December 19, 2014

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Prominent Wellington brothers face charges in car chase incident

WELLINGTON — When a Wellington man tried to help two men in distress on Wednesday, he didn’t know that they would chase him, assault him and steal his car — or that the two men are well-known members of the Wellington community.

Thomas Denes Jr., 34, and Todd Denes, 31, were charged with felonious assault Friday evening. Todd Denes also was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The men are brothers and incorporators of Denes Concrete at 47599 State Route 18 in Wellington.

The charges came after an incident about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday when Wellington resident Larry Sugaski, 44, drove by Thomas and Todd Denes fighting in a front yard near state Route 58 and Findley State Park, according to Ohio Highway Patrol troopers and Sugaski’s wife, Jeanne.

Larry Sugaski said he was worried after he saw the two men, one with his arms around the other’s throat, and pulled over to ask if they needed help. The men told him to mind his own business and Sugaski continued driving, he said.

As he left the scene, Thomas and Todd Denes started running after him and throwing rocks at his truck, Sugaski said. The brothers then got into their own car and followed Sugaski as he tried to drive to a public place.

“I thought ‘Man, these guys are drunk and crazy, and they’re going to try to hurt me,’ ” Sugaski said.

The brothers followed Sugaski to Findley State Park, where he stopped his car. Leaving it running, Sugaski got out to talk with the men.

As soon as he left the car, one of the men punched Sugaski in the head, sending him to the ground, where both men began to kick him. When they stopped, Sugaski said he looked up and saw one of the two men — later identified as Todd Denes — get into his car and drive it onto a grassy part of the park where he left it, got out and Sugaski said they asked him, “Did you learn your lesson?”

The brothers then fled the scene in their own car, leaving Sugaski on the ground, he said.

Following the incident, Sugaski was treated at Mercy Allen Hospital for a concussion.

Jeanne Sugaski said that since Larry Sugaski was released from the hospital, he has been disoriented and more introverted than usual.

“He can’t be around a lot of people. That’s not Larry,” she said.

The Denes brothers turned themselves in to North Ridgeville post of the patrol on Friday night, said Trooper Tim Hoffman.

The brothers are active in the Wellington community. Their late father, Tom Denes, served on the Board of Directors for the Lorain County Fair for 13 years and owned a concrete business in Wellington. When he died in August 2010, the business was passed on to Thomas Denes Jr., with his brother Todd Denes as an incorporator.

In the time they have operated the business, Denes Concrete has worked on a September 11 Memorial near the Lorain County Vocational School and poured the concrete for a sidewalk in Kipton.

The business now is hauling dirt for a project to build an underpass near Route 58 in Wellington, said Mayor Barbara O’Keefe.

The men were arraigned at Oberlin Municipal Court on Monday, an experience that Jeanne Sugaski calls “very intimidating.”

Jeanne Sugaski said she is concerned for her family’s safety and, on Monday, she signed a temporary protection order against the brothers.

The brothers were held at Lorain County Jail until they posted bond Monday.