Candidate Al Myers is convinced that a 2010 sealing of his ethics charges record clears him to become a Delaware County commissioner should he win March's primary race and again in November.

Candidate Al Myers is convinced that a 2010 sealing of his ethics charges record clears him to become a Delaware County commissioner should he win March's primary race and again in November.

Others aren't so sure.

In 2007, Myers, then Delaware County sheriff, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of conflict of interest and receiving improper compensation, which bar him from public office for seven years.

Myers says the sealing of his record by Judge James Fais means he has no record and has the right to hold office.

The Delaware County Board of Elections certified Myers' bid for commissioner, stating it doesn't have the authority to stop him from running if he meets all criteria, which they said he did.

Delaware County Republican Party Central Committee Chair Robert Mann told ThisWeek the committee "reviewed this matter with legal counsel and the conclusion was that the right to be on the ballot is separate from the right to hold office.

"It does not appear that Al Myers is eligible to take office if he prevails," Mann said, relaying an Ohio Supreme Court case holding that sealing or even expunging a criminal record does not overcome the Ohio statutes barring persons from holding office.

Mann said he's "sure a challenge will be filed if Al Myers somehow prevails."

Myers said he has an opinion issued by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery saying "that a sealed record is just that and should be treated as if it didn't happen and a person is eligible to hold office."

"The sealing of my record, if they want to go back and read the statute, it says when a judge makes that ruling it is as if the offense never occurred and based on that there is no record of anything nor is there limitations because it no longer exists," Myers said. "I'm going to qualify one part of that. I'm never denying the fact that I had a misdemeanor conviction. All I'm saying is a judge felt it was in the best interest of the public to seal that record and the statute says it's as if it never existed."

Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, said, speaking in general, Ohio law provides for filing a "quo warranto" action, which is a civil action against somebody who unlawfully holds a public office.

"The statute provides that the action can be done by either the attorney general or prosecuting attorney. In this situation, the Delaware County prosecuting attorney would probably be the one since it's a county office," Nick said. "The statute says when directed by the governor, supreme court, secretary of state or general assembly, (then) the attorney general or prosecuting attorney shall commence an action. But how that's interpreted and what it means, I would defer to the Delaware County Prosecutor or the Ohio Attorney General in terms of how that proceeds."

Delaware County prosecutor spokesperson Traci Whittaker said the prosecutor would not comment on the issue as there is no case before the office.

Fais told The Columbus Dispatch that banning Myers from public office is not part of Myers' sentence, but a requirement by law and stands.

Myers was elected to three terms as sheriff before resigning May 31, 2007. The next day, he pleaded guilty to the charges.

He was accused of trading four sheriff's drug task force vehicles with auto dealerships where a relative worked.

As a result of the transactions, Myers' relative received $1,323 in commissions.

Additionally, Myers accepted $9,101 in illegal payments from the Delaware County Agricultural Society and Blooded Horse Sales Inc. for off-duty work at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 2005 and 2006.

Then-county Prosecutor David Yost said Myers could not accept the money because the sheriff is considered on duty 24 hours every day.

Yost said Myers could have been charged with a felony and the guilty plea was negotiated so the sheriff's office could get on with protecting the public.

Fais ordered Myers to perform 50 hours of community service and pay $1,323.88 in restitution and $800 in fines.

Myers later told ThisWeek he was remorseful, but his actions did not damage the public or involve taxpayer dollars.

Despite assertions the sheriff is "on duty" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Myers said state laws mandate that sheriffs are "on call" at all times, but only are required to report to his or her respective county jail only once every 30 days.

He said he chose the auto dealership because it offered the lowest prices for the vehicles, and he noted money seized from drug investigations were used for the purchases.

Yost dismissed those explanations as irrelevant.

ThisWeek reporter Nate Ellis contributed to this story.