Saturday, January 31, 2004

Trustee faces weapons charge

By Erica Solvig and Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - The township's newest trustee faces a felony charge after an armed run-in with utility workers installing cable near his 70-acre farm.

Lee Speidel, elected in November, was charged Friday with carrying a concealed weapon. If convicted, he faces six to 18 months in jail and would not be able to hold public office.

The incident prompted township officials to request an armed Warren County sheriff's deputy be at their meetings, and at least one trustee wants to look into getting portable metal detectors.

"It was an immediate safety issue, mine and the public's and the staff's,'' said trustee President Randy Kuvin.

Speidel is accused of displaying a pistol in its holster when he confronted four cable workers near his Kings Mills Road property Jan. 12, said Mason City Prosecutor Robert Peeler. A cable worker told deputies that Speidel accused them of trespassing.

"It was deer season and I figured they were hunters who were trespassing," Speidel said.

There was no allegation that Speidel took the gun out of the holster or threatened the workers.

"I really don't think I could be convicted on this," Speidel said. "I could not imagine that anyone would construe that I did anything wrong."

Speidel was convicted in December of misdemeanor criminal mischief for taking down the incumbent trustee's yard sign during the election campaign.

Kuvin said Friday that trustees learned about the investigation just days before last week's work session. A deputy was there, and similar security is expected at Tuesday's meeting.


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