Bellbrook superintendent takes plea deal

Former board member also takes deal

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

BELLBROOK — Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Doug Cozad and a former board member agreed to a plea deal, avoiding going to trial in a criminal case.

Cozad and Elizabeth Betz took Alford Pleas to one count of dereliction of duty, a second degree misdemeanor, with all other counts being dismissed. Under an Alford Plea, the defendants maintain their innocence but admit that the prosecution’s evidence would likely result in a guilty verdict if brought to trial.

Cozad, along with former board members Betz, Kathy Kingston, Virginia Slouffman, and current board member David Carpenter were charged with multiple counts of illegal transaction of public funds and dereliction of duty in November 2021 for alleged actions during the district’s 2019 operating levy campaign. The state dismissed charges against Kingston due to her health, while David Carpenter and Slouffman are still set for a bench trial.

As part of the deal, Cozad paid $5,803.59 in restitution to the district while Betz paid $1,303.59.

“This plea allows me to maintain my innocence and, at the same time, put this situation behind me in order to move forward both personally and professionally,” Cozad posted on the district website. “In my heart of hearts, I know I acted in good faith and in the best interest of the district in this still unclear area of the law, but the emotional, mental, and financial risks of going to a jury trial and putting my future in the hands of others is too great. During my entire career and throughout this whole ordeal, I have never compromised my integrity.”

Board members Audra Dorn, Heidi Anderson, Mike Kinsey, and Kevin Price issued a statement after learning of the plea agreement.

“We thank Dr. Doug Cozad for his professionalism during this difficult time. We know it has been a strain on all parties involved. The board of education has not yet decided what, if any, actions are required of it at this time. However, the board is seeking further information and guidance on this matter.”

Former board member also takes deal

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.