April 17, 2014

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Theft charge against LCCC arsonist dropped

Drew Mann entered the court to plea in the LCCC fire in 2009, in Judge Mark Betleski court on Sep. 16.   STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Drew Manns entered the court to plea in the LCCC fire in 2009, in Judge Mark Betleski court on Sep. 16. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Prosecutors have dropped a theft charge against the man who set fire to Lorain County Community College in 2009.

Drew Manns, 29, was indicted on the charge by a county grand jury last week, but Assistant County Prosecutor Chris Pierre said during a court hearing Monday that his office was dismissing the case. He said prosecutors will have the right to refile the charge against Manns at a later date.

Defense attorney Ken Nelson said prosecutors dropped the charge because Manns’ mother, Wanda Campolo, didn’t want her son prosecuted.

Nelson said that now that the theft case is no longer an issue, Campolo will be able to visit her son at the Lorain County Jail.

He said because she was considered a victim in the case as long as it was pending, Manns wasn’t allowed to have contact with his mother.

Manns was arrested July 28 about a week after Campolo complained to police and prosecutors that he had fled his house and that she believed he might flee the area. At the time Manns was free on bond while he awaited trial on aggravated arson charges in connection with the college fire, which caused more than $8.5 million in damage to the school.

Manns has since pleaded guilty to aggravated arson in that case and could face up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced in November.

After Manns disappeared in July, his mother told police that she discovered he had withdrawn $7,750 from a bank account she controlled. Manns later argued in court that the money was his and he didn’t impersonate his mother to get the money.

Police tracked Manns to the Sunset Motel in New Russia Township after getting a tip that he had been drinking in Oberlin the night before and flashing a large amount of money. He denied during an earlier court appearance that he planned to flee the area.

On Monday, Manns asked county Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski to release him from jail, where he has been held since July. Betleski said he couldn’t deal with the bond in the arson case because Manns has another attorney handling that matter and that lawyer wasn’t present.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • oldruss

    So, if this were a domestic violence case instead of theft, for example, and the victim chose for whatever reason not to prosecute, the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office would drop the charges, even after a Grand Jury indictment? Isn’t the mother in this instance as much a victim as is one of domestic violence, although of a different nature? I thought the prosecutor represented the People of the State of Ohio and not individual victims, per se. When did the Prosecutor’s Office give control of criminal prosecutions over to the victims?