9 teens charged in Girard wild party

GIRARD – Nine teens – including four juveniles – are facing misdemeanor charges related to what police are calling an “underaged party” at the home of a city patrolman earlier this month.

Girard police Chief Jeff Palmer said Patrolman Larry Neely was not home at the time of the Feb. 8 gathering that took place in a recreational area of his garage. He said Neely, who was on duty, has not been charged criminally.

However, his stepson, Michael Dulaney, 18, was among the teens charged Wednesday. He was charged with hosting the event at Neely’s Mosier Road home.

The four juveniles, whose names were not released, were charged with underage consumption. Their cases are being handled by the Trumbull County Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office.

The adults, all 18 and Girard High School students, are each charged with disorderly conduct. James Cupan was also charged with marijuana possession. He, along with Zane Chase, Michael Sorvillo and Kylee Johnson, were charged through Girard Municipal Court.

Palmer said the investigation is ongoing and there is a possibility an adult female may also be charged.

Meanwhile, a pre-disciplinary meeting with Neely, 39, is scheduled for Monday. The meeting is contractual between the city and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Palmer said he has made a recommendation on the matter. However, he declined to elaborate until after the process is completed.

Palmer said criminal and internal investigations into the case were launched after police received tips that parties involving underage drinking and marijuana use were taking place at Neely’s home on a regular basis. He said the home had been under police surveillance the past six to eight months.

“We have reason to believe these parties were a regular occurrence. We couldn’t put an exact number on them, but it is believed it’s in the double digits,” Palmer said.

Investigators were unable to prove whether Neely had any knowledge of the parties.

Palmer said police detained 19 underaged males and females at Neely’s residence on Feb. 8. He said 10 of the teens were 18 or older. The others were juveniles. He said the ones charged are first-time offenders.

“But not all of the teens at the party are being charged,” he said. “Our officers actually were able that night to stop the party before it really got started. Otherwise, there may have been more facing charges now.”

He said investigators are looking into where the teens got the alcohol.

City personnel records show that Neely, who was hired almost six years ago, has an extensive disciplinary history with the city police department. Officials said most of the problems have been related to job performance issues dating back to 2009.

For example, he was disciplined after failing to respond to two calls the same day. He has also been accused of failing to inform his superior officer, who was responding to a call, that it was a potentially violence situation.

He has been suspended without pay on several occasions for one, three and 10 days at a time.