By David Skolnick
Facing misdemeanor charges of aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct, Youngstown mayoral candidate John M. Crea has spent the last week in the Mahoning County jail, unable to post $7,000 bond.
A Youngstown police report states that Crea, 45, was blocking the entrance to city hall, 26 S. Phelps St., with his large dog about 9:40 a.m. Aug. 30 when a city security guard asked him several times to move, which he refused to do. Crea then “began yelling and cursing” at the security guard, a retired Mahoning County deputy sheriff, as well as threatening to kill the guard and have his dog bite the guard, the report states.
Crea left when the security guard and a deputy pursued him, catching him about 10:25 a.m. on West Federal and Hazel streets, the report states.
Crea entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday in Youngstown Municipal Court to the criminal charges. Magistrate Anthony Sertick ordered him held on $7,000 bond and told him he is to have no contact with the security guard. Crea said he doesn’t have the money to hire an attorney, and the magistrate appointed legal counsel to represent him.
Crea’s next court appearance is an 11 a.m. Sept. 19 pretrial hearing in front of Judge Robert P. Milich.
By coincidence, Sept. 19 is the date of the first Youngstown mayoral primary debate at 7 p.m. at Mill Creek MetroParks’ D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center, sponsored by the 7th Ward Citizens Coalition.
Crea worked at Liberty Ford Solon, a car dealership in that Cuyahoga County city. An employee at the dealership told The Vindicator that Crea no longer works there.
Crea signed a release to give his dog to the Animal Charity Humane Society in Boardman.
While the police report states Crea threatened to have his dog bite the security guard, he wrote in an email to a Vindicator reporter on June 14 that his dog, named Flash, is an “80-pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever,” and that is the same breed of dog owned by George Custer and Teddy Roosevelt.
“The amazing thing about the breed is that despite its size and loud bark, when confronted by smaller yapping dogs, the larger breed minds his own business and proceeds on the correct path,” he wrote. “Historically, that attribute was shared by the owners of the breed as well.”
Crea’s dog weighs closer to 100 pounds, said Talia Musolino, the humane society’s executive director.
The dog is up for adoption, she said.
“He’s got a really good temperament and he’s really sweet,” Musolino said. “He’s pretty harmless.”
Before his arrest, Crea exchanged numerous emails with a Vindicator reporter, writing that he used to be a “resident supervisor” at Community Corrections Association, a halfway house in Youngstown, and in that position he “heard both sides of the crime-and-punishment debate firsthand.”
In a May 6 email, he wrote that he would “do my best to be honest, forthright and entertaining at the same time.”
In that same email, Crea wrote that he is “passionate about this city” and that “school and criminal issues” weaken Youngstown.
On Aug. 14, he wrote that major businesses that receive tax breaks from the city should be asked to use a local credit union for their payrolls and “a portion of other financial accounts” so that money then could be lent to small start-up businesses.
Also running for mayor is Democrat John A. McNally IV, a former city law director and county commissioner; DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary, and Frank Bellamy, both independents; and write-ins Cecil Monroe and Claudette Moore.