Youngstown man caught tailing officers

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


Police are trying to determine why a 46-year-old city man has been tailing officers for several days and allegedly calling some members of the police department at home.

Officer Barry Ervin was working his usual day shift Tuesday when he noticed something that appeared to be a little strange. The officer kept seeing the same maroon Hyundai Elantra at each call for service.

Ervin reports that he was sent to a call in the 2500 block of Belmont Avenue on Tuesday for a bad-check report and then sent to a home on Strausbaugh Avenue and observed the Hyundai drive down a side street not far from the police cruiser.

Ervin was sent to a security check on Roslyn Avenue and noticed the Hyundai, containing a white male with what appeared to be a dashboard mounted camera, following the cruiser. The officer said he intentionally drove past the Roslyn location and circled around to see if the car would still be following the cruiser.

When Ervin arrived at the Roslyn address, there was the Hyundai already parked a short distance from the location of the call for service.

Ervin, assisted by Officer Joseph Wess, stopped the car driver. The driver of the car was identified as James B. Ludt of Midlothian Boulevard.

Officers asked Ludt why he had been following the cruiser for three-consecutive days to which Ludt reportedly said, “Is that against the law?”

Police say Ludt also recounted past run-ins with police and expressed his dislike for law enforcement.

Ludt had no answer as to how he knew what calls for service Ervin would answer and where he would be during his shift. Ludt was released after officers checked his driving status and made sure he had no warrants for his arrest.

Later that evening, Wess was surprised by a phone call at his home.

According to reports, Wess was called to the phone by his son when a man called and asked for Officer Joe Wess. The caller reportedly asked Wess why he had stopped him earlier that day and said he did not understand the reason for the stop. Wess told the man to file a complaint with the department and hung up the phone.

The number from which the man called was Ludt’s Midlothian Boulevard address.

Ludt’s building on Midlothian Boulevard has been used as a billboard to speak out against various public officials since at least 2005.

The building in the past has displayed messages concerning former mayors, police officers, members of council and local businesses.

The city prosecutor’s office has said that Ludt has the First Amendment right to post or spray paint whatever statements he wants on his property. The building was damaged by fire in 2010.