SYCAMORE — An 18-year-old from Marion fooled many when he impersonated a state senator at a Wyandot County school.
Izaha Akins spoke to a government class in December at Mohawk High School in Sycamore. Akins told educators there that he had been appointed state senator after Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, resigned due to health reasons, Wyandot County Sheriff Mike Hetzel said Friday.
The elaborate deception didn’t come to light until January.
The sheriff’s office investigated, and Akins was arrested Feb. 10 at his home in Marion. He is facing one count of telecommunications fraud and one count of impersonation of a peace officer, which includes government officials, said Linda Carr, deputy clerk at the Wyandot County clerk of courts office. Both charges are felonies.
“This is total fraud,” Hetzel said.
Akins declined to comment Friday when contacted by The Courier.
Akins spoke to Henry Stobbs’ 12th-grade American government class at the high school on Dec. 15.
“To my understanding, he did a very good job of the government program he did a presentation on,” Sheriff Hetzel said Friday.
Ken Ratliff, Mohawk School District superintendent, said Akins came in around 1 p.m. that day, met briefly with the principal, took a short tour of the school and then spoke to the class, roughly 25 students, before leaving around 3 p.m. without incident.
“At no point during this process did we feel Mr. Akins was a threat to our students,” Ratliff said Friday.
Akins had called the school before he showed up and explained that he was taking the place of Burke, who was ill. Burke had a January appointment to come to the school, but Akins asked to change the date to December.
Stobbs asked Akins why he hadn’t seen anything about Burke’s illness and resignation in the newspaper. Akins answered that Burke was going to release information to the press later that week.
“Through that conversation, Mr. Stobbs was convinced this was legitimate,” Ratliff said.
Akins presented identification when he arrived at the school, and was accompanied by two “aides” and a driver.
The fact that Akins got into the school under false pretenses shows a “chink in our armor,” Ratliff said.
The school has changed its procedure and now will call the agency or business that visitors say they are representing, to double-check their identity.
Ratliff said the school did call numbers provided by Akins, but now plans to call numbers not provided by the individual in question.
“Student safety is a number one priority to us,” Ratliff said. He said the school has eliminated “vulnerabilities.”
“We’re not going to let people have access to our students under false pretenses,” he said.
The school realized Akins was not who he said he was when Burke showed up in January for his scheduled appointment.
“This is an extremely elaborate scheme and not as simple as walking through the door,” Burke said in a statement Friday. “When I heard about this, the school and I immediately began working with law enforcement.”
Courier reporter Danae King will have more on Saturday.