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Ex-Liberty firefighter’s case headed to grand jury

Ex-fireman faces 3 felonies

LIBERTY — A case against a former Liberty firefighter was bound over for consideration by a Trumbull County grand jury.

Joshua Cleland, 41, of Warner Road, Vienna, was charged in Girard Municipal Court last week with three felonies: possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability; and two misdemeanors: possession of drugs and violation of laws governing who can sell, purchase, distribute and process certain drugs, according to court records.

Cleland’s significant other, Hayley Omar, 42, Warner Road, faces charges of complicity and obstruction in Girard Municipal Court. That case also was bound over to a grand jury.

A message was left Wednesday with attorney Christopher Maruca, who is representing the couple in the criminal case, according to court records, and in a civil case the couple filed against the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force demanding their property back following a search of their home earlier this year.

Cleland and other firefighters were forced out of the department following an investigation that arose after the death of a Liberty firefighter / paramedic.

The investigation led to a charge of misdemeanor assault against former firefighter Justin Graham, 40, of Sampson Road, Liberty. Graham pleaded not guilty in Girard Municipal Court. A trial is scheduled for Nov. 19 before Judge Jeffrey Adler. Graham is accused of urinating in a communal tea kettle at the fire station.

An investigation at the fire department began after firefighter / paramedic John Beard died from an accidental drug overdose. Police read messages sent between him and the other firefighters.

Jennifer Beard, the sister of the deceased firefighter, said in July that her brother and his friends often communicated in jokes. She said she believes police misinterpreted the messages by interpreting them literally and questioned the way police obtained her brother’s communication device.

news@tribtoday.com

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