October 20, 2014

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Lorain Council candidate pleads no contest to gun charge

LORAIN — Former Lorain City Councilman Dennis Flores was ordered to pay a $100 fine and court costs Friday after pleading no contest earlier to a minor misdemeanor weapons charge.

Flores, who has a concealed carry permit, initially had been charged with a more serious first-degree misdemeanor weapons violation following his arrest on Nov. 16 while he was taking pictures of dilapidated houses for his neighborhood watch.

Police noticed that Flores was armed with a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic pistol after they were called to the West 13th Street area on a complaint that Flores had been photographing children.

Authorities said the photographs on Flores’ camera showed the focus was on the buildings and not the children, but Flores was charged with failing to immediately alert an officer that he was armed as required by Ohio law.

Lorain police Sgt. Larry Meek said that Flores never told Officer Efrain Torres, the first officer on the scene, that he was carrying.

Meek said Flores didn’t tell him either when he arrived a moment later, and he only noticed Flores was armed when Flores’ shirt lifted up showing a gun holster, according to an account in a police report.

Flores contended he told the police officer he was armed, but the officer didn’t hear him because he was using a police radio.

In March, prosecutors and Lorain Municipal Judge Mark Mihok said that they would agree to reduce the charge if Flores completed a 12-hour refresher course with the National Rifle Association.

After court, Mihok said he was pleased that Flores completed the weapons course and the matter was resolved.

“I totally understand why police are sensitive to people carrying weapons and want to know immediately about it,” the judge said.

He said the matter turned out to be “a fairly harmless situation.”

After court, Flores, accompanied by his attorney, Michael Scherach, said he decided to get a concealed carry permit after a drug dealer “threatened to put a cap in my butt” in 2007. He said his car also was vandalized about the same time.

Flores, 56, had an earlier brush with the law but neither conviction is stopping him from running again for City Council.

He was arrested in 2008 on charges he was driving drunk and trying to solicit a prostitute when he was caught in a police sting. He later pleaded no contest to charges of solicitation and physical control, which was lowered from the original DUI charge.

Flores lost his re-election bid to represent the city’s 2nd Ward in 2010, but won the Democratic primary against incumbent Andy Drwal earlier this month in hopes of regaining his spot on City Council.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.