LIMA — One of three men charged by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for various roles each allegedly played in the illegal transportation and dumping of scrap tires within the city of Lima pleaded guilty Tuesday morning.
John Schlesselman, 50, who owns and operates TJ’s Auto at 5250 Norfolk St., pleaded guilty in Lima Municipal Court to a charge of causing scrap tires to be illegally transported. He received a suspended 90-day jail sentence and was fined $1,000, with $750 of that total suspended.
Hearings were held Tuesday morning in Allen County Common Pleas Court for two others charged by the Attorney General’s Office for complicity in facilitating the illegal transport and dumping of scrap tires at sites in the southern part of the city. An additional Lima man sought in connection with the illegal dumping incidents has thus far eluded authorities.
Charles Farsht, 35, of Defiance, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he aided and abetted 37-year-old William Doug Gipson, of Lima — who remains at large and for whom an arrest warrant has been issued — by helping him illegally transport and dispose of scrap tires at two sites in the city.
A third defendant in the case, Jonathon White, 28, of Lima, previously entered pleas of not guilty to similar charges related to the illegal dumping of scrap tires. A closed-door pretrial hearing was held Tuesday morning in Common Pleas Court for White.
Farsht was indicted last month by an Allen County grand jury on four unclassified felonies for allegedly helping Gipson illegally transport and dispose of scrap tires at two Lima locations during the spring and summer of 2016.
Judge Jeffrey Reed told Farsht three of the counts against him involve complicity to the illegal transportation of scrap tires without a registration certificate. The remaining charge is complicity to the illegal open dumping of solid waste.
Prosecutors allege Farsht “did aid and abet” Gipson in transporting more than 10 scrap tires from TJ’s Auto to Gipson’s residence at 1402 Norval St. without obtaining a registration certificate from the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The Attorney General’s office alleges Farsht also helped Gipson transport “more than 10 scrap tires” from the Norval Street address and dispose of the tires in a vacant lot at the corner of Main and 12th streets on Lima’s south side.
That location on Monday revealed an over-grown, vacant lot with dozens of automobile tires visible from the street. The Norval Street address where Gipson reportedly resided is just a half-dozen blocks away.
The charges against Farsht are unclassified felonies which carry maximum penalties of up to $25,000, prison terms of two to 4 years, or both.
White also faces an unclassified felony charge of complicity to illegal dumping of solid waste for allegedly helping Gipson deposit “at least 50 scrap tires” at the vacant lot at the corner of Main and 12th streets in Lima. He entered a written plea of not guilty on Nov. 6.
Ken Egbert, assistant prosecuting attorney for the Attorney General’s environmental enforcement section, is the special prosecutor in the case. He declined all comment on the case Tuesday, citing office policy.