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Valley lawyer pleads guilty



Published: Tue, December 12, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state and defense have recommended probation.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- A Franklin County judge has set sentencing for Feb. 6 for a Mahoning Valley lawyer who pleaded guilty Monday to lying to state investigators about alleged sexual misconduct with clients.

Judge Julie M. Lynch of Franklin County Common Pleas Court ordered a presentence investigation into Edward F. Sturgeon's background before she decides a sentence in the case.

Sturgeon, of Boardman, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of perjury in the case, avoiding the criminal trial that was scheduled to begin Monday.

David Zeyen, an assistant Franklin County prosecutor, and defense lawyer Mark Collins jointly recommended to Judge Lynch that she place Sturgeon under "community control" or probation.

Sturgeon faces maximum sentences of up to five years in prison on each count and maximum fines of up to 10,000 on each count.

Sturgeon stood next to his lawyer and answered "Yes, your honor," when asked by Judge Lynch if he voluntarily entered his plea.

Statements to investigators

The criminal case against Sturgeon stems from statements he reportedly gave to state disciplinary counsel investigators Nov. 10, 2004.

Sturgeon has admitted two sex-related acts with clients in his private practice.

At a state disciplinary hearing last year on misconduct allegations, Sturgeon admitted he had sex with one client in March 2003 and exposed himself to another client in June 2003, both at his office in downtown Youngstown.

Sturgeon has denied he wanted a third woman to trade sex for legal fees in March 2004 at her townhouse in Liberty.

During the disciplinary hearing, Sturgeon reportedly admitted that he had not been truthful in some of the answers he gave during a deposition with investigators from the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel.

Prosecutors say Sturgeon was charged in Franklin County because his interview with the disciplinary counsel took place in this county.

The mother of one of Sturgeon's victims said Monday that his guilty plea was the first sign of Sturgeon's taking responsibility.

"The guilty plea, in my mind, is him admitting to what he'd done," the victim's mother said in a phone interview. "This is the first sign that he admitted to doing something wrong."

The Ohio Supreme Court has permanently revoked Sturgeon's law license.




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