The owners of Warren Sharon Road property that trustees have tried to get cleaned up, and which neighbors continue to complain about and call a junkyard, pleaded not true Thursday, May 10, to allegations that they violated probation for failing to live up to a judge’s order.
“Well, I’m not happy,” Trumbull County Eastern District Court Judge Rob Platt told Tommie Lee Phillips, 8085 Warren Sharon Road, after the judge introduced the case.
“Me neither,” Phillips responded. “I was under mental stress.”
The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department charged Phillips, 58, and Kathleen L. Norris, 52, in July 2015 with a criminal nuisance violation. They pleaded no contest and each were fined $100 and put on 1 year probation. They admitted probation violations a year later and the probationary period was extended for another year.
Township Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Ewing said the problem has gotten worse, with Phillips bringing in numerous cars, trucks, boats and campers. Tires, car parts and other debris are strewn about the property, he said.
“I think there’s 35 junk vehicles out on this property right now,” township attorney Gil Blair reported to the trustees on Monday, May 7.
The plea of not true means Phillips and Norris do not agree that they have violated probation, and a hearing will be set for the judge to take testimony and decide whether probation was violated or not.
Platt said the hearing would be scheduled for about a month later.
“I’m not going to kick this down the road very far,” he told Phillips. “I’ve been dealing with this for nearly three years.”
Phillips is represented by the public defender, but the PD’s office cannot represent Norris because her husband is a co-defendant. A lawyer will be appointed to defend her.
The maximum penalty Philips and Norris could receive if they are deemed to have violated probation is 6 months in jail and a $500 fine, Ewing said.
Although Platt had ordered Phillips and Norris to clean up the property, he does not have the authority to allow the township to do it. Township trustees on Monday authorized the filing of a civil action in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
“It will ask the court to give them a date certain to have the property cleaned up,” Blair said. “If that does not occur, the township can then go in, clean up the property, remove the nuisances. Then, if that occurs, it will allow us to assess the costs to the property owner.”