Judge approves record expungement for former sheriff’s detective

By Ed Runyan



Sheriff Thomas Altiere objected to sealing the criminal records for a former detective in his department convicted of stealing money from a fundraising organization, but a special prosecutor and Judge W. Wyatt McKay disagreed.

Jane Hanlin, Jefferson County prosecutor, served as special prosecutor for the purposes of handling former Sgt. Peter Pizzulo’s request for expungement and sealing of his records.

Hanlin said Wednesday during a hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that she spoke with Altiere, and Altiere said he was “not in favor of granting this for this particular defendant because, in his opinion, [Pizzulo] was a full sergeant and a ranking officer at the time that this happened.”

Pizzulo was the lead detective on several high-profile investigations in the years before he resigned, including the 2005 murder of two women in Newton Township by Jermaine McKinney.

Hanlin said she informed Altiere she would tell the court of his concerns, but after reviewing the file, Pizzulo “certainly seems to be an eligible offender.”

She added, “He meets all of the requirements of the statute. It was granted for the co-defendant for the same case, and I can see no reason to object to it.”

Before that, Judge McKay informed Hanlin that he had reviewed an investigation of Pizzulo conducted by the county Adult Probation Department, which recommended the expungement.

“I see no reason not to” grant expungement, the judge said.

Hanlin said Pizzulo was eligible because at least three years had passed since his probation was terminated in 2013.

Judge McKay approved the expungement, meaning that a number of agencies will be notified to destroy all records associated with the conviction.

Pizzulo’s attorney, John Large, said the Ohio law for expungement says “if he meets the eligible requirements ... then the court shall grant the expungement.”

Pizzulo, 54, of Warren, and Anthony Leshnack, 48, former chief of the sheriff’s office civil division, were both convicted of grand theft in 2009 for using money from a nonprofit organization they founded in 2004 for their personal use, the Ohio Narcotics Officers Association.

Leshnack also was a sergeant.

The civil division serves documents such as subpoenas and criminal paperwork.

They used the money to take trips to Las Vegas, pay for cellphones, dance lessons and summer camps for family members, as well as to buy handguns and other personal items.

The organization’s stated purpose was to educate the public about drug and alcohol abuse, but about 90 percent of the money went to a telemarketing company, and thousands went to Pizzulo and Leshnack, according to David Joyce, who was special prosecutor for the criminal case.

Expungement was granted to Leshnack earlier, and Altiere did not object to that expungement, Hamlin said.