Investigation launched after Ohio inmate files fake documents pleading case for early release

Posted at 5:13 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 18:30:50-05

An Ohio inmate forged certificates and documents that demonstrate good behavior to help plead his case for early release. 

Now the case has launched a statewide investigation — revolving around Warren Correctional inmate Mario Redding. 

According to Cuyahoga County's assistant prosecuting attorney, Steven Szelagiewicz, four certificates listed within Redding's motion for judicial release to demonstrate good behavior, self-help and education behind bars are fake.

"At least four forged, some real and others we can't prove either way," he said. "A carpentry one that was forged, two different drafting ones that were forged and an anger management one we know is forged."

The fake documents are bolstering a request that is meant to lead to early release from prison. Redding and his attorney, Paul Daiker, filed the certificates within that request. Often denied, their 59-page motion led to a judge scheduling a hearing, this summer, for judicial release. 

"Do you think there's ever been a case like this where these could have been fake and it led to someone getting out early?" News 5 asked the assistant prosecuting attorney. "It's always possible," he said, "They look official, I don't know exactly how they made them."

As far as Redding goes?

"He's committing forgeries! He's still committing crimes behind bars. He needs to stay in and complete his sentence," Szelagiewicz said. 

A forgery misstep was the first clue that at least some of the documents were inaccurate. The signatures on the Anger Management Group Certificate, with honors, are from a psychology supervisor and assistant who didn't work with the prison on Sept. 9, 2016. According to the warden's assistant, Dr. Paul Goodwin left in April of 2015. 

That document warranted a closer look and Ohio's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found and confirmed to the prosecutor's office more of Redding's certificate's had been forged.

Redding's case

Redding's request for an early release comes after just under 11 years behind bars on an 18-year sentence.

According to records, Mario Redding ran a stop sign in 2007 — hitting and killing a young man on a motorcycle. Instead of stopping to help, he fled.

Police say he was on probation and driving without a license at the time and detectives ended up finding him through car parts left at the scene. 

Eventually, Redding pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and four unrelated felony drug charges for trafficking in crack cocaine and possession of crack. 

The workers in the prosecutor's office are not the only ones taking a close look at Redding and what he's filed. The family of the young man he killed, Eddy Roland, is also looking into this.

"When everything starts to heal and go away, something else comes up," Roland's brother Jeff Cook told News 5.

Cook said when he saw Redding file for early release. "I took things into my own hands and started investigating them myself," he said. 

According to Cook, he used to work inside a prison and noticed red flags in what Redding was filing and claiming to have earned.

"For some of the programs he had them for? You have to be in certain behavior levels. It's impossible for him to have been able to qualify for those classes," Cook said. 

He told News 5 he asked for the prison and the prosecutor's office to look into them. 

"Hopefully now the prosecutor's office and the court will take a better look at these judicial releases and at the documents that are being submitted," Jeff Cook said. 

A changed man?

According to the 59-page filing for judicial release, Redding claims to be a changed man. Enrolled since 2014 in the Advance Job Training Program, through Youngstown State University, where has made the Dean's List. 

Now married, his wife is also petitioning online for his release. 

News 5 dug deeper, finding 79 infractions in Redding's prison record, including threatening the lives of officers, drug and cell phone violations. 

There have been no infractions over the past year. 

But with at least four certificates of the more than 34 filed in that defense, proven to be forged, there's a larger issue according to the prosecutor.

"These were relied on. They look real," Szelagiewicz said. 

Troubling, according to him, when you consider the forgery happened behind bars, under surveillance and made its way into official court documents.

So, is Mario Redding the only Ohio prisoner forging documents that demonstrate good behavior to a court?

"He may just be the first to get caught?" News 5 asked. "Right,"  Szelagiewicz said. 

What does the DRC say? 

News 5 first reached out to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction earlier this month, then again with the information about these inaccurate certificates.

We tried to find out the normal procedure and what materials inmates have access to while under supervision, specifically asking for Warren Correctional, where Redding is now, and Trumbull, where this reportedly happened. 

No one got back to us. Eventually sending this in response to a third request made Friday.

"DRC does not comment on active criminal investigations," the statement said. 

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office confirmed this case is now launching an Ohio State Highway Patrol investigation within Ohio Corrections and Rehabilitation to determine what is going on, for how long and what it will take to make sure it never happens again. 

"Theoretically, there could be charges out of this," Szelagiewicz said. 

Right now, in Redding's case, the prosecutor told News 5 the judge has not commented on this most recent opposition filed, outlining the inaccurate and forged certificates. 

News 5 requested an interview or statement from Mario Redding's attorney, Paul Daiker, he did not respond to call or email requests. 

News 5 will follow-up with the Ohio State Highway Patrol when they conclude this investigation.