Sharonville fire chief embroiled in prostitution case resigns

Posted at 4:33 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 09:55:29-04

SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- Sharonville's fire chief, on leave amid an allegation he paid a woman for sex, resigned when the city council approved an agreement with him Tuesday night.

Mayor Kevin Hardman said in mid-August that Fire Chief Ralph Hammonds was on leave pending an investigation of possible improper conduct, but wouldn't detail the allegations against the 26-year department veteran.

"When I received the information, I was shocked," Hardman said then. "It's not what I would expect from the person that I know."

Hammonds will continue to work as a consultant to the city, earning minimum wage, for 30 months. He's also forfeiting the leave time he's accrued, as well as his pension benefits during that 30-month period, which will be used to pay his consultant salary.

Hardman said he believed Hammonds was "ashamed" of what he'd done. 

"He cares about this community. He made a mistake, and I think I accept him at that, but it is a mistake that proved fatal," Hardman said.

An attorney for Hammonds released a statement saying that Hammonds "is honored to have served Sharonville's citizens for many years and deeply regrets any negative impact his actions may have had on the city and its employees. He looks forward to serving as fire consultant."

According to a Reading police report, officers responding to complaints of prostitution found Hammonds, and he admitted to police that he paid $60 to a woman for sex after contacting her on a classified ads website.


Police told Hammonds to have no further contact with the woman or he would be charged, according to the police report.

Police said there were several men who admitted to officers that they had paid for sex there. Police said they used the men as part of their investigation to get probable cause and they do usually do not charge solicitors in order to avoid tipping off the prostitute.

Three days later, plainclothes police returned and arrested one woman on prostitution charges and another on drug abuse charges.

A private investigator was looking into the allegations against Hammonds, Hardman said last month.

"The allegations were such that it was a lot concern for us as a city to have Chief Hammonds continue in a leadership role as our fire department, to be a face of the city of Sharonville, which I think he has been in that role, so that couldn’t continue in that realm,” Hardman said Tuesday.

Assistant Chief John Mackey has been leading the department in the meantime and will continue as interim fire chief until a new chief is hired.