By Ed Runyan
Pat Layshock, who lost his job as Newton Falls mayor during a recall election in November 2010, has been charged with two misdemeanor ethics violations following an investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission.
The charges pertain to ethics law that prevents a public official from using his position to secure a benefit for himself.
Layshock turned himself in to Newton Falls police on Friday after the village’s law director, A. Joseph Fritz, filed the charges Thursday in Newton Falls Municipal Court. Layshock was later released on a personal recognizance bond, meaning he didn’t have to pay anything.
Layshock will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Feb. 2. Newton Falls Municipal Judge Philip Vigorito has recused himself from the case, and a visiting judge will be appointed. The charges carry a possible jail term of 1 year.
Fritz said he cannot comment on the specific allegations leading to the charge but said the Ethics Commission provided him this week with the legal language it recommended that he use to file the charges.
“I cannot confirm or deny regarding the allegations, only that the charges have been filed,” Fritz said. The Ethics Commission investigated a complaint filed with the agency for about a year, Fritz said.
Julie Korte, interim chief investigative attorney with the Ohio Ethics Commission, referred questions about the matter to Fritz. Layshock did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Layshock, 54, of Paige Court, was charged with a felony in Newton Falls Municipal Court in 2010, but a Trumbull County grand jury later refused to indict him. The charge related to an incident that occurred in the village’s downtown area in which Layshock, then mayor, was accused of blocking an ambulance from getting through an intersection.
During testimony, Layshock said the charge was politically motivated.
Layshock was part of a legal conflict in 2009 after he resigned as mayor July 6, 2009, but rescinded the resignation two days later.
Late that year, a ruling from the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals said Layshock should have been allowed to rescind the resignation, and Layshock was restored as mayor.
Lyle Waddell, who was elected to replace Layshock during the recall election, said he has “heard rumors” about what led to the ethics charges but won’t discuss them.
“I believe the city has begun to move forward and will continue to move forward,” Waddell said.