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Former Liberty firefighter makes court appearance

WARREN – Former Liberty Township Firefighter Joshua Cleland pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated possession of drugs and tampering with evidence, as well as a misdemeanor charge of possession of drugs during an arraignment hearing before Judge Andrew D. Logan this morning.

Cleland was assigned a $1,500 bond.

He agreed to a 120-day waiver of his speedy trial time, delaying his trial date until Aug. 22.

If convicted on all charges, Cleland could face a potential maximum of 6 1/2 years in prison.

Cleland and two other ranking firefighters, Lt. Justin Graham and Capt. Chris Olson, were forced out of the department last spring following an investigation that arose after the April 12, 2020, death of Liberty firefighter / paramedic John Beard. Beard died from an accidental drug overdose.

In March 2021, an arbitrator ruled in favor of Liberty firefighter

The probe led agents with the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force to raid Cleland’s Warner Road home last spring.

For more on this story, read Wednesday’s Vindicator.

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