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Lorain County prosecutor closes death threat case against Elyria Councilman

The Morning Journal logo The Morning Journal 7/3/2022 Heather Chapin, The Morning Journal, Lorain, Ohio

Jul. 3—The investigation into death threats against an Elyria Councilman and his family has been closed without any charges.

"We won't be proceeding with charges," said Jim Burge, chief of staff for the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office.

Late in May at a council meeting, an accidental open microphone worn by a council member captured a private conversation between council members.

The conversation included threats of traveling to Florida to "kill" Lipian where he was vacationing with his family.

Lipian initially contacted Elyria Police department about the matter and the department launched its own investigation.

Shortly thereafter, Elyria City Prosecutor Amanda Deery stepped in and told Elyria Police Chief William Pelko to send the investigation to an outside agency to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Deery recused her office as well, she said.

On July 1, Pelko stated in an email that the department sent the investigation to the Lorain County Prosecutor's office.

"We gave it to the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office. It has been handed over to them," Pelko stated.

Lipian went to meet with the prosecutor to discuss the situation, Burge said, but didn't include details of the conversation.

"It's satisfactory to him (Lipian) to proceed without charges," Burge said.

"I hope Elyria pauses and reflects on this situation for a moment: This is what hatred can do to you," Lipian said in response to the closure of the case.

"Their (city council members') comments were callous and careless, but I forgive them. The situation was documented with the principle 'if you hear something, say something,' but prosecuting would only have produced more hate," he added.

"These local events are symptomatic of our larger cultural hostility, which we must, as Elyrians, do our part to moderate. We must keep the 'civil' in 'civil discourse.' We'll have robust debate, but it must always be respectful," Lipian said.

"Teamwork should be our aim, while also ensuring the proper internal mechanisms are in place to hold each other accountable, if necessary. Only by respecting differing opinions can we move forward in peace," he added.

Diane Simmons, Ward-5; Brenda Davis, Ward-2; Jack Cerra, Ward-7; Donna Mitchell, Ward-6; and Eric Breunig, an assistant Elyria law director, were circled in a group at the May 23 council meeting with Cerra's microphone recording the controversial conversation.

Davis reportedly asked Mitchell, 'Are you going to kill him today or tomorrow?'" Lipian had previously said quoting the recording.

Mitchell was quoted as responding, "I'm going to kill him tonight. I'm driving down to Florida and I'm going to fly down to Disney," Lipian previously said.

Elyria City Council is scheduled to meet July 5 at a regular session.

(c)2022 The Morning Journal, Lorain, Ohio Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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