ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Barry Carpenter began 2009 as the police chief of Martins Ferry. He ends 2009 as a convicted felon.
A Belmont County jury in November found Carpenter, 40, guilty of felony charges of theft in office and receiving stolen property. The charges stemmed from a celebrity scandal that involved the surrogate mother for the children of Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.
The surrogate, Michelle Ross, was living in Martins Ferry at the time of her pregnancy. Carpenter and Bridgeport Police Chief Chad Dojack allegedly conspired to steal and then sell items that identified Ross as the woman carrying the children of those Hollywood stars.
Carpenter also was found guilty on a misdemeanor count of tampering with evidence. Jurors returned not guilty verdicts on two counts of burglary and one count of unauthorized use of property or services.
Carpenter will be sentenced on Wednesday, Dec. 30, by Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Solovan. He faces up to six years in prison.
Dojack, 30, faces two counts of complicity to burglary and one count of complicity to receive stolen property. He faces a prison term of 9 1/2 years. His trial is set for Jan. 12.
And in the midst of what became known as "The Surrogate Scandal," Ohio County Chief Deputy Drage Flick found himself as head of security for Parker and Broderick during the birth of their twin daughters at East Ohio Regional Hospital.
Carpenter officially vacated his post as police chief Dec. 18 in a letter of resignation to City Mayor Phil Wallace. His legal troubles began in May when he and Dojack met with a celebrity photographer at a Lansing hotel. The photographer was attempting to locate Ross or procure items from her residence that would identify her as the surrogate for Parker and Broderick.
Testimony during Carpenter's trial revealed that he entered the Ross home the same day he met with the celebrity photographer and took various items pertaining to the pregnancy including photos that he later deleted from his cell phone.
It also was alleged that he attempted to sell those photos and items to the photographer.
Carpenter testified that he went into the Ross home on Colerain Pike because he saw a door open. He said he took photos of a surrogacy file that contained two ultrasound pictures and of a plaster cast of a pregnant stomach but did not take anything from the home. He said he showed the photo of the cast to the photographer and to several other people but said he never discussed selling items from the home to the photographer.
Dojack's role stems from him allegedly being an accomplice to Carpenter. The charges against him state that his father-in-law, Bruce Callarik, arranged the meeting between the police chiefs and the photographer. Callarik initially was charged with complicity to receive stolen property but the charge was later dropped.
Special Prosecutor T. Shawn Hervey has indicated that the prosecution and the defense are negotiating an agreement in the Dojack case, but he did not use the term "plea deal."
"We're looking to work toward a resolution before trial," Hervey said. "We did the same thing with Carpenter, but when there is not an amicable resolution we're not afraid to try a case."
Ohio County Chief Deputy Drage Flick also played a role, as he was asked in June to perform what he termed as a dream detail as the celebrity scandal unfolded. He agreed to head security for Parker and Broderick at East Ohio Regional Hospital as their children were born.
Over the course of four days, Flick and four Ohio County sheriff's deputies provided "close personal protection and site security" for the Hollywood couple, their families and assistants while Ross gave birth to the twin daughters.
Flick said it was their duty to shuttle the family back and forth from the hospital to their room at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, and to make sure it was safe for them at the hospital. He said the assignment came with two priorities. Flick said he and his deputies were successful in both efforts.
"Our No. 1 priority was the safety of the children and the clients, and the second priority was to prevent photographs of the children," Flick said. "As far as we know, nothing has surfaced. We don't believe we put anyone in a position where a picture was taken."
Flick said he picked deputies Matt Moore, Nelson Croft, Alex Espejo and Kent Lewis for the security work. He said all of them had to take either vacation or personal leave from the department to sign on for the work.
He said a confidentiality clause prevents him from saying how much they made for their efforts, but he did say officers typically get a minimum of $25 per hour for such work.
Flick said he did not tell those deputies what the work involved when he asked them to sign on. He said they volunteered without question. Flick said, because the children were born two weeks earlier than expected, he didn't get the chance to tell the deputies who they were protecting until they arrived at the hospital for the security detail.
"I said, 'we have an event coming up, and I need you to be available 24 hours a day - can you do it?"" Flick said. "They signed on with blind faith - just my word. ... Once we got the word, they still didn't know what they were doing. I said 'you have to be here now.' They didn't say much, they were surprised - stunned."
Flick said he spent time with both Parker and Broderick. He drove Broderick from the hospital to the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport so the actor could fly back to New York to appear in a Broadway production. Flick said he enjoyed his time with both of them.
Flick said Broderick is a quiet man. He said Parker would stay at the hospital late into the night and return very early the following morning. Flick had nothing but kind words for the actress.
"She is absolutely lovely, a great person - very personable," He said. "She carried on conversations with people like she was their personal friend. He is quite, but a very nice person. Lovely people - just great. Their whole family, all of the staff and personal assistants - they were great people."