George Pierce accused of operating vehicle while intoxicated, fighting in carBy MARGIE TRAX PAGE
An employee of the Ashtabula County prosecutor's office was discharged after being arrested and charged early Friday morning with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini said.
Assistant Prosecutor George "Franklin" Pierce and his friend, Robert Barnes, were fighting in a car parked along Interstate 90 at 2:15 a.m. Friday, when an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper was called to the scene, Lt. Marvin Hill, of OHP's Saybrook post, said.
Pierce was injured and taken to UH-Geneva Medical Center for treatment, where he was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence, Hill said. The nature and extent of Pierce's injuries were not released.
Barnes was arrested and charged with assault and taken to Ashtabula County Jail, Hill said.
"This was not a traffic stop. These two were parked along the interstate, and somehow our post was called to the scene," Hill said.
Sartini was notified of the incident within an hour of it's occurrence. Pierce's employment with the county was terminated Friday, the day the incident occurred, Sartini said.
"It goes without saying that I was deeply disappointed to learn about this matter. I was left with no option but to take immediate action to rectify a situation arising from behavior that cannot be tolerated," Sartini said.
Pierce is charged with OVI and will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Thursday in Western County Court.
Barnes pleaded not guilty to assault during his arraignment Friday afternoon. He was granted the services of public defender Richard Danolfo, court records show.
Hill said the case is still under investigation and no further details will be released.
"This is a sensitive case involving a former assistant prosecutor. We have to watch the information (in the case) carefully and respect that Mr. Pierce has not been arraigned yet," Hill said.
Conneaut City Law Director Lori Lamer has agreed to act as a special prosecutor in any criminal charges the state prosecutes resulting from the incident, Sartini said.
Star Beacon Print Edition: 1/30/2007