WADSWORTH— Ward 3 City Councilman Lee Potts was arraigned Wednesday in Wadsworth Municipal Court on a trespassing charge dating back to a February incident.
Wadsworth Police Chief Randall Reinke said Wednesday that police received a complaint regarding Potts, 31, and 23-year-old Alyssa Biedron of Brunswick about 10 p.m. Feb. 7.
“They went to a residence on Chestnut Street, they had permission to be there to pick an item up,” Reinke said. “While they were there, they allegedly entered the residence without permission.”
Reinke said a tenant at the home in the 200 block filed the complaint.
Biedron was also charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct with persistence.
Attempts to speak with the resident at the home were unsuccessful Wednesday.
According to the Medina County Auditor’s Office, Bruce and Joanne Sours own the home.
Reinke said both Potts and Biedron were notified that warrants had been issued for them on March 8, and both individuals turned themselves in later that day. Both were then booked and released with a summons to appear in court.
“So they were basically released of their own recognizance,” he said.
Reinke said the timeframe between the initial complaint and when the warrants were issued took a little longer than usual due to a variety of factors.
Reinke said he believes there was some delay with the resident of the home determining if they wanted to pursue charges.
Also when the case was brought to Wadsworth prosecutors, it was sent to a special prosecutor, Matt Laniera of Medina.
“(Wadsworth prosecutors) determined since it involved a city councilperson that they (would) recuse themselves, so it got sent to Matt Lanier up in Medina as a special prosecutor,” Reinke said.
“(Lanier) had to review the case before making the determination on what charges, if any, would be appropriate.”
According to the Ohio Revised Code, the charge is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of no more than $250.
Potts is being represented by attorney and Brunswick City Councilman Nick Hanek.
Hanek confirmed that a “not guilty” plea had been entered Wednesday by Potts, but declined further comment at this time.
According to Potts biography on the Wadsworth city website, he was appointed to serve in August 2017, and currently is on both the city’s Public Service and Public Safety committees.
Potts is a practicing attorney in Wadsworth, and previously served as an assistant Medina County prosecutor until January 2017.
Council President Bob Thurber said Wednesday that he spoke with Potts about the incident on Tuesday.
Thurber said that in the event a member of Council is involved in pending litigation, it is typical for the member in question to recuse themselves from committee work.
“That is where you are the most influential,” Thurber said. “For instance, Mr. Potts is on safety, we would prefer he not weigh in on safety matters while this is working its way through.”
Thurber said Potts has not voluntarily stepped back from any of his Council duties as of Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to the possibility of Potts recusing himself from committee work, Thurber said that it is in his authority as Council president to make a decision regarding Potts’ level of involvement with Council.
“I can decide that maybe for the time being until this winds its way through to not have him go to those (committee meetings),” Thurber said. “Then, at the conclusion of this he just steps back on.”
Thurber said Potts will still have the ability to vote on matters that come before Council during its regular meetings, as long as there is not direct conflict.
“If there is a conflict, I assume he would think to recuse himself from that,” Thurber said. “If he didn’t it would be in my purview to make sure that he did, because clearly we can’t have that.”