Skip to comments.Woman’s identity taken by state agents (Tactics by Big Brother Ohio)
Posted on 04/10/2005 8:37:10 PM PDT by Columbus Dawg
Haley Dawson has never been a stripper.
But Ohio liquor-control agents took her identity and gave it to a 22-year-old college student who they had recruited to work undercover as a nude dancer.
As part of an investigation that resulted in nothing more than misdemeanor charges, police paid University of Dayton criminal-justice student Michelle Szuhay $100 a night to take it all off in early 2003 as liquor-control officers drank beer and watched in the audience for three months, court papers show.
Other officers watched her strip on the Internet, using an account created under the identity of a dead man.
The officers did all this by using Dawsons drivers license and Social Security number to hide Szuhays identity while she worked at the targeted strip club, the now-closed Total Xposure in Troy.
To Dawsons father, David Dawson, "It certainly looks like identity theft."
But its not, said Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal.
Pointing to a 2002 change in Ohios law aimed at fighting identity theft, Nasal said police are allowed to assume anyones identity as long as its part of an investigation.
"I dont know much about law, but I would say thats just baloney," said David Dawson, who lives part of the year in Columbus. He is the brother of Mike Dawson, the chief policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine.
Ohio Rep. Jim Hughes, the Columbus Republican who sponsored the change, also disagrees with Nasal, as do the American Civil Liberties Union and a lobbyist who pushed for the legal change.
"It was not intended for that, I can tell you that," Hughes said.
The law was changed to help solve credit-card fraud and other identitytheft crimes, said John Van Dorn, lobby- ist for HSBC North America, one of the banks that championed the change.
As with any form of identity theft, the consequences could have been "enormous" to Haley Dawson, said Jeff Gamso, legal director of the Ohio ACLU.
"What (lawmakers) didnt mean is that the police could actually engage in identy theft," Gamso said. "Anybody who gave it a moments thought would know that they didnt mean that.
"And thats exactly what they did (to Haley Dawson), and if theyre doing that, its an outrage. What a gross invasion of privacy by the government."
The state agency that oversees the liquor-control agents who gave Haley Dawsons drivers license to the Troy police now is investigating the situation, which they became aware of Thursday from The Dispatch.
"There is not a policy from our division that says that we have the latitude" to pose as a real person, said Richard Cologie, assistant agent in charge with the Ohio Investigative Units central office. The unit is a part of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
It is unclear how liquor-control agents sworn law-enforcement officers who investigate illegal drinking activity obtained Haley Dawsons license, Cologie said. Although these agents work to enforce Ohios liquor laws, they are separate from the Department of Commerces Division of Liquor Control, which licenses businesses that sell alcohol.
Haley Dawson, 26, could not be reached. Her father said she now lives in Cincinnati and did not want to comment for this story.
Szuhay, reached at her home in the Cleveland suburb of North Olmsted, also declined to comment.
Miami County Prosecutor Nasal acknowledged Dawson could have suffered tax or other problems because her identity was used.
He called it a "screw-up," but he made no apologies for the lengths that he, police and liquor-control agents went to in shutting down Total Xposure, long a thorn in the side of officials in Troy, a 22,000-resident city north of Dayton.
The strip joint billed itself as a private club where patrons brought their own alcohol and paid a fee to have it served to them. Ohio doesnt allow clubs to sell alcohol if dancers strip naked.
Police thought Total Xposure was linked to drug trafficking and prostitution charges which the investigation could not prove, Nasal acknowledged.
The only allegations that stuck were two misdemeanor charges of furnishing alcohol without a permit, which resulted in a $200 fine, and a civil-nuisance charge that shut the club for one year and led to the confiscation of its property.
In order to avoid further charges, the club owners agreed to pay $15,000 to the city and state and leave Miami County Nasals goal from the start. That put the entire case to rest at the end of 2003.
"I dont apologize for the investigation and the conduct," Nasal said. "The result speaks for itself."
Nasal said its easy to look back now and assume he could have achieved the same result without the assistance of an undercover stripper.
"This kind of thing is the type of thing that you only get one shot at," Nasal said. "So you had better do your investigation right from the start."
However, the Troy police said Szuhay almost cost them the investigation when she befriended club employees and began hanging out with them after hours using Haley Dawsons drivers license to be served at bars.
Szuhay was charged by Troy police with perjury and obstructing justice in the case, but the charges were dismissed.
