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Former Bazetta chief gets misdemeanor case sealed

WARREN — A former Bazetta police chief’s 20-year legal odyssey through two Ohio courts to get his convictions from more than 27 years ago sealed made another turn last week when a Trumbull County judge approved the expungement of a misdemeanor conviction.

Reggie Potts appeared before Judge W. Wyatt McKay to expunge a tampering with records misdemeanor conviction from 1994.

However, assistant prosecutor Diane Barber said Potts is not eligible by state law to have his 1993 conviction on theft in office and falsification sealed because the theft-in-office charge is a third-degree felony.

At the hearing Wednesday, McKay said he will seal the 1994 misdemeanor case against Potts if he paid an outstanding balance of $60 in court costs. Immediately after the hearing, Potts and his attorney Richard Parsons visiting the county clerk of courts office to pay the debt.

Parsons said his client has had trouble gaining employment because of his conviction that sent him packing from the Bazetta Police Department.

“He had to start his own construction company in 2001,” Parsons said.

The now 69 year-old Potts works as a part-time consultant for Livi Steel working on workers’ compensation cases.

“He also volunteers for various area charities and belongs to St. Mary’s Church,” Parsons said in noting his client has stayed out of trouble for more than 25 years.

On Dec. 12, 1994, McKay sentenced Potts in both cases to suspended jail terms. He also was given 60 days of house arrest and five years of probation.

Potts first tried to have his record expunged in 2000, according to a document written by Appellate Judge Tim Cannon. McKay found that the convictions were all part of the same act — which occurred between 1987 and 1989 while Potts was chief. McKay then ordered the records sealed, but the 11th District Court of Appeals reversed that decision, citing Potts’ ineligibility because he was not a first offender as defined by state law.

In 2011, Potts again attempted to have his record sealed, arguing McKay has the power to do so “in unusual and exceptional circumstances” regardless of state law requirements. This time, McKay denied the request, which was upheld by the 11th District judges. Again in 2017, the trial court denied and the judgment affirmed the decision not to seal Potts’ records.

Another attempt was made on May 6, 2019, to seal Potts record, but again was rebuffed by McKay and the 11th District Court.

Potts had been Bazetta Township chief from 1978 until 1993.

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