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Liberty ex-firefighter charged with felonies

WARREN — Former Liberty Township firefighter Joshua Cleland, 42, was indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury Wednesday on charges connected to a yearlong drug investigation linked to the fire department.

Cleland, of Warner Road, Vienna, is charged with two felonies — aggravated possession of drugs with specification for forfeiture, and tampering with evidence.

A former lieutenant in the Liberty Fire Department, Cleland also is charged with a first-degree misdemeanor drug possession.

If found guilty of all charges, he would face a potential maximum of six-and-a-half-years in prison.

Cleland’s significant other, Hayleh A. Omar, 43, of the same Warner Road address, was indicted on a misdemeanor obstructing official business charge that will be handled in Girard Municipal Court.

The grand jury did not indict Omar on complicity to possession of drugs, complicity to persons who sell dangerous drug charges and complicity to possession of drugs charges.

The grand jury also chose not to indict Cleland on charges of having weapons while under restrictions and selling / delivering / distributing / and possessing dangerous drugs.

According to court records, Cleland is scheduled for arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew D. Logan.

Cleland and two other ranked firefighters, Lt. Justin Graham and Capt. Chris Olson, were forced out of the department last spring following an investigation that arose after the April 12, 2020, death of Liberty firefighter / paramedic John Beard. Beard had died from an accidental drug overdose.

In March 2021, an arbitrator ruled in favor of Liberty firefighter Cathy Macchione, who had been demoted during the investigation, reinstating her to her prior rank as captain inspector.

The probe also led agents with the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force to raid Cleland’s Warner Road home last spring.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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