EL man sentenced to 18 months in prison on drug-related charges

LISBON — Todd A. Hawthorne, 38, Garner Avenue, East Liverpool, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on drug-related charges, after Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam denied his request to withdraw his guilty pleas.

Defense attorney Joseph King said he spoke to Hawthorne recently in East Liverpool Municipal Court and Hawthorne indicated he wanted to withdraw his guilty pleas in two Common Pleas Court cases. However, King said Hawthorne failed to come to his office to discuss the possible change of plea and the probation department also reported Hawthorne failed to report to their office for his appointment so a presentencing investigation could be completed.

In the courtroom on Thursday, Hawthorne said he wanted to withdraw his plea due to not understanding the tampering with evidence charges he had pleaded guilty to, questioning how he could tamper with evidence that had not been collected.

In one of the cases, Hawthorne pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, endangering children and possession of cocaine. Those charges came after he was found driving recklessly on state Route 7 with a child in the front seat and a glass pipe with white residue in the vehicle on June 21, 2019.

Hawthorne also pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, two counts of aggravated possession of drugs and tampering with evidence for having cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone and a glass pipe he tried to conceal on May 1, 2019.

He faced up to 10 and a half years and a $33,500 fine for all the charges.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart had asked Washam for the 18 month prison sentence and asked him to deny Hawthorne’s request to withdraw his guilty pleas, stating he found the timing of everything suspicious. Weikart contended this was not the first time Hawthorne had tried to stall, switching counsel once and failing to appear for hearings.

“I have heard no justification other than perhaps a change of heart,” Weikart said, questioning if there was anything from an evidentiary standpoint that would be a valid reason.

King had said his client did not know there was an investigation that would be taking place when a drug-abuse instrument was thrown out of the window of a vehicle in which he was a passenger.

Washam said he had questioned Hawthorne about whether he had any questions when took his guilty pleas and denied his request to withdraw them.

Hawthorne then asked Washam to consider not sending him to prison, stating he needs help.

“I need treatment,” Hawthorne said. “Prison isn’t going to help me. I haven’t had a felony in 20 years.”

Washam asked why Hawthorne had not sought help on his own and Hawthorne said he was currently clean and had been working every day.



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