AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A former Austintown Township trustee received a one-year prison sentence on Wednesday for a felony charge.
A little over a month after being acquitted on sex charges involving a Poland high school student, Steve Kent was back in court facing sentencing for tampering with evidence.
“And what you have standing before you is a 54-year-old man with no prior record,” said Attorney John Juhasz, speaking about his client.
In August, Kent was found guilty of resetting his cell phone to impede an investigation against him. Prosecutors had claimed the reset effectively erased potentially incriminating photos and videos
Kent was was immediately removed from his post as township trustee in Austintown. He was also fired from his job as a patrolman and school resource officer in Poland Township 18 months ago.
“He knew exactly what he was doing. He was a police officer. He swore to uphold the law,” said Special Prosecutor Kara Keating.
While the defense asked for probation in the case, prosecutors with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office argued Kent needed to go to prison.
When it was Kent’s turn to speak, he told the judge he was sorry for what he did.
“I embarrassed the uniform. I embarrassed my community. I apologize,” Kent said.
But Judge John Durkin told Kent his positions as a policeman and public servant required him to uphold higher standards.
“When our actions impact public trust, we’ve got a problem,’ Durkin said.
In the end, the judge said probation would not protect the public.
“That it would demean the seriousness of the offense,” Durkin said.
Instead, Durkin sentenced Kent to one year in prison. Juhasz said he’ll be filing an appeal. But for now, Kent is sitting in the county jail.
Kent was found not guilty of sexual misconduct in the case.