Grand jury accuses Tri-State attorney of conspiracy to destroy evidence

Mary Jill & Sean Donovan from Facebook
Mary Jill & Sean Donovan from Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The wife of former Hamilton County Chief Deputy Sean Donovan has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that, as an attorney, she told a client who would soon face drug charges to destroy evidence.

According to the indictment obtained by FOX19, the grand jury accuses Mary Jill ("MJ") Donovan of telling her client to "Destroy the sim," meaning the SIM card in a cell phone.

FOX19's investigative team has discovered through federal court records that the client referred to as "P.S." in the indictment is Phillip Shaw. He was charged in March of last year of being part of a group that tried to steal half a kilo of heroin and a quarter kilo of powder cocaine that the FBI believes he would've sold.

According to documents in that case, federal judge Susan J. Dlott approved a wiretap on Shaw's phone 13 days before he was charged.

The indictment against attorney MJ Donovan alleges that about a week before the judge approved the wiretap, Donovan texted her client directing him to get rid of the SIM card on his phone and to "change phones."

According to the indictment, after that, a person identified as "R.T." texted Shaw asking: "Did mj say it was bad or good."

"She ain't say," the indictment says Shaw replied.

The indictment against Donovan says that after Shaw received the text messages directing him to destroy the SIM card, he did destroy it and changed his telephone number. The next day, according to the indictment, Shaw went to Donovan's law office "and confirmed he had destroyed the SIM card." The indictment does not say how federal investigators obtained this information.

The grand jury accuses her of getting Shaw to destroy the evidence to help another client, identified as "J.B."

FOX19 has confirmed through Hamilton County court records that this client is 27-year-old John Brown, who was being investigated by a federal grand jury, too. The indictment does not say whether destroying the SIM card hurt the federal case against Brown. But it does say he was charged by the state of Ohio with "having weapons under disability, which is a felony."

Hamilton County court records show a judge sentenced Brown to about two-and-a-half years in prison in April of last year on that charge.

FOX19 e-mailed Mrs. Donovan this afternoon seeking her side of the story. Her defense attorneys e-mailed us a statement saying: 

"Mary Jill Donovan is a well respected attorney and member of the community.  She has a long history of representing the accused and less fortunate in society as well as contributing to the betterment of Cincinnati through civic and charitable work over many years.   The indictment is not an accurate recitation of all the relevant  facts.   We are confident that she will be fully exonerated as all of the facts come out at trial."

Federal court records show Donovan's other client, Shaw, pleaded guilty in April of this year to two of the counts against him: Conspiracy to possess and attempt to possess 100 grams or more of heroin with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Judge Dlott sentenced Shaw to a little more than ten years behind bars.

Donovan's law office is located at 910 Race Street in Cincinnati, according to an Internet search. Her law firm's website is currently down.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.