ELYRIA — Grafton Village Councilman Tom Smith pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor ethics charges during an appearance Wednesday in Elyria Municipal Court.
Smith, who will leave office at the end of the year after losing his re-election bid last month, is accused of improperly accepting tickets to a sporting event from a village contractor in November 2009. Grafton Mayor Megan Flanigan has said that the contractor was Bowling Green-based Poggemeyer Design Group, which serves as an engineering firm for the village.
A call to a Poggemeyer spokesman wasn’t returned Wednesday.
Smith declined to comment after his brief hearing, but his lawyer, Paul St. Marie, said he still needs to review the evidence against his client before discussing the allegations.
“Mr. Smith is disappointed that any poor decision he may have made in the past reflects negatively on his performance as a councilman,” St. Marie said. “He believes that he has always put the interests of the citizens of Grafton first.”
The investigation into Smith began last year after then-Grafton Police Chief Lonnie Carroll sought guidance from Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will about how to deal with the allegations against the longtime councilman. Will recommended that Carroll ask another agency to handle the matter and Carroll brought in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Carroll was fired in August 2012, but Flanigan has said his termination was unrelated to the Smith investigation.
Smith will remain at his day job as a corrections officer at the Lorain County Jail while the criminal case makes its way through the system, county sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh has said.
Once the criminal case is completed, an administrative review will be conducted.