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YOUNGSTOWN Cop loses job over report discrepancies



Published: Wed, August 1, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The man arrested spent three months in jail. He has since sued the former cop.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Patrolman Jeffrey Lewis happened to be at his bar after a break-in and made an arrest -- but he lost his job after internal affairs concluded he falsified the report.

Lewis, 30, and an eight-year veteran, neglected to mention in the report that, while on duty, he met his insurance agent at the bar he owned, Shenanigan's Irish Pub, 1666 Poland Ave.

What happened: Lewis said in the report that he was on routine patrol in an unmarked cruiser and discovered the break-in while doing a security check of the building Jan. 4, 2000.

Lewis reported seeing a man in a turquoise jacket leave the building and get on a red bicycle. The officer caught and arrested the suspect, John R. Tesyk Jr., 40, of East Parkcliff Drive, Struthers.

Two patrolmen arrived to assist Lewis. Inside the tavern, officers found the cash register smashed and its drawer on the floor, and broken glasses and liquor bottles.

In the kitchen, they found a hole in the cement block and drywall damage. A refrigerator had been pushed out of the way to gain entry through the wall and a sledgehammer was found nearby.

Police saw muddy footprints on the carpet that matched the soles of the boots Tesyk had on, reports show. Tesyk, who police said had mud on his hands, denied any involvement.

When Lewis patted down Tesyk, he found a crack pipe, two screwdrivers, two needle-nose pliers, vice grips and another set of pliers.

A Mahoning County grand jury indicted Tesyk and charged him with breaking and entering.

Prosecutor: Just before trial, Patrick Pochiro, an assistant county prosecutor, discovered that the insurance agent had been at the scene but his name was not listed on any reports as a witness.

Pochiro, after interviewing the agent, concluded major discrepancies existed between the agent's and Lewis' version of events.

Pochiro decided the discrepancies made the case impossible to prosecute and arranged to have the charges dropped.

Released: Tesyk, who had been unable to make bond, was released from the county jail March 29, 2000, roughly three months after his arrest, says an internal affairs report.

Tesyk's lawyer, Walter D. Ritchie, filed a lawsuit Jan. 3 this year in common pleas court, charging civil rights violations, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and abuse of process. Ritchie has asked for $1 million in damages, cost of the lawsuit and attorney fees.

The complaint names Jeffrey Lewis, Lt. Mark Milstead, Police Chief Richard Lewis and Mayor George M. McKelvey. The case is set for trial March 25, 2002.

Fired: A complaint about the arrest wasn't filed with internal affairs until Jan. 25, more than a year after Tesyk's arrest. The investigation concluded in late June and Jeffrey Lewis was notified by letter July 20 that he had been fired.

The internal affairs investigation showed that Jeffrey Lewis withheld important information from the prosecutor's office and knowingly entered false or inaccurate information on the reports, a violation of departmental rules.

Lewis' most recent assignment was the juvenile division. He can appeal the firing.

The police chief was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached to comment.

meade@vindy.com




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