tampering with government documents is a felony offense. And I was pleased that the Ohio Parole Board also carefully considered all of the facts on this case, including information that was discovered between the conclusion of Ms. Williams-Bolar’s trial and her clemency hearing. “Governor Kasich is not required to uphold a jury’s verdict, nor must he follow the Parole Board’s recommendation to reject clemency, even when that recommendation is unanimous.”
And the verdict is ---- no clemency, in ANY form, including a pardon.
Ohio's Parole Board releasing it's recommendation -- on a unanimous 8-nothing vote -- on the bid by Akron's Kelley Williams-Bolar to win parole on her records tampering conviction in what's become known as the Akron School Mom case. The Parole Board recommendation goes to Governor Kasich, who is not bound by the decision.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE LIVE BLOG coverage of the Clemency Hearing
The Board rejected arguments her conviction would hold an unfair impact on her ability to finish college and get a teaching certificate. It also clearly turned aside arguments she was a victim of selective prosecution, even noting Williams-Bolar continued to misrepresent herself as living at her father's address. In the parole hearing, members were surprised to learn she'd still used her father's address recently to renew her driver's license.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh commented: “we are pleased that the Ohio Parole Board seriously considered the facts on both sides of this case and ultimately agreed that Ms. Bolar does not deserve clemency.” Walsh added “while I am always happy when a deserving person is given clemency, Ms. Bolar clearly does not fit into that category.”
In it's 16-page decision, the Parole Board noted it did not buy Williams-Bolar's defense that the case was one of an honest mistake and needs to show compliance with the court's sentence, calling her a "wholly undeserving candidate for any type of clemency."
LINK to the Ohio Parole Board's decision (.pdf file)
Following careful examination of all the available information in this case, including a hearing to fully consider the merits, the Parole Board voted unanimously to submit an unfavorable recommendation regarding any form of clemency, including a pardon. The ecommendation is based on the following:
Ms. Williams-Bolar claims that her actions were based on her desire to keep her children safe, and had nothing to do with obtaining a better education for them as was widely publicized, as she was not dissatisfied with the education they were receiving at the Akron Public School district. It is difficult for the Board to follow the logic of how her children’s enrollment in a different school district entails keeping her children safe after school, and was the real reason behind her enrollment of her daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn school district. She failed to utilize any legitimate means to resolve this safety issue, the extent to which she could not even recall, including moving in with her father who lives in a five-bedroom 3,000 square foot home, or researching after-school and/or babysitting options. Ms. Williams-Bolar was faced with a no more difficult situation than any other working parent who must ensure that their children are safe during before and after school hours in their absence. Most parents find legitimate and legal options to address this issue. Ms. Williams-Bolar’s only response was to be deceitful.
Ms. Williams-Bolar had the opportunity to move into the district and resolve this situation without any further action by the Copley-Fairlawn District. This particular option was not available to many of the other families that were also investigated. Instead, Ms. Williams-Bolar demonstrated a pattern of deceitful behavior, both before and after her criminal indictment. Moreover, post indictment and conviction behavior that was presented at the clemency hearing demonstrate that she continued this same pattern of conduct and deceitfulness.
The Board also finds that the argument that Ms. Williams-Bolar should be granted a pardon due to the fact that her conviction will preclude her from becoming a teacher is not well-taken. Ms. Williams-Bolar is nowhere near to obtaining a college degree in anydiscipline, let alone in education or early childhood development. To date, she has not been accepted into a degree-granting college at The University of Akron, despite the fact that she has been attending classes on and off since 1988. The consequence of her conviction is not a real harm, as she has hardly made the efforts necessary to obtain a degree to fulfill her desire to become a teacher. The Board does not find it appropriate to recommend a pardon based on a goal that appears unlikely to be sincerely pursued.
The Board Members do not find that this was a case of selective prosecution or an honest mistake on the part of Ms. Williams-Bolar. Rather, she was convicted by a jury, and the sentence of a brief stay in jail and community control is not disparate or disproportionate.
Ms. Williams-Bolar continues to misrepresent herself as living at her father’s residence. She admitted during her clemency hearing that she had her driver’s license renewed and listed her father’s address as recently as a few weeks ago. She does not seem to understand nor accept the fact that the Black Pond address is not her legal residence, when she has resided and continues to reside at the Hartford Avenue address.
Finally, the Board finds that Ms. Williams-Bolar needs to demonstrate compliance with the court’s sentence, community supervision, and a substantial period of time in the community, without similar behavior, prior to clemency being considered. At this point in time, Ms. Williams-Bolar is a wholly undeserving candidate for any type of clemency.
Following consideration of available information, the Ohio Parole Board, with eight (8) members participating, recommends to the Honorable John R. Kasich, Governor of the State of Ohio, by a vote of eight (8) to zero (0), that Clemency in any form including a pardon should not be granted.
"The law of the State of Ohio and the policy of the Copley-Fairlawn City School District is that a tuition-free education will be provided only to those school age children whose parents or legal guardians are bona fide residents of the District. The Copley-Fairlawn School District has neither the capacity -- not the legal authority -- to expend taxpayer dollars to finance the education of those students who are not residents. In the circumstance of Ms. Williams-Bolar, the Board of Education was repeatedly lied to and intentionally deceived in an effort to circumvent both the law and Board policy. As such, the jury correctly applied the law and unanimously found her guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of laws that are appropriately crafted and measured to protect public institutions from being intentionally defrauded. The judge responded with appropriate sentencing, given the Defendant's wholesale refusal to accept any responsibility for her actions. Any effort to reduce or otherwise mitigate the verdict or the sentence under these facts would communicate exactly the wrong message and result in a significant hardship for Copley-Fairlawn Schools and many other districts in Ohio who are similarly situated, i.e. those districts which have a fiduciary duty to the voters and taxpayers of their communities."
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