Report Finds Conspiracy - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Report Finds Conspiracy

The long awaited police investigation into the Hamilton snow plow disaster was released Wednesday, and it was scathing.

The month long probe included revelations of secret memos, leaked information, and cover-ups. It concluded streets weren't plowed because of a conspiracy.

December 22, 2004 Hamilton was pounded with 16 inches of snow. A week later, many city streets were still not cleared. Because of it, the city was inundated with hundreds of complaints, including many allegations that plow drivers intentionally did a poor job clearing the snow. The 213 page investigation supports those allegations.

It says some union workers, upset with having to pay more for heath insurance, decided to hit the city where it hurts. Several witnesses told investigators the city's Assistant Street and Sewer Superintendent, Ed Swope, told union plow drivers, "we need to teach the city administration a lesson."

Police Chief Neil Ferdelman says Swope disliked his bosses in the city's administration and was instigating the drivers into intentionally doing a slow or bad job plowing. "There were statements he made," Ferdelman says, "that indicated the superintendent would be surprised when the next snowfall occurred."

Swope told Fox 19 News Wednesday night he had no comment, but in an exclusive interview his lawyer says Swope was set up as the fall guy. "That's what I call a cover-up," John Holcomb says.

Holcomb says the investigation was designed to shift blame away from the administration. And that Swope, who retired last week because he saw the political firestorm coming, was an easy target. "This is the result you would expect when the city administration investigates itself, they pass the blame right on down the pike."

Other lower level employees are mentioned in the report for wrong-doing. The city will now look at disciplining them.

At the same time, several plow drivers say they did nothing wrong. "Our group did not stage a slow down," Arnold Baker, plow driver, says. "They worked their tails off."

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