ELYRIA — Grafton Mayor Megan Flanigan is facing a misdemeanor drug possession charge for a pill found in the backseat of a Lorain County sheriff deputy’s cruiser on the night of her drunken driving arrest earlier this year.
Testing revealed that the pill is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, said North Ridgeville Prosecutor Toni Morgan, who is handling the case.
Those drugs are used to “prevent withdrawal symptoms when someone stops taking opioid drugs by producing similar effects to those drugs,” according to the National Institutes of Health’s website.
Morgan said she thought the misdemeanor drug charge, filed Tuesday in Elyria Municipal Court, was appropriate in this case.
“We’re going to charge it as a misdemeanor,” she said. “Anything else would be disproportionate.”
Dan Wightman, Flanigan’s defense attorney, said his client denies that the pill belonged to her.
“This is not her pill. She doesn’t know anything about it,” Wightman said. “She does not have an opioid addiction and does not use drugs.”
Flanigan has pleaded not guilty to DUI, failure to stop after an accident and failure to control charges stemming from a Sept. 28 incident in which Grafton police Officer Anthony Camera found the mayor’s damaged Chevrolet SUV on the side of the road near the intersection of Fox Run and Hunting Hollow around 3 a.m.
Camera called deputies because he thought he had a conflict of interest, although he informed deputies that he suspected Flanigan had been drinking, which she denied multiple times to Camera and other law enforcement that night, according to a dashboard camera video of the incident.
Flanigan insisted she didn’t know what was wrong with her damaged vehicle and said she wasn’t responsible for hitting a nearby fire hydrant. Pieces of her SUV were found near the hydrant, according to deputies.
In the video, Flanigan can been seen nearly falling several times during field sobriety tests, which deputies reported she failed.
She was arrested and taken to the Lorain County Jail, where she refused to take a breath test.
Sgt. Robert Perkins, who drove Flanigan to the jail, wrote in his report that he found the pill in a small plastic bag in the backseat of his cruiser, along with the headband, when he went back to the car to check for a cell phone Flanigan thought she had left in the vehicle.
“I will note that Ms. Flanigan was the only person that had access to this officers (sic) rear seat area, and the vehicle had been cleaned and checked by this officer prior to my shift,” Perkins wrote in his report.
Flanigan, who has apologized for her actions to Grafton Village Council, is due in Elyria Municipal Court next week.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.