WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Commissioner Niki Frenchko was arrested Thursday during the commissioners’ weekly meeting and was taken to the jail in handcuffs.
The arrest came while Frenchko was responding to a letter written by Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe, read by the clerk during the meeting. Frenchko posted live video from the meeting on her Facebook page, which shows the arrest.
In the letter, Monroe asked Frenchko for a public apology in response to an email she read in a meeting last month. That email, sent to Frenchko from a former inmate’s mother, claimed the inmate was denied requested medical treatment at the jail.
The full email can be read below:
Dear Miss Frenchko,
I have a serious complaint regarding the medical neglect that prisoners are given in the Trumbull County Jail when incarcerated. My son was booked in the Trumbull County jail on 04/18/2022 at 7:00pm. During this time he had 3 documented requests for antibiotics, he was very ill, these requests obviously were not granted. There is a recorded call to his friend Jennifer on May 7th approximately 9:29 pm where he states he is really ill and is receiving no medical treatment. Prisoners are someone’s child, they are human and regardless of why they are in custody their health should be very important. My son was released to Neocap on 05/23/2022 and on 05/26/2022 rushed to hospital because he is throwing up and not able to speak or walk. I am sorry but this is unacceptable. As a result of this neglect he is in ICU at Trumbull Hospital with Streptoccus pneumoniae meningitis which is life threatening. I was called by the hospital asking me if my son’s heart stops do I want him saved, the next question was if my son stops breathing, do I want him put on a ventilator, – I am sorry but something needs to change. I am pretty sure the jail is aware of this situation because I was told the jail was being cleaned yesterday 05/26/2022 one day after he was rushed to the ER. I am going to seek legal counsel if something is not done.I am writing this letter to you because I know you will not sweep this under the rug like others.
Teresa M Crew
Monroe says the accusation was false since the inmate never requested medical attention.
In an interview after she was released from jail, Frenchko said her arrest was politically motivated.
“There’s no other explanation for it. We can’t get the deputies to come up to monitor our meetings. We’ve asked them on numerous occasions, and they say, no, they don’t want to get involved, but because they were reading that letter today asking for a public apology, that I would not give,” Frenchko told First News. “And then when I started to respond to that letter… then I was also interrupted by Commissioner Cantalamessa and Fuda, they came right for me, the deputies for the sheriff, to whom I would not apologize. And they did what they did. It was purely political.”
Monroe said that isn’t the case.
“Our deputies gave her more latitude than a normal person from the public in a meeting, who should have typically removed someone from the meeting immediately for the disruptions that she caused,” Sheriff Monroe said. “What she did violated the law, and she forced our deputies to take official action.”
The charge against Frenchko is disturbing a lawful meeting, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. She was booked into the Trumbull County Jail and released with a summons to appear in Warren Municipal Court on Friday.
Friday, Warren Municipal Court Judge Terry Ivanchak is referring the case to the Ohio Supreme Court due to any potential conflicts of interest.
Fellow Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa called the situation unfortunate and embarrassing for the board and county.
“To talk about something that is unfounded or make something that is not necessarily true into something that’s true, we can’t do that with other elected officials,” he said.
Frenchko said her constituents should be outraged by her arrest.
“I think that the people who elected me should be absolutely outraged that when I do what I’m elected to do, which is expose the truth to say what’s going on about these situations that are normally swept under the rug, that they should be outraged that I’m getting treated the way I am for doing what they elected me to do,” she said.