Ben Bultman resigned in September 2012 as the Fairfield Twp. assistant fire chief after admitting he hacked into confidential township records and shared the information with the former fire chief.
Now a Middletown firefighter, Bultman is running for trustee in Fairfield Twp., a growing community he’s lived in for 23 years.
Although Bultman elected to resign, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser told the Journal-News there wasn’t enough evidence for an indictment on criminal charges.
“I remember we had quite a discussion about it,” Gmoser said. “It rose to a level of politics. It didn’t rise to the level of a criminal act that needed the attention of my office at the time.”
The prosecutor’s office did not pursue charges after three entities — the township, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation — conducted investigations into Bultman’s actions.
According to township records, Bultman — who worked in an unofficial capacity as the township’s IT network administrator — allegedly reviewed several confidential emails and specifically searched for emails marked “highly confidential” and addressed to then-township administrator Mike Rahall and then-township solicitor Jack Grove.
Among the documents was a psychiatric evaluation of former Fire Chief David Downie, which Bultman gave to Downie before he was fired.
In his letter of resignation, Bultman, who had been an employee of the township for 16 years and was named Assistant Fire Chief in 2011, admitted wrongdoing and apologized for his actions.
“I apologize for any problems that I may have caused due to my unauthorized access into confidential information. I will not ever distribute any of the classified information nor will I ever discuss anything that was disclosed during any of the investigations, or during my time with the Fairfield Twp. fire department,” Bultman wrote.
But in a recent interview with the Journal-News, Bultman maintained he was doing work required as a network administrator.
“Part of the administrating system, I had to go and reset parts of the system over time,” he said, explaining a spam filter would “go down” and it had to be reset every night.
Every network administrator, he said, would see documents not intended to be viewed.
Bultman said he did not fight the accusations because he “just witnessed what happened to someone” that fought back after the charges finally levied “didn’t warrant firing,” referring to Downie.
Downie was found at fault on five charges related to the comments made to township emoloyees, as well as allegations he failed to attend a mandatory meeting and failed to properly supervise staff.
“So I knew it didn’t matter,” said Bultman.“I agreed that I probably could have performed another method of the problems that we had,” he said.
Four candidates, including two incumbents, are seeking the two open trustee seats in Fairfield Twp.