Men accused of stealing city water say matter is 'misunderstanding'


The attorney representing two men accused of stealing water from a Wilson Avenue fire hydrant this weekend called the entire situation a “silly misunderstanding” — and said he has the city-issued, handwritten work orders from previous jobs to prove it.

“These guys have been caught in a paperwork snafu, and they shouldn’t be punished for this,” said Scott C. Essad, attorney for Odyssey Environmental Services LLC, which employs the two men.

Both Phillip G. Stratus, 26, of Oxford Avenue in Niles, and Leonard W. Villers, 58, of Stanford Avenue in Youngstown, pleaded not guilty to charges of theft and tampering with the city’s water system in Campbell Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.

Stratus and Villers, who were each held on a $2,500 bond in the Campbell jail pending their mandatory court appearance, will next appear in court for a Sept. 26 pretrial. No additional bond was set by Judge Patrick P. Cunning.

The two men were arrested at 2:30 p.m. Saturday after city police spotted the men filling up a tanker truck from the fire hydrant. They told police they were cleaning catch basins for the city and had permission to take as much water as they needed, but could not provide a work order.

Read the complete story in Wednesday's Vindicator or on

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.