PERMIT VIOLATION Ex-councilman to go to trial
The case will be heard by the municipal court magistrate.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Rev. Charles Ellis, whose time as a 2nd Ward councilman wasn't without controversy, held a "Freak-Me Friday" public dance without a permit, vice cops say.
After complaints about a sexually suggestive flier that appeared on utility poles in late May, vice squad Patrolmen Paul Brown and Michael Brindisi checked out the event at Buckeye Elks Lodge 73, 421 North Avenue.
The flier for the downtown dance announced "huge cash prizes for XXX-Contest Winners" and "live performances" and featured a bare-chested man and two scantily clad women, one of whom is pictured touching herself in a sexually explicit manner. The $9 cover charge made patrons eligible for door prizes.
Lt. William Powell, vice squad commander, said Ellis, who was in charge of the dance, was cited after Brown consulted with the city prosecutor's office. Ellis failed to show when scheduled to appear in municipal court in June and a warrant was issued, Powell said.
Ellis then turned himself in and the warrant was withdrawn, Powell said.
Judge Robert P. Milich arraigned Ellis on June 18 and released him on his own recognizance.
The case has been assigned to Magistrate Anthony J. Sertick and trial is set for Aug. 15. The minor misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of $100, Powell said.
Ellis could not be reached.
Caught: Powell said that when Brown and Brindisi asked the bartender at the event to see the dance permit, they were directed to a back room. The officers found no permit but did see five men playing cards and charged them with public gaming.
Ellis served on council from 1996 to 1999 and then, citing personal reasons, did not run for re-election.
Vindicator files show he ran up cellular phone charges and made cash withdrawals on a city credit card in 1996. In 1998, Ohio Auditor Jim Petro issued a finding for recovery of $898 for improper credit card expenses.
Ellis being hired as a counselor at the then-new private prison on Hubbard Road in 1997 stirred controversy.
Jeffrey Limbian, law director at the time, perceived a conflict of interest because council voted on matters dealing with the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center. Limbian made his concerns known to the Ohio Ethics Commission.