Hartville councilwoman off the hook for removing, throwing sign outside Village Hall

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CANTON – A Hartville councilwoman charged with criminal mischief is off the hook for removing a Hartville Village sign and throwing it into the mulch outside Village Hall last month.

Beverly Green, 63, was set for trial Wednesday in Canton Municipal Court on the third-degree misdemeanor charge.

Beverly Green (left) and defense attorney Sam Ferruccio Jr. (right) appear in Canton Municipal Court. A criminal mischief charge against Green was dismissed on Wednesday. She was accused of removing a village sign and tossing it in the mulch outside of Village Hall on Dec. 16.
Beverly Green (left) and defense attorney Sam Ferruccio Jr. (right) appear in Canton Municipal Court. A criminal mischief charge against Green was dismissed on Wednesday. She was accused of removing a village sign and tossing it in the mulch outside of Village Hall on Dec. 16.

At the start of proceedings, Canton City Prosecutor Jason Reese filed a motion to dismiss the charge and Judge John Poulos agreed.

Green's attorney, Sam Ferruccio Jr., said the charge against his client was politically motivated and a "waste of taxpayers' money."

More: Hartville councilwoman accused of tossing village yard sign

Why was the councilwoman Beverly Green charged?

A police report was filed by the village administrator, who found a village sign tossed into an area in front of Village Hall on Dec. 21.

Police reviewed surveillance video that shows Green walking across the grass, removing the "Please STAY OFF GRASS" sign and tossing it into the mulch days earlier.

According to the incident report, the sign had been a matter of contention with Green, who was previously asked several times to not walk on the grass due to its condition.

The sign was purchased and put in the yard at the direction of Mayor Cindy Billings, who told police that Green did not have permission or the authority as a council member to remove it.

"We've charged other individuals in cases of sign removal before, mostly around election time," Police Chief Larry Dordea said.

Canton City Prosecutor Jason Reese (right) files a motion to dismiss a criminal mischief charge against Hartville Councilwoman Beverly Green during a hearing Wednesday in Canton Municipal Court.
Canton City Prosecutor Jason Reese (right) files a motion to dismiss a criminal mischief charge against Hartville Councilwoman Beverly Green during a hearing Wednesday in Canton Municipal Court.

Position of power on Village Council

Reese said Green's position on the council means she is "in a different situation to use or remove village or government property."

"If it were you or me, it would be different because we have no connection with the city or the village," Reese said.

Reese said there is no ordinance restricting anyone from walking across the grass outside Village Hall. "Had there been an ordinance, maybe this would be different," Reese said.

Dordea contends Green was charged for removing the sign, not walking on the grass.

Green remained silent throughout Wednesday's proceedings, telling The Canton Repository she had no comment.

Her attorney, Sam Ferruccio Jr., gave a written statement on her behalf that references previous disagreements between Green and Dordea over his efforts to fund a new police headquarters.

"It is unfortunate that the Citizens of Hartville must deal with such a politically motivated Police Department. To charge a handicap council person with walking on the grass of City Hall when she voted no to a tax increase to fund a new multi-million-dollar police building for Hartville is beyond belief.

"How many citizens of Hartville will be the subject of this abuse and retaliation? Mrs. Green is grateful for the unbiased review, by the Canton Law Department and dismissal of this most ridiculous charge and waste of taxpayers' money."

Green served as the village's mayor for one term between 2004 and 2008 before being elected to council in 2019.

Hartville police chief disappointed with case dismissal

The dismissal was a disappointment to Dordea, who was in the courtroom alongside Hartville Police Lt. Kevin Moore.

"I don't know that justice was served," Dordea said, adding he believes the behavior of leaders, public officials and police officers should be held to a higher standard.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea and Lt. Kevin Moore attended Councilwoman Beverly Green's court hearing on Wednesday.
Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea and Lt. Kevin Moore attended Councilwoman Beverly Green's court hearing on Wednesday.

"It's disappointing because we believe we have video evidence that showed the elements of a crime — and we aren't judges, we're just the police — and our job is to review the behavior ... and send them to court for adjudication," Dordea said.

Reach Cassandra cnist@gannett.com; Twitter @Cassienist

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Mischief case dismissed against Hartville Councilwoman Beverly Green

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