Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Felony charge against trustee won't proceed

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - A concealed weapon charge against Lee Speidel has been reduced, eliminating any concern that the Deerfield Township trustee would have to be removed from office if convicted.

Mason Municipal Judge George Parker issued a written ruling Monday that there was enough evidence presented at Speidel's preliminary hearing last week to proceed with a first-degree misdemeanor charge - but not with the original felony charge. Speidel is accused of concealing a pistol when he confronted four cable workers near his 70-acre farm Jan. 12.

If Speidel had been found guilty of a felony, he would not have been allowed to stay in public office.

"No evidence, however, was presented that the firearm was either loaded or was there ammunition ready at hand at the time of the alleged offense as is required to raise the level of offense to a felony of the fourth degree," Parker wrote.

Speidel referred all questions to his attorney John Smith, who declined to comment Monday.

Mason Prosecutor Robert Peeler said he would discuss the matter with the Warren County prosecutor to see if they want to take the case to a grand jury or resolve the matter in Municipal Court.

Cable worker Paul W. Maynor Jr. testified Speidel put his hand on one worker and pushed him. Speidel then pulled back his coat to reveal a holster belt, Maynor said.

Speidel is scheduled to be in Mason Municipal Court on March 18.

His attorney said during the hearing that Speidel was carrying the weapon only in case he needed to defend his family.

"This gentleman lives with his 90-year-old mother on a dead-end road in a rural part of the township," Smith said.


E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com

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