Ron's Priorities

Combating Opiate & Heroin Addiction 

Ron O’Brien spearheaded the creation of Franklin County’s first Drug Court – an effort that continues to get addicts the treatment they need instead of simply sending them to prison. This initiative is but one example of O’Brien’s proactive approach in working with law enforcement and the courts to address and combat the statewide heroin epidemic.

  • Ron teamed with Judge Scott VanderKarr to establish Franklin County’s Drug Court, and then worked to increase the scope of the court from opiate pills to heroin addiction. The goal is to treat drug-dependent persons rather than jail them.
  • Ron's drug unit successfully prosecuted a multi-state oxycodone pill distribution ring by using the organized crime RICO law.
  • Ron teamed with the Franklin County Sheriff in the H.O.P.E. (Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education) Task Force to assist overdose survivors, and to follow-up with identification of heroin traffickers to hold them responsible for overdose deaths when they furnished the fatal dose.
  • Ron maintains a specialized Drug Unit within his office to prosecute drug cases.
  • Ron teamed with former Governor Kasich and Governor DeWine to attack and shut down “pill mills.” He regularly speaks at forums countywide to alert parents and residents to the dangers of opiate pills and heroin.
  • Ron has seen to it that money seized from drug traffickers was used to support the Drug Court, and to develop anti-drug education programs for our schools.

Prosecuting Corruption

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien believes that those in public service who violate that sacred trust through corruption in public office must be held responsible. Ron has aggressively pursued corruption and ethics violations, regardless of politics, and has successfully prosecuted politicians from both political parties. Ron has not permitted the office to be used for politically-inspired investigations or witch-hunts.

  • Ron prosecuted a sitting Republican Governor for violations of the Ohio ethics laws.
  • Ron prosecuted a sitting Democrat Attorney General for Ohio ethics law violations.
  • In a joint effort with the FBI, Ron prosecuted the first bribery case in 100 years against a member of the Ohio General Assembly -- a legislator from Columbus -- who was convicted and sentenced to prison.
  • Ron teamed with the FBI to prosecute a Dayton area member of the Ohio House of Representatives for theft, election falsification, money laundering, and an ethics violation resulting in an Ohio prison sentence.
  • Ron has prosecuted public officials and cabinet members of both political parties for commission of crimes in office.
  • Ron has prosecuted registered lobbyists for non-compliance with Ohio’s lobbying laws.
  • Ron prosecuted the Republican Clerk of Courts in Franklin County for theft of fine money from traffic violations resulting in a lengthy prison sentence and recovery of more than $500,000 in restitution.
  • Ron prosecuted a Republican state representative and a Democratic state senator for scalping OSU football tickets bought by their campaign committees.
  • Ron has served as a special prosecutor in other Ohio counties in ethics or corruption cases involving a county commissioner, county treasurer, and a state representative.
  • Ron prosecuted the former Columbus schools superintendent, the data czar, an assistant principal, and regional executive director for data manipulation of attendance and grades in state reports.

Implementing Criminal Justice Reform 

Ron O’Brien has been a statewide leader in addressing criminal justice issues, and has worked closely with the Ohio Innocence Project to use DNA evidence to exonerate wrongly convicted individuals and free them from prison. “He acts like somebody who’s interested in justice, not just winning cases,” says Mark Godsey, Director of the Ohio Innocence Project.

  • Ron was appointed by the President of the Ohio Senate to serve on the Ohio Criminal Code Recodification Committee, which is rewriting and updating the entire Ohio criminal code and addressing mandatory sentences, prison population, together with community alternatives to incarceration.
  • Ron is a member of the committee working with the Council of State Governments to reduce the number of inmates in the county jail who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled.
  • Working across party lines, Ron proposed legislation that would charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with misdemeanors as opposed to felonies and that would also allow a broader expungement of the convictions of those crimes. Ron recognizes that creating a rehabilitative atmosphere for those whose crimes are related to mental health and addiction issues can create a better chance for success than jail time. 
  • Ron served by appointment of the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on the Task Force on the Administration of the Death Penalty in Ohio, which resulted in a series of recommendations to assure fairness in capital cases.
  • Ron served on the Governor’s Study Group on Alcohol Impaired Driving that resulted in a new approach to drunk driving cases.
  • Ron was appointed by former Governor Kasich as a member of the Task Force, and later the Collaborative, on Improving Police-Community Relations. He attended hearings across the state taking testimony and helped establish for the first time state standards on the use of deadly force by law enforcement.
  • Ron served by appointment of the county commissioners on the Criminal Justice and Community Corrections Planning Boards that set local funding and policy goals.
  • Ron was chair of the Truancy Initiative to reduce school absences in cooperation with BREAD and the Educational Service Center.
  • Ron's office participates with Juvenile Court and the Ohio Department of Youth Services on the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) designed to find community options to confinement of juvenile offenders.

Eliminating Human Trafficking

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien believes that enslavement of an individual to force prostitution or for any other purpose is reprehensible and must be stopped. Ron works vigorously both to prosecute these crimes and to make certain the survivors of this exploitation receive the help they need.

  • Ron is a member of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.
  • A member of Ron’s office received the Model of Justice award from the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center for a Human Trafficking prosecution and conviction with a ten-year sentence of offenders from a joint task force prosecution with Delaware County.
  • Ron contributed drug forfeiture funds to help fund the CATCH Court operated by Municipal Judge Paul Herbert to help human trafficking victims and survivors.

Fighting Terrorism

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien is a key local leader in the fight against terrorism. He is dedicated to keeping the people of Franklin County safe through constant vigilance and aggressive prosecution.

  • Ron is a member of the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force for the Southern District of Ohio.
  • Ron was first to charge the Columbus Terrorist Abdirahman S. Mohamud obtaining a $1 million bond. Prosecutor O’Brien detained Mohamud until he could be turned over to the FBI and Justice Department.  Ron's office was then named a member of the trial team for the federal prosecution of Mohamud.
  • Ron worked with the FBI on prosecuting cases of both people and prisoners mailing threats and powdered substances to government officials, judges and the media. 

Committed to the Integrity of Convictions

Ron views the purpose of the office to protect the residents of Franklin County and to ensure justice for all, and recognizes that neither of those interests is served if someone is wrongfully convicted. For over 10 years, Ron has devoted attorneys to investigate claims of wrongful convictions, and has worked with organizations such as the Ohio Innocence Project to thoroughly investigate such claims. Indeed, Ron’s work with the Ohio Innocence Project led to Director Mark Godsey to call Ron “the most progressive prosecutor in Ohio”.