Salem Twp. man pleads guilty

LISBON – A Salem Township man faces up to eight and a half years in prison and a $27,500 fine after pleading guilty in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to four charges.

Thomas L. Peterson, 49, St. Jacob-Logtown Road, Leetonia, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault, possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer. Sentencing is set for Feb. 13.

Peterson had initially been scheduled for a jury trial on the morning of Nov. 18. Prior to that date, Peterson reportedly told his attorney he planned to plead, so the jury trial was canceled. He then changed his mind about pleading Nov. 18 and asked to be allowed to hire attorney Peter Horvath instead of his current defense attorney, Richard Hura.

To allow Horvath a month to get up to speed, the trial was delayed a month until this Monday. However, Peterson then turned around and pleaded to the charges last Friday.

Peterson’s first charge was due to his part in a car accident, which injured Lynn Mitchell on April 13, 2013 at the intersection of state Routes 7 and 14. At the time, Peterson was reportedly fleeing from state troopers and ran the red light at the intersection crashing into Mitchell’s vehicle. Peterson also attempted to hide a crack cocaine pipe and had cocaine in his possession.