December 22, 2014

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Veteran Services commissioner placed in diversion program for marijuana arrest

 Don Attie

Don Attie

AVON LAKE — Lorain County Veterans Service Commissioner Don Attie was placed in a diversion program Thursday for a marijuana arrest in May.

Under the terms of the agreement, reached in Avon Lake Municipal Court, Attie must complete 20 hours of community service and a drug awareness class in addition to making a $100 donation to a charity of his choice and paying $200 in supervision fees.

If Attie completes the program by October, the possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia charges he pleaded guilty to during his court appearance will be dropped, Sheffield Prosecutor Chris Cook said.

The case will be sealed from public view once the diversion program is completed, Cook said.

Attorney John Prusak said his client was satisfied.

“It was a good resolution to avoid any conviction for the parties involved,’’ he said.

Cook said although Attie has a previous felony drug conviction from 41 years ago, he felt allowing the Vietnam veteran to participate in the diversion program was appropriate because otherwise Attie had a clean record.

Attie was cited on the drug charges at 12:20 p.m. May 12 after Lorain County Metro Parks Ranger Capt. Michael Goodrich spotted Attie’s van in French Creek Reservation. Goodrich wrote in his report that he thought the two people in the van were engaged in sexual conduct, an allegation Attie has vehemently denied.

While he was talking with Attie and Patricia Falbo, who also was in the van, Goodrich smelled marijuana and asked if there was anything illegal inside. Attie said he had some marijuana.

The report said Goodrich found a burnt marijuana cigarette on the dashboard and three other joints in the van. He also found an open 24-ounce can of Bud Light beer on the floorboard after Falbo got out of the vehicle.

Cook said an open container citation against Falbo will be dropped if Attie completes the diversion program.

Attie previously said he uses marijuana to treat anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, which he developed while serving in the military. He has been a vocal proponent of legalizing medical marijuana in addition to his work on numerous veterans’ causes in the county.

He said in July that he views his marijuana use and advocacy as separate from the work he does on behalf of veterans and their families.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.