‘Swatting’ defendant enters a guilty plea

Staff photo / Ed Runyan David Dorbish Jr., 17, stands in the courtroom of Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Dorbish pleaded guilty Wednesday to 15 charges related to hoax phone calls he made to communities in six states from 2016 to 2018 from the computer of his Youngstown home.

YOUNGSTOWN — David M. Dorbish Jr., 17, could get about 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to “swatting” law enforcement agencies in communities from six states from 2016 to 2018 — but prosecutors are recommending he get none.

Instead, Mahoning County prosecutors are recommending that Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentence Dorbish on Jan. 31 to one year of incarceration, five years of probation and restitution of $12,972 to the communities victimized. The sentencing is at 8:30 a.m.

Prosecutors are recommending that Dorbish get credit for the nearly 10 months he has already been locked up in the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center since Feb. 28, 2019.

Mike Yacovone, county assistant prosecutor, said it means Dorbish would go free Feb. 28 if the judge agrees with the recommendation.

Dorbish was indicted in November on 27 charges accusing him of making hoax telephone calls from his Youngstown home computer to law enforcement agencies, stating that a major incident was occurring, such as someone being held hostage.

“Swatting” means making hoax phone calls that cause law enforcement agencies — such as a SWAT team — to respond to what they believe is a major emergency that turns out to be false.

The hoax call he made to Dodge County, Wis., in May 2018 shut down a major highway for two hours, authorities said.

The targeted communities are in Wisconsin, New York, Florida, California and New Jersey and Indiana. Authorities there agreed to allow Mahoning County prosecutors to handle the case. The charges also could have been filed in the counties that were victimized.

Together, those communities filed 149 charges against Dorbish in Mahoning County Juvenile Court.

Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick transferred Dorbish’s case to adult court earlier this year so he could be tried as an adult. Prosecutors and a Mahoning County grand jury pared the number of charges to 27.

On Wednesday, Dorbish pleaded guilty to 15 of those — six of making a terroristic threat, six of making false alarms, two of identity fraud and one of telecommunications harassment.

Yacovone said prosecutors are also recommending that Durkin count Dorbish’s 15 convictions as only one for the purposes of any future motions.

Before the hearing, Dorbish’s mother and grandmother said they think it’s important to note that Dorbish was only 15 and 16 when the offenses began.

“He just got involved with the wrong people on the internet,” his mother said. “If anything, he was like a computer geek.”

His grandmother said Dorbish has “really never been in trouble before.”

Dorbish made only one court appearance before his plea hearing was scheduled last month. He was scheduled to go on trial Monday. He remains confined in the juvenile justice center, despite his charges being handled in adult court.



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