By David Skolnick
An independent mayoral candidate’s behavior “was more animated than usual,” said the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II, which led him to finish services earlier than normal.
John M. Crea, a mayoral candidate and a regular at Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on Parkcliff Avenue, became disruptive Sunday, slapping the walls and his head as well biting his fingers and making unusual statements before suddenly leaving, said the Rev. Mr. Macklin, the church’s senior pastor.
Mr. Macklin also said Crea sent him about two dozen unusual text messages — about being in love with someone’s daughter, paying his taxes, urging the pastor to “tell the clown like it is,” complaining about politics, and asking if he’s heard of the Four Seasons band — between 4:45 and 6 a.m. Sunday before the service.
The pastor said it’s not out of the ordinary for Crea to send him “kind of rambling” texts, but between that and his behavior in church, Mr. Macklin decided he needed to end the service a few minutes early and contact Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert P. Milich.
The judge had ordered Crea to undergo a mental-health assessment and treatment after convicting him Sept. 19 of aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct.
That mental-health assessment is supposed to be today, Judge Milich said.
“He needs to follow treatment requirements, take his meds and make all of his appointments,” he said of Crea. “If he doesn’t, there will be [an arrest warrant] for him.”
The judge said he called police asking officers to “keep an eye out” for him.
Mr. Macklin refuses to press criminal charges against Crea, concerned about his mental condition.
“We don’t want him criminalized,” Mr. Macklin said. “It’s a real sad situation and I feel bad about it. We’re willing to help him.”
Parishioners “understand he has an issue,” Mr. Macklin said. “We have to use discretion in all we do. It’s about mental health and how we need to deal with him. He is welcome to our church as long as he gets the help he needs. He’s not banned.”
Crea couldn’t be reached Monday by The Vindicator to comment, but he told 21 WFMJ-TV, the newspaper’s broadcast partner, that he didn’t threaten anyone while at church.
Judge Milich sentenced Crea to time served after he spent 21 days in the Mahoning County jail unable to post $7,000 bond. Also, Crea received $390 in fines and court costs, was placed on a year’s probation and ordered to pay a $100 probation fee and undergo a mental-health assessment.
Crea is checking in nearly every day with the probation department, the judge said.
Police charged Crea, 45, for blocking the entrance to city hall with his large dog Aug. 30 when a security guard asked him to move several times. Crea refused and then “began yelling and cursing” at the guard, a retired county deputy sheriff, as well as threatening to kill him and have his dog bite him, according to a police report.
As part of his sentence, Crea is banned from city hall unless he has “proof of official business” at the building.
Crea later said he was walking his dog when he was arrested, and disputed the charges even though he pleaded no contest to them Sept. 19.
Also while being booked, Crea slapped a deputy in the face with an open hand, resulting in Crea’s being placed in a “disciplinary pod” with longer lockdown hours, Sheriff Jerry Greene has said.
When asked why he didn’t order Crea to be sent to a mental-health ward, the judge said, “Other than [slapping the deputy], there was no indication of physical violence by him. There was no indication from the prosecutor that was needed. When he was in court, he was very quiet and calm — a choir boy.”
If police see him act in a violent way, he can be placed into a mental-health ward, Judge Milich said.
“We get a lot [of criminal suspects] like him in court,” he said. “Most of our customers have mental-health issues.”