31 March 2014

The FBI and the state Inspector General’s office are investigating mineral rights lease flipping and falsification of public records in Noble County. Environmentalists claim this is a precursor to massive fracking planned in the rural Ohio area.


One family affected by this are the Bonds. They charge that state officials are harassing them and covering up the theft of gas and mineral leases at the behest of Ohio Governor John Kasich and his quest unleash the forces of fracking on rural Ohio.


The investigation focuses on Form 7, a public record that is filed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to identify who actually owns the mineral rights under the surface land. Each Form 7 is supposed to be accompanied by a mineral lease recorded at the County Recorder’s office.


In the Muskingum water conservancy area there are massive discrepancies between the Form 7s filed with the ODNR and the County Recorder’s records.
Greg Pace, an environmental activist confirmed to the Free Press that at least one of the Form 7s appears to be fraudulent with a tampered notarized signature. “The fraudulent document has three different dates on it,” Pace commented.


The story begins with a November 10, 2011 call from Jeff and Kerri Bond to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) complaining that a brine tank owned by Jeff Miley, of Miley Gas Company, was leaking. ODNR inspector David Ball showed up and expressed little interest in the leaking Miley Gas tank. Instead, he insisted on inspecting the Bond’s gas well, which they use to heat their home. According to the Bonds, Ball told them “We’ll probably have to plug your well.”


Pace found it curious that the local inspector was “not focusing on contamination problems and didn’t want to pay a lot of attention to Miley Gas.”
After the Bonds began to complain about Miley, brine from a tank began to leak into a pond on their property, creating a dead zone within the pond.

Dissatisfied with the ODNR, the Bonds turned to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The OPEA never showed up. Instead, ODNR inspector Ball reappeared with more ODNR employees, Gene Chini and Tom Tugend, then-Deputy Chief of Oil and Gas at the state agency. According to the Bonds, Ball then told them if they didn’t shut up they would be written up for violations.


Suddenly, the Bonds were written up for an oil and gas well on their property that had been abandoned 35 years earlier. They claimed Ball trespassed on their property without their knowledge or permission and found and tagged the abandoned well.


The Bonds allege that another ODNR inspector Cindy Van Dyne also inspected their property and told them to “keep it quiet” about the leaking brine, or they would be written up. The Bonds claim Van Dyne told them not to make any problems because “Governor Kasich doesn’t want us to make waves so we really aren’t going by the rules right now.”


On December 22, 2011, the Bonds mailed Miley a certified letter telling him to stay off their property. A copy of the letter was also sent to Tugend at the ODNR. Soon after, inspector Ball re-entered the Bond’s 176-acre farm and cited them for having a 2 foot pipe coming out of the ground without any identification. When the Bonds called Tugend to complain about the latest violation charge from Ball, they allege that Tugend told them “You don’t know how big business works, Mr. Miley is using a guess-tometer and a gentleman’s agreement.” Then the Bonds claim Tugend laughed.


A week after the Bonds mailed the certified letter, the Bonds were ordered by a state inspector to plug within 60 days 12 wells on their property that they had been unaware of. The Bonds next learned that Miley was alleged selling gas to Gatherco without any meters recording the amount. Miley purportedly purchased old gas wells for scrap from the ODNR, but then began to pump gas from them.


In investigating these allegations, the Bonds found out that Miley owned 1200 gas wells, but none had tax I.D. numbers, that all of them had been filed with the County Recorder in August 2011.


The Bonds decided to retain an attorney and began to wonder about the relationship between Miley and Tugend.


On March 6, 2013, Kerri Bond met with the Ohio Inspector General and filed a formal complaint. The complaint alleged that Tugend allowed Miley “…to turn in 16 years of false production records on wells he doesn’t have any rights to.” The complaint went on to state, that there are “no meters on any wells – no Form 7s – no tax I.D. numbers!”


They also checked the box requesting “confidentiality,”

noting they did so “due to fear of retaliation – which is already happening.”
The Free Press has also learned that Kerri contacted the FBI local office in Cambridge and filed a complaint as well.



The Bonds are also alleging that the Form 7s, used in legitimate transfer of deed for mineral rights, are being falsified in their area. This is at the crux of their complaint to both the state Inspector General and the FBI.