Ex-Liberty schools chief indicted
WARREN — A special report of a Trumbull County grand jury Monday charges a former superintendent of the Liberty Local School District with six felonies and five misdemeanors.
A state auditor’s investigation accuses Joseph S. Nohra Jr., 49, of Topper Hill Drive, Hubbard, of bugging a school district office in 2018.
Nohra is named in direct indictments on six counts of interception of wire, oral or electronic communications, and five counts of interfering with civil rights. The first charges are fourth-degree felonies and the second batch are first-degree misdemeanors.
Nohra resigned in June 2020 as Liberty superintendent. According to county assistant Prosecutor Charles Morrow, the charges stem from an investigation from an incident occurring over two weeks in April 2018. Morrow said none of the intercepted communications involved students or children. A report, however, stated Nohra is accused of installing video surveillance on the ceiling and recording conversations.
Nohra said he would not comment, referring all questions to his attorney David Betras, who did not respond to an email and a voice mail left at his office Monday afternoon.
Calvin Jones, Liberty school board president, said: “Liberty Local Schools does not support illegal activities of school district employees. The school district and its school board also does not support or condone any activities that may be a violation of someone’s civil rights.”
Morrow said the investigation was initiated by the Special Investigations Unit of the state auditor, which executed search warrants at Liberty schools on
March 5, 2019. The auditor’s office then requested assistance from local law enforcement, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office. The release states the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the investigation.
“Because of the complexities and nonviolent nature of the alleged offenses,” the release states, “the extensive investigation progressed at a slower pace with consideration accorded to the health and safety of others, including the grand jurors.”
The September 2020 term of the grand jury was extended an additional five months to hear the full evidence of the case against Nohra.
Morrow stated he will not have further commit nor discuss the evidence of the case against Nohra.
“Mr. Nohra, as with all defendants, is presumed innocent of any wrongdoing until the state of Ohio has proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury at trial,” the release states.
Each fourth-degree felony carries a maximum 18-month prison sentence, while the first-degree misdemeanors each carry maximum six-month jail terms.
His case has been assigned to Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay’s courtroom, where arraignments are scheduled for Wednesday.