911 director fined, receives probation
WARREN — Trumbull County 911 Director Ernest Cook on Thursday pleaded no contest in Eastern District Court to two misdemeanor charges linked to a Brookfield accident on July 14, 2018, where a teen skateboarder ran into his car.
Cook, 69, 7144 Wildwood Drive, Brookfield, was charged with loss of physical control under the influence, a first-degree misdemeanor; and failure to report an accident, a minor misdemeanor.
Judge Marty D. Nosich found Cook guilty and on the first charge, gave him a suspended 180-day jail term, a $1,000 fine of which $500 was suspended and placed him on a six-month probation.
On the second charge, Cook was fined $150 plus $45 in court costs.
Cook previously was police chief in Brookfield and Vienna townships and was chief deputy under former Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere.
He was accused of being involved in a collision with a 17-year-old skateboarder on Crestwood Drive. Cook didn’t stop after the accident, an Ohio State Highway Patrol report states.
“I’m glad its over, and I’ve paid my fine,” Cook said. “I was cooperative with everybody from Day 1 and have taken responsibility.”
The accident report showed Michael A. Isco, now 20, was on a skateboard on Sunnydell Drive trying to make a right turn onto Crestwood Drive. That’s when he jumped off the skateboard because he realized he couldn’t make the turn without running into the rear of Cook’s vehicle.
Cook’s vehicle was northbound on Crestwood Drive, the Ohio State Highway Patrol report states. Brookfield police found Cook later at his home, and reports showed he smelled strongly of alcohol and had slurred speech.
Cook took two blood alcohol tests that registered at .125 and .148, the report states. The legal blood alcohol limit for driving in Ohio is .08.
“I’ve been ruminating over this for two-and-a-half years. I haven’t taken it lightly,” Cook said. “That person didn’t go in front of my car. My passenger and I didn’t see him.”
Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said Thursday he will consult with his colleagues, Mauro Cantalamessa and Niki Frenchko, by phone to “see what we are going to do” about Cook.
After the charges were filed against Cook last August, Cantalamessa read from a prepared statement: “I am heartbroken for both families involved in this incident. He (Cook) was with the sheriff’s department for 20 years, and as the head of our county dispatching center and as someone in a position of power and trust, these charges cannot be taken lightly. Myself and the other commissioners will be looking at these charges and consulting with our human resources director to decide a swift course of action.”
Also, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins had petitioned an independent prosecutor be appointed to handle the investigation because of a conflict of interest. Daniel Kasaris of the Ohio Attorney General’s office prosecuted Cook’s case, and Cook was represented by attorney Rob Kokor.