NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Commissioner Michele “Niki” Frenchko has had her criminal case dismissed.
Frenchko’s attorney Dave Betras said that her case involving a charge of disrupting a lawful meeting has been dropped. Portage County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Raymond Srp filed the dismissal of the charge, noting that there was “insufficient evidence to proceed.”
“We believe this is exactly what took place at this meeting, and we intend to hold those responsible no matter their position, whether they be a clerk, whether they be a sheriff’s deputy or whoever. We’re gonna hold them accountable…This is the United States of America, not a dictatorship where despots like Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Mohammed bin Salman and Kim Jong-un slap their political opponents in irons and throw them in jail or put ’em against the wall,” said Betras.
Frenchko’s arrest came on July 7, while Frenchko was responding to a letter written by Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe, read by the clerk during the meeting. Frenchko posted a 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.
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. Monroe denied that, saying deputies gave her more latitude than a normal person, saying they would have been removed from the disruptions that she caused.
“What she did violated the law, and she forced our deputies to take official action,” he said in July.
“I was arrested for exercising freedom of speech while I was doing my job as I was elected to do…Jailing those with opposing views should never happen in a free society…I intend to sue every official and employee of the ‘good ol’ boys club’ who schemed to jail me…getting this case dismissed was the first step to that,” said Frenchko.
She and Betras said they will now consider filing a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming her rights to free speech were violated.
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