In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, December 30, 2021, Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald Rice dismissed six felony counts that had been lodged against former Liberty Local Schools Superintendent Joe Nohra earlier this year. The ruling came in response to a motion filed by Atty. David Betras arguing that the statutes under which Mr. Nohra had been indicted were unconstitutionally vague. In a well reasoned six-page decision Judge Rice agreed:
“Therefore, upon reconsideration of Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Counts 1-6 of the Indictment for Vagueness, the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence the Defendant has presented a presently existing set of facts that make the statutes unconstitutional and void when applied to those facts. The Defendant’s Motion is well taken and the same is hereby granted.” The decision may be viewed and downloaded here: Rice dismissal of Nohra felony charges
Atty. Betras hailed the decision as a victory for Mr. Nohra and the justice system. “As we have said previously, Mr. Nohra, at the discrection of the school board, and with approval of legal counsel, took appropriate action to protect the district and the taxpayers. He should have been commended instead of prosecuted,” Betras said.
Atty. Betras said BKM is prepared to mount a vigorous defense against the remaining misdemeanor charges that were included in the indictment.
When Mr. Nohra was indicted Atty. Betras pledges that the BKM legal team would aggressively defend Mr. Nohra in court and in the court of public opinion. “We simply won’t allow the people we represent to be smeared or damaged by rumors and innuendo,” he said. The firm also released the following statement on Mr. Nohra’s behalf:
“Mr. Nohra emphatically and categorically denies the baseless allegations contained in the indictment handed down yesterday by the Trumbull County Grand Jury.
After being presented with credible evidence that an employee of the Liberty Local Schools was engaged in activities that constituted theft in office, Mr. Nohra, with the knowledge and approval of the members of the Liberty Local Schools Board of Education and the Board’s legal counsel, initiated an investigation that resulted in the suspect employee’s resignation from the school system.
The actions described in the indictment were conducted in conjunction with and for the sole purpose of facilitating the above-referenced investigation. The members of the Board of Education and the Board’s legal counsel approved the use of surveillance equipment before it was installed. In addition, written Board policy authorizes the superintendent to utilize surveillance equipment when necessary and with approval of the Board which Mr. Nohra sought and received.
Mr. Nohra ensured that the Board members and their legal counsel were kept fully informed during each step of the investigation, were apprised of the evidence of wrongdoing that was gathered and were aware of its outcome.
My client is both bewildered and astounded that he now faces criminal charges for taking decisive steps to protect the taxpayers and looks forward to defending himself against these ludicrous accusations.”