Ashtabula man offered plea deal for alleged Elks Lodge theft

Mar. 14—JEFFERSON — An Ashtabula man has been offered an undisclosed plea deal for allegedly stealing more than $82,500 from the Ashtabula Elks Lodge No. 208.

Joseph W. Pierce, 74, is charged with two counts of grand theft, both fourth-degree felonies, per the indictment.

Count one charges Pierce took more than $36,000 from the lodge between Oct. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021, according to the indictment.

Count two charges Pierce stole more than $46,500 from the lodge between Jan. 1, 2018 and Oct. 1, 2020, according to the indictment.

Last Thursday, prosecutors offered Pierce an undisclosed plea deal, which Pierce said he will take under consideration, according to court records.

If he doesn't take the plea offer, a jury trial is set for 8:15 a.m. April 11 in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Harris.

Pierce attended his arraignment Jan. 4 flanked by public defender, Jeffrey Davis, according to Common Pleas Court records.

He was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. In addition to the bond, Pierce is not allowed to have any contact with the Elks Club, court records show.

According to the Elks Lodge No. 208 website, Pierce serves as "trustee chair" of the lodge.

In early July, members of the lodge reported money missing from gambling machine profits, according to Ashtabula County Sheriff William Niemi.

An audit of last year's gambling machines revealed the discrepancy, according to a sheriff's report.

At first, an Elks officer told investigators about $35,400 was missing from the gambling machine profits from the time period of October 2020 to December 2021, but further investigation revealed more money had been stolen over a longer period of time, according to sheriff's reports.

The Elks Lodge No. 208 operates out of a large lakefront building at 3115 Lake Road West.