Special prosecutor to handle accident involving Trumbull 911 director

Staff report


A special prosecutor will handle an investigation into alleged illegal activity involving a July 14 vehicle crash in Brookfield Township involving Ernie Cook, Trumbull County 911 director.

Dan Kasaris, senior assistant Ohio attorney general, was appointed Tuesday. Kasaris is authorized to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute the case.

Cook smelled of alcohol and had a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit three hours after the accident, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

Cook, who was also former chief deputy under Sheriff Thomas Altiere and former Vienna Township police chief, was driving on Crestwood and Sunnydale drives when a skateboarder lost control and ran into the front driver’s side of Cook’s car, the highway patrol reported.

The skateboarder, 17, of Brookfield, said his foot and leg were run over by the car, which left the scene. Cook later said he didn’t know he hit a person.

The matter could involve charges such as operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and or drugs, failure to stop after an accident or collision involving bodily injury to person or property, tampering with evidence, vehicular assault or aggravated vehicular assault, according to a judgment entry signed by county Common Pleas Court Judge Peter Kontos, who approved the appointment of Kasaris.

County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins requested a special prosecutor because of the potental for a conflict of interest involving the prosecutor’s office and Cook, according to a petition filed with Judge Kontos.

Kasaris has prosecuted a number of high-profile criminal cases, including one against former Niles Mayor Ralph Infante.

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