Former deputy’s record gets expunged

WARREN — A former lawman who investigated some of the most high-profile crimes in Trumbull County, including the 2006 murder of a former U.S. Air Force pilot from Newton Falls, saw his felony conviction expunged Wednesday.

Peter Pizzulo, 54, a former lead investigator for the county Sheriff’s office, had his record ordered sealed by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay. Pizzulo’s 2009 conviction stemmed from a scheme to steal $33,000 from a charitable organization he and a colleague had formed five years earlier.

Pizzulo, who was convicted May 15, 2009, of a fourth-degree grand theft charge, has completed his five years’ probation imposed Sept. 24, 2009, by McKay, who also ordered him to serve 30 days in the Geauga County Jail. Pizzulo also had to pay $8,500 in restitution.

Attempts to contact Pizzulo’s attorney, John Large, were unsuccessful.

A check of court records shows that the co-defendant in the case, former Sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Leshnack, also had his record expunged.

Leshnack, 48, who was chief of the sheriff’s civil division, blamed a gambling problem for the felonies linked to the Ohio Narcotics Officers Association. Leshnack also was given five years’ probation, which included an order to pay restitution and a 90-day term in the Geauga jail.

An investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation showed the men used the money for personal purposes, including trips,  cellphones and dance lessons.

Both men, who also were ordered not to have contact with each other, resigned in November 2008.

In 2006, Pizzulo was lead investigator in the Carl Hoerig murder case, in which the prime suspect is the pilot’s wife, Claudia Hoerig. She was indicted on the murder charge and escaped to her native country of Brazil.

Earlier this year, she was arrested in Brazil and, according to U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, Claudia Hoerig is going through the appeal process before her extradition back to Trumbull County for trial. Court officials believe Pizzulo is expected to testify in that case.