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Rape, menacing charges filed against former sheriff's deputy

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - A former Mahoning County Sheriff's deputy is behind bars for what investigators say was a plot to harm the county sheriff and his employees.

The alleged plan was uncovered by a SWAT team, which searched 57-year-old Richard Rowe's house after his step-daughter came to the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office with information that some employees there were potentially in danger.

"She had information and felt that he was going to do something in terms of showing up, possibly shooting us or acting out in a violent manner," Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said.

Rowe worked for the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department for 17 years, but he was fired in 2014 after the department says he violated six rules.

"A lot of it were issues of temper, falling asleep at work, coming late, but it was just a multitude of things," Greene said.

Rowe reportedly filed a lawsuit against the department for discrimination due to a disability.

Investigators said a December 30 search of Rowe's Piccadilly Street home in Campbell uncovered a number of handguns, a shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, as well as cell phone recordings and writings in which they say Rowe detailed his threats.

He now faces domestic violence, rape, retaliation and aggravated menacing charges.

Greene said the domestic violence and rape charges stem from an earlier incident involving Rowe's wife. She told police that Rowe struck her with a club and physically and verbally abused her, according to a police report.

Investigators were able to obtain an order from Probate Court committing Rowe to a mental facility in Stark County for evaluation. He was released Thursday morning and taken back into custody. For now, he remains in Trumbull County Jail.

Greene credits Rowe's step-daughter for coming forward and telling what she knew, so authorities were able to move quickly.

"You get threatened by people, it happens, and some you may take serious, or more serious than others. This one was unsettling," he said.

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