ELYRIA — A former Avon Lake fire captain will have to relinquish his firefighting certificates but won’t face jail time in connection with allegations he tried to blackmail a fellow firefighter into resigning from his job.
Capt. Glen Eisenhardt, 41, reached a plea agreement with the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office last week and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of coercion, attempted unauthorized use of property and attempted telecommunications fraud, according to court documents.
Eisenhardt originally was indicted on felony charges of extortion, unauthorized use of property and telecommunications fraud.
Defense attorney Dan Wightman said Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Raymond Ewers imposed a fine and a 180-day jail sentence but suspended both on a year of good behavior.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will has said by Eisenhardt surrending his certificates “he can no longer be a firefighter or paramedic, which will terminate his employment with Avon Lake Fire Department. The penalty he’s suffering is collectively the loss of his certificate and the termination of his job.”
Eisenhardt had been on administrative leave after the allegations against him were made, but Wightman has said Eisenhardt retired effective Monday and wasn’t terminated.
Eisenhardt, who was first hired as a firefighter in 2000, was named the city’s fire chief in December 2011, but he asked for a demotion a year later so he could spend more time with his children.
The alleged blackmail scheme began in February 2016 when Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Moore received a letter in the mail threatening to expose an alleged extramarital relationship unless he resigned or retired from the Fire Department by March 1, 2016, according to an affidavit seeking a search warrant for Eisenhardt’s electronic devices filed last year.
The letter also wanted Moore to convince Avon Lake City Council to eliminate his position, Terry Folley, an investigator with county Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office, wrote.
Moore received an email Feb. 17 from a sender that had identified himself with a name similar to an Avon Lake resident who had opposed tax efforts in the past.
Email and internet service provider records subpoenaed by investigators show the email account was created and accessed using a computer connected to an internet account used by the city’s fire union the day the message was sent. The same account was accessed from Eisenhardt’s home Feb. 18, 2016.
On Feb. 23, 2016, Moore received another email from the same address in which the sender complained that he had heard Moore would be taking some time off and demanded an explanation for the delay.
When Moore replied that he had a medical procedure scheduled, he received an email from a different email address that said only “DEADLINE APPROACHING,” Folley wrote. Internet records showed that the second email address had been accessed from Myrtle Beach, S.C., but the man who lived at the address told detectives he didn’t know anyone from the fire department and had had no visitors at the time the email was sent.
Moore received another email April 7, about a week after he announced he would retire in about a year that said the announcement “was inconsistent with the sender’s previous timeline,” Folley wrote. That email was sent from a third account that had been accessed from Eisenhardt’s home internet service April 4, authorities said.