YOUNGSTOWN Now man's doggone sorry for extortion bid with pup



The dog's owners were offering a $50 reward.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- It was a dog of a case. The defense attorney said so himself.
Leon Edwards got high, snatched a dog that didn't belong to him, and threatened to kill it if its owners didn't pay him $200.
When Edwards showed up on Valentine's Day to exchange the dog for the cash, police were waiting and collared him.
Friday, Judge Robert Lisotto of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court placed the 49-year-old Elbertus Avenue man on probation for two years for attempted extortion, to which Edwards had pleaded guilty in May.
"He doesn't make any excuses for his conduct. He realizes it was egregious," said Edwards' attorney, Ronald Yarwood. "I hate to say it's a dog case, but that's what it is."
What happened
Yarwood said Edwards found the dog, a 4-month-old Rottweiler, though assistant prosecutor Robert Andrews said it's unclear whether Edwards found the dog or stole it.
Edwards contacted the owners, who were offering a $50 reward, and threatened to kill their dog if they did not pay him four times that much, the lawyers said. He demanded that they meet him at a local lawnmower shop to seal the deal.
Andrews said the owners called police, who went along to their meeting with Edwards. They nabbed Edwards and returned the dog safely to its owners.
Edwards told Judge Lisotto that he had "been on that high thing" from taking drugs.
"I wasn't thinking straight," he said, standing at attention and facing straight ahead. "I shouldn't have been out there doing that stuff."
Stipulation
As a condition of Edwards' probation, Judge Lisotto ordered him to have no contact with the dog owners, who were not in court for sentencing.
If Edwards violates his probation, the judge can impose a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
bjackson@vindy.com

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