By Kalea Hall
The attorney for a Poland schools teacher accused of complicity to robbery and fleeing from police told Judge Joseph Houser of Mahoning County Area Court that he thinks the complicity charge should be dismissed.
The Poland special- education teacher, Irene Consiglio, 46, of Canfield, had a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Her husband, Frank Consiglio, 45, is accused of taking a purse Oct. 2 from a 66-year-old woman outside the Sandwich Factory in Boardman. Irene is accused of driving the getaway car.
She also is accused of driving off after a Boardman officer stopped the vehicle.
“They can link her to the car, but they can’t link her to the robbery,” Atty. Timothy Franken said at her preliminary hearing.
The robbery occurred about 6:45 p.m. Georgina Kerr of Columbiana testified that she had a bag of sandwiches in her hand, her purse on her shoulder and her car keys in the other hand when a man came up and grabbed her purse. Police have said the purse contained $900 in cash, a $1,500 check, a $60 check, and multiple debit and credit cards.
“In the matter of a couple of seconds I was down on the pavement,” said Kerr, who suffered minor injuries.
She said she saw a man running with her purse.
“I was yelling and screaming,” Kerr said. “I didn’t even know exactly what happened.”
Within minutes, police were able to track the vehicle. Witnesses gave a description of the gray Hyundai and the license number of the temporary tag on the car.
Police stopped the car on U.S. Route 224, but as the officer exited his cruiser, the vehicle, being driven by Irene, fled. The car eventually was pulled over in the parking lot of the Blue Wolf Tavern Banquet Center on Lockwood Boulevard. There, the passenger door opened and Frank ran into the woods, police say.
Boardman Detective Sgt. Glen Riddle, who also testified Tuesday, said he spoke with Irene about the robbery.
“She stated she didn’t know her husband was going to rob somebody,” Riddle said.
Irene told police she fled because her husband had pending charges in Campbell, Riddle said.
Frank Consiglio was arrested May 17 after Campbell police stopped his vehicle for expired plates, and then found he had a suspended license, according to a police report.
Frank told police he had some cocaine in the car, the report states. The cocaine was seized, as well as $140, and the car was towed.
Despite his attempt to avoid arrest in the Boardman robbery, police caught Frank a day later at the CVS pharmacy on Market Street. Police found a broken-up white alprazolam pill in his possession and a straw with an unidentified powder residue. Alprazolam treats anxiety and panic disorders.
Frank also appeared in Boardman court for arraignment Tuesday on the felony charge of robbery and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drugs. He pleaded not guilty to the drug-possession charge. He asked to be appointed counsel, and he has a preliminary hearing at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Irene has no criminal history and received successful ratings on her teacher evaluations from Poland schools. She was labeled as a “passionate educator” in one of her evaluations. Irene has been with the district for 13 years. She is a special-education teacher and head track coach at Poland Middle School.
Before her arrest, she had been out of the school building for an unrelated matter, schools Superintendent David Janofa said.
Outside of teacher evaluations in her personnel file, obtained by The Vindicator, there also are numerous letters. School officials met with Irene in March to discuss her absences. At that time she had 32 absences.
A subsequent letter dated June 7, 2013, from Mark Covell, Poland Middle School principal, is a written reprimand “for acts of unprofessional behavior.” In the letter, Covell wrote Irene Consiglio repeatedly was late for work; had poor attendance, missing 44 days at that point; and she failed to follow procedure for reporting off sick on several occasions.
“Your lack of professionalism has affected your students and colleagues,” Covell wrote. “Your poor attendance surely will have a negative impact on the educational growth of your students.”
Covell also wrote this would not be tolerated and “appropriate employee discipline” would occur if the behaviors continued.
There also is a “second notification of reprimand for acts of unprofessional behavior and negligence of duty” dated June 17 from Covell.
“You did not complete your duty of registering your final grades for your seventh-grade computer classes,” Covell wrote.
Several attempts to call Irene and get in touch with her through family members were unsuccessful, according to the letter.
“Finally, on Thursday, June 13, I was able to gain access to your account and enter your students’ final grades myself,” Covell wrote.
Irene Consiglio’s case now will be considered by a Mahoning County grand jury.
Her son, Frank Consiglio II, 20, also is being detained in the county jail. He has been jailed since Sept. 20 on charges of receiving stolen property, expired license plates, criminal damaging, theft, obstructing official business and driving under suspension.
At 4 p.m. Oct. 24, Frank J. Consiglio II will appear in Mahoning County court here. In addition, a jury trial on charges of receiving stolen property is set in the court for 10 a.m. Oct. 28, and a pretrial hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 28 in Canfield Mayor’s Court on charges of criminal damaging.