Judge denies Ziegler’s request

WARREN – A Trumbull County judge has denied convicted felon LaShawn Ziegler’s request to shorten his probation so he can pursue a career as an over-the-road truck driver without having to report to a probation officer.

Ziegler made the request through his attorney about a week ago. The move would have terminated his five-year probation period after less than three years.

Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay denied the request in a brief written Thursday.

Assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker opposed the motion to terminate probation, reminding the court that Ziegler was convicted of nine felony violations and was given a suspended three-year prison sentence.

Ziegler said later Thursday that he wasn’t aware that the judge had made a decision until contacted by The Tribune Chronicle. He said he has a new attorney, Walter Madison, and he expects Madison to refile a similar motion.

Ziegler, 40, had said that he was moving to Bedford even though the commercial driver’s license still shows a Solar Drive N.W. address in Warren.

Becker also pointed out in his written opposition that Ziegler previously ran two controversial taverns, both of which were shut down by the city. His nightclub 77 Soul on Youngstown Road was closed for building violations. Later, Ziegler ran Benji Brown’s Bar and Grill on North Park Avenue, which was raided in April 2008 and found to be operating with no liquor permit.

More recently, he was associated with the Sunset Lounge, where 25-year-old Cory Blackwell was shot to death early New Year’s Day inside the building during a party.

The owner of the Sunset building at 480 E. Market St., Joseph Sankey, voluntarily closed the bar in early January. And a liquor hearing is scheduled for Thursday after Warren City Council in August objected to the renewal of the liquor license due to numerous complaints by area area residents about the Sunset’s operation.