STATE POLICE Lauded trooper promoted, will leave Valley

Trooper Gerald Funelli will oversee the computer-related crimes investigations in area.
SOUTHINGTON -- One of the local experts in Internet-related crime is leaving the area.
Sgt. Richard Baron of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, who for the past 11 years headed the investigative and analysis bureau for that area, has been promoted to oversee the state's computer crime division.
He will oversee all computer-related crimes across the state. He will be looking for computer & quot;geeks and hackers," people who deliberately pirate their way into other people's computer systems and cause problems. Businesses, utilities, communication and financial systems are among those likely to be targeted.
The promotion also means Baron will now be a lieutenant. He begins his new job Monday.
Baron joined the Patrol in April 1987 as a member of the 116th Academy Class and earned his commission the following September.
Transferred to Warren
He was assigned to Ashtabula, then transferred to Warren, where he received the Governor's Award and the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility Investigation Award in 1998 for his work in prosecuting those responsible for the 1993 Lucasville riot. Baron also received the Trooper Recognition Award in 1998 and 2000.
Baron graduated in 1979 from Coca Beach High School in Florida, and later studied criminal justice at Ohio University and Columbus State University.
He resides in Hubbard with his wife, Carol, and has three children: Russell, 22, William, 19, and Jennifer, 18.
As part of his new assignment, Baron will also be the OSHP liaison assigned to the state Analysis and Information Center in Columbus. The AIC is a branch of Homeland Security.
"We will be dealing with any threat against Ohio, anything that concerns the public safety in the state," Baron said.
Partner promoted
Baron's longtime partner, Trooper Gerald Funelli, who will be promoted to sergeant Friday, will take over Baron's former job here.
"I'm going to really, really miss the people I have worked with the last 18 years," Baron said. "I've been working with individuals that I trust with everything. It's going to be tough."
Funelli, a 27-year-veteran of the post, said he will miss his partner.
"We have worked on numerous memorable cases over the years," said Funelli, a native of Farrell, Pa.
Some of the cases involved cyberterrorism in the Valley.
One was a death threat against the governor of Louisiana, and another was an attack on the computer system at Texas A & amp;M University.
Both of those were launched from public computers at Youngstown State University.