The perjury charge related to an accusation that she lied during her testimony by saying she wasnt wearing a wig; she was. The obstruction charge stemmed from her associating with club employees during the investigation, said Capt. Chuck Adams, of the Troy Police Department.
She stripped at Total Xposure from February to May 2003 always under the watchful eyes of liquor-control agents and private investigators in the audience.
Troy police officers, including Adams, watched her strip from the police station using an Internet subscription to the club that they had purchased under the name of a dead man, Adams said.
Police think that also was legal, he said.
Liquor-control agents were sent into the club to purchase private "girl-on-girl" dances; some officials thought those dances were illegal, according to a deposition by Diane Corey, the Dayton-based boss of the agents involved.
The life that Szuhay, now 24, assumed as "Haley Dawson" was very different from the one she portrays of her real self on the University of Daytons Web site.
There, she posted a video of herself describing how much she was learning during an unpaid internship for the U.S. Marshals Service. She also posted photos of her paid security internship with the NASA Glenn Research Center near Cleveland.
Szuhay had aspirations of becoming a police officer, Adams said.
She had worked undercover and even stripped before, he said, but he thinks that she started having second thoughts about this mission especially as its conclusion and a very public trial neared.
"Watching her dance was quite different than the other girls," Adams said. "She was doing some things I think she was ashamed of. . . . I think it was more about what she thought her family would think, and her dad in particular.
"We told her it would almost be a miracle that people would not learn her true identity."
Adams said police were unaware until this week that Szuhays obstruction of justice charge had been dismissed apparently because a police officer failed to show up at a hearing. Troy police and Nasal plan to refile it, Adams said.
"There were numerous meetings police department, myself and her where it was explained that the only thing that we wanted her to do was go in, observe and tell us the truth," Nasal said. "I guess the bottom line is we found her difficult to handle."
Szuhay "may have been of tender years," but Nasal has no sympathy for her, he said.
"She sold herself to us as a very serious, confidential informant."
Ohio Department of Liquor Control needs to be looked at big time.
"as liquor-control officers drank beer and watched in the audience for three months, court papers show."
Oh yeah, this sounds like a legit op.
Actually working with no cover.
Remember. We're from the government and we're here to help.
How do I become a liquor-control officer? Sounds like fun. Get paid to drink beer and stare at naked women.
Not only that, you get to convince women that being naked is a civic duty!
I'm just wondering how that stint will look on her resume.
It isn't that hard to convince some women that getting naked is art... how hard can it be to convince them that getting naked is for the good of society.
Undercover law enforcement work, worked as a operative to gain access to a potential drug running group.
It won't say what she did exactley (she may just say she worked as an employee) and she'll probably use it to boost her self when she wants a job as a DA's office.
We set a record for seatbelt violations and speeding tickets in the last year though, on the up side.
If alll this is ok, than why didn't the cops use one of their daughter's id's? I'm sure someone at the department has a family member of the correct age.
She won't need an elaborate resume. One of the agents working with her will be promoted to management and lean on the HR type doing the hiring. In a perverse sort of nepotism, she'll get hired on by the Ohio rev'nooers, a position she will use as a stepping stone toward her ultimate career as a Fed.
Dawsons father, David Dawson
He is the brother of Mike Dawson, the chief policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine. <<<<
Things like this are just the start.
Wait tell we have the new ID law.
"However, the Troy police said Szuhay almost cost them the investigation when she befriended club employees and began hanging out with them after hours using Haley Dawsons drivers license to be served at bars."
"...he thinks that she started having second thoughts about this mission especially as its conclusion and a very public trial neared. "
"Watching her dance was quite different than the other girls," Adams said. "She was doing some things I think she was ashamed of. . . . I think it was more about what she thought her family would think, and her dad in particular."
"...Szuhay "may have been of tender years," but Nasal has no sympathy for her, he said."
The liquor police corrupted a very young college woman. I know she agreed to do it, at age 22, but these liquor jerks provided the resources, and she became caught up in the evil around her. Did not anyone stop to think what this was doing to her personally? And these liquor policemen watched her perform. These liquor police bastards are a bunch of sick men.
And 'Miami County Prosecutor Nasal', there are no words to describe him and his comments.
What next, paying young college students to shoot up on drugs to try to apprehend drug pushers?
Anything for a bust huh?
"Is this some kind of bust?" - Police Squad 2 1/2
This is the young "lady" who is the topic of the article.
Here she is on video.
Why do I think that this is the rule rather than the exception?
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