A Huron County magistrate found himself on the wrong side of law earlier this month after he was charged with trespassing for being in the wooded area of a highway rest stop after hours.
Bradley E. Sales, 48, Elyria, was ordered out of a wooded area at the rest stop on the eastbound side of Ohio 2 at 10:11 p.m. July 11 while troopers were investigating another man who was spotted coming out of the woods. The woods are closed to the public from dusk until dawn.
Vermilion Municipal Court, where the case is being heard, released a written statement of the incident written by the trooper who made the arrest.
Here is how the trooper from the Elyria post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the arrest unfolded:
Troopers John Toth and Shawn Kline were checking out the rest area when they spotted Albert Pezzenti, 55, Youngstown, walking out of the woods after dark.
When questioned Pezzenti told the troopers he'd been out for a walk and did not see the sign that said the park was closed to the public after dark.
While detaining Pezzenti in the back of a cruiser, the troopers heard branches breaking in the woods. When the troopers went toward the woods and heard branches breaking again, Toth yelled out into the dark, "If anybody is out there, come out with your hands up."
Sales stepped out of the woods while buttoning up his shirt. The troopers ordered him to the ground.
Sales told the troopers he lived in Elyria and was a magistrate. He works for the Huron County Common Pleas Court. He declined to answer further questions and requested a lawyer.
When reached by phone Friday, Sales declined to comment.
Troy Wisehart, Sales' attorney, said his client was doing nothing criminal. Sales was out for a walk and did not know the park was closed.
"It was a beautiful night, he has a convertible and he was out for a drive," Wisehart said.
Wisehart said there is a scenic overlook or trail at the rest stop that Sales was walking along.
Sales entered a not guilty plea to the trespassing charge on July 14 in Vermilion Municipal Court. The case is set for an 11 a.m. pretrial Aug. 25.
Pezzenti pleaded not guilty to the trespassing charge on July 21. He is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing at 9:15 a.m. Sept. 1.
Trespassing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty, Sales and Pezzenti face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250.