Edward Williams stood in a crowded courtroom hallway. His eyes welled with tears.
Moments earlier his daughter, Kelley Williams-Bolar, had been dispatched to jail, convicted of falsifying records in the Copley-Fairlawn school residency case.
''This is all about me,'' Williams, 64, said.
His remark echoed sentiments he expressed in a three-page faxed statement to the Akron Beacon Journal before his daughter's trial began.
In that statement, Williams said Summit County prosecutors and Copley-Fairlawn school officials went after his daughter — in what he called an ''unholy alliance'' — because of something he did.
''I have had problems with these people for 15 years,'' Williams wrote.
In the month since the sentence was handed down, the newspaper reviewed hundreds of pages of state and federal court records to determine whether there is any basis for Williams' claim that the case against his daughter really is about him.
Summit County court records do show that Williams and local authorities have been butting heads for at least 15 years.
In a civil case filed in Common Pleas Court in January 2006, the county fiscal office began a foreclosure action on Williams' property on Black Pond Drive in Copley Township over alleged real estate tax problems.
The tax problems had been festering for some time.
''No one who owns or claims ownership of this property has paid real estate taxes on it for over 10 years,'' the county's attorney said in a pretrial brief.
It was written and co-signed by Summit County Assistant Prosecutor James A. Rudgers, who represented the fiscal office in the court action.
Above his name, Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh gave authorization to the action with her name on the brief.
Williams-Bolar's two felony convictions, for falsifying or ''tampering'' with records as the indictment alleged, involved her claims that she lived with her father within the district at his residence.
The pretrial brief by Rudgers went on to say that Williams claimed he did not owe real estate taxes on his property because he had a tax exemption.
Williams explained his position in his statement to the Beacon Journal, saying he had obtained federal tax-exempt status for his home as a nonprofit corporation.
''This all started,'' Williams told the newspaper, ''[when] my 501c3 application was denied by her [Walsh's] office.''
Williams attempted to support his contention that he had tax-exempt status with Internal Revenue Service documents dated February 1992, as well as Ohio Secretary of State certificates dated May 2000.
Those documents purported that his Black Pond property was incorporated as the ''Elizabeth Williams Group Home,'' with him as the corporate president.
The purpose of the group home, Williams stated, was for the ''care and housing of neglected, delinquent and abused children, adult care and elderly care.''
He was doing it, he informed the state in February 2005, ''to provide affordable housing to low- to moderate-income persons and elderly.''
It is unclear from court records whether any such residents used the home.
Williams declined to answer questions beyond his written statement to the newspaper.
The IRS provides for tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) classification for religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary and public safety testing groups; to foster national or international amateur sports competition; or for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals organizations.
It is unclear from state and court records whether Williams obtained valid tax-exempt status.
Rudgers and the county fiscal office strongly refuted that the Elizabeth Williams Group Home was any such organization.
''These claims or defenses are all false or erroneous,'' Rudgers wrote in his brief.
''Neither Elizabeth Williams Group Home Inc., nor Edward Williams, has ever obtained a real estate tax exemption from the State of Ohio,'' Rudgers concluded.
Williams fought back, filing numerous counterclaims against the county.
The claims were filed by Williams in various ''pro se'' motions or by the three lawyers who defended his case into 2008.
Finally, on March 12, 2008, Common Pleas Judge Thomas A. Teodosio ruled in favor of the county in a summary judgment for foreclosure over the unpaid real estate taxes, assessments and penalties. Two days later, he issued an order for a sheriff's sale of the property.
The court battle was not over, however.
Three weeks later, Williams filed court papers claiming ''malicious prosecution and collusion,'' the latter claim involving Rudgers and Teodosio.
''I retained two lawyers to defend my corporate interest and both were allowed to withdraw without my knowledge, leaving me without representation,'' Williams charged.
Rudgers and the judge, he wrote, had taken him down ''a clear path to my destruction.''
One month later, Williams filed another court motion for a stay on the sale of his property. He informed the court he had filed appeals on Teodosio's ruling and in the Ohio Supreme Court on claims of fraud and violations of his constitutional rights.
Both appeals were fruitless.
In June 2009, the options for pressing those claims in state court proceedings ended when the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear Williams' case.
He and his daughter were indicted five months later on multiple felony counts in the Copley-Fairlawn school case.
The November 2009 indictment came 17 months after Williams-Bolar's children had left the district's schools for good.
Williams also was indicted for grand theft and tampering with records for unrelated charges in connection with allegations of fraud to obtain financial assistance and benefits from county and state public service agencies.
He is scheduled for trial on those charges in April.
$70,000 IN TAXES PAID
The foreclosure and sale order on Williams' property never took place.
He testified at his daughter's trial that he paid more than $70,000 in taxes for the nearly 20 years he has lived within the district.
''And my grandchildren are going to have to pay to go to school there?'' Williams said, posing a rhetorical question for the jury.
Records in the county fiscal office verify Williams ended the foreclosure and sale orders with two large payments.
Kristen Scalise, the county's chief deputy fiscal officer, said the Black Pond Drive property was redeemed by the homeowner April 3, 2008.
One payment of $48,603.81 paid off a lien held on the property by American Tax Funding, and a second payment of $12,271.17 was for the real estate taxes owed from the start of the foreclosure action, Scalise said.
The case was dismissed in May 2008, she said, and there are no other outstanding tax issues with the property.
''We're paid in full through this half, so we're happy,'' Scalise said.
Williams is anything but.
In his statement to the Beacon Journal, he said his daughter was being ''used as a pawn'' and that the prosecutor's office was using its position ''to hold a personal vendetta against me'' and violate the law of the land prohibiting debtors' prison.
Last December, Williams also named Walsh and Copley-Fairlawn school officials in a federal notice of appeal, charging unspecified civil rights violations, with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
On Feb. 9, the court tossed out the appeal because Williams failed to pay the required $455 filing fee.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.