AUSTINTOWN Appeals court upholds sentence over junk cars

The attorney who argued Russell's appeal had his license suspended in June.
AUSTINTOWN -- The 7th District Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling requiring a township man to serve 20 days in jail because he did not remove inoperable vehicles from his property.
No date has been set for Harry Russell, 71, of 6399 Fairview Road, to start serving the sentence.
Russell said that, as of Monday, he had not received a copy of the appeals court ruling. However, he noted that he recently learned that his attorney in the appeal, Alan Belkin of Cleveland, no longer has a license to practice law.
Jonathan Coughlan, the disciplinary counsel for the Ohio Supreme Court, said Belkin's license was suspended in June because he could not prove that he had met the state's education requirements. Attorneys in Ohio are required to undergo 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years, Coughlan said.
"He hasn't done me any good," Russell said of Belkin. "He offered no defense."
Russell added that he is looking for an attorney to take over his case.
Austintown Zoning Inspector Michael Kurilla Jr. said the appeals court decision was expected.
"We saw this as an attempt to prolong, delay, forestall what is an inevitable result," he said.
1999 ruling: Russell had been ordered to serve the remaining 20 days of a 30-day jail sentence in September 1999 by Mahoning County Court Judge Joseph Houser. Houser ruled that Russell had not lived up to his part of an agreement requiring the vehicles to be removed from his property by January 1999.
Russell appealed the September 1999 ruling, stating that he had presented evidence to the county court demonstrating that he had removed the vehicles from his property.
However, the appeals court judges said Oct. 11 that they never received a copy of the court transcript that would include Russell's evidence. Russell was responsible for giving them the transcript, the appeals judges said.
Kurilla has said that Russell has more than 60 inoperable vehicles on his 6.5 acres.
History of citations: Russell received his first citation for violating the zoning code in 1989. Judge Fred Bailey later dismissed the citation, which he felt was issued because Russell was running for township trustee at the time.
Kurilla gave Russell another citation in 1994. That one was upheld by Bailey, who fined Russell $2,500. Bailey stated that $2,400 of the fine would be suspended if the inoperable vehicles were removed from the property within 60 days.
Russell never removed the vehicles or paid the fine and, as a result, he was ordered to serve 30 days in jail in July 1998. He signed the agreement to remove the vehicles by January 1999 after serving 10 days of the sentence.