ELYRIA — Two lawyers who practice in Lorain County are facing criminal charges for allegedly blaming a black man, who police later determined didn’t exist, for a car crash they were involved in earlier this month.
Elyria police were called to East Avenue and Fourth Street about 1:15 a.m. June 9 for a report of a 2012 Acura that had crashed into a utility pole. At the time they spotted Kenneth Lewis and Heather Wilsey, who are both white, walking away and asked if they had been in the car, according to a report of the incident.
Lewis, 42, told police that he and Wilsey were at the Train Station Bar and were too intoxicated too drive, but they met a black man who told them he would drive them.
Lewis told police that he got into the back of the Acura, which he owned, and Wilsey got into the front passenger seat of the vehicle. The black man got behind the wheel and drove south on East River Street before turning west onto Fourth Street, according to Lewis’ account.
The Acura went through the intersection at East Avenue and struck the utility pole before hitting the curb, Lewis said. The report said the car had heavy damage to the right side and the tire and rim were destroyed, rendering the car inoperable.
After the crash, Lewis told officers, the black man, whom he described as wearing a red baseball cap, a dark shirt and camouflage shorts, ran from the scene.
Wilsey, 26, and Lewis both told police that neither of them had driven the car. Wilsey also told officers that she knew the black man and that she would try to get him to come back. When she couldn’t get in touch with him, she said she would talk to a friend and get the man’s name to police the next night.
Officers told the pair that they didn’t believe the story and police later went to the Train Station Bar and got surveillance footage of Lewis and Wilsey leaving the bar.
Police “observed that Heather and Mr. Lewis were not being truthful and that Heather drove away from the Train Station Bar and that no (black male) drove them away from the bar,” the report said. “Heather and Mr. Lewis’s attempt to deceive the Officers from the real truth that (H)eather was highly intoxicated and that she drove away from the bar with Mr. Lewis as a passenger in the car.”
The report doesn’t say whether either Lewis or Wilsey were given tests to determine whether they were intoxicated. Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said Friday he was unfamiliar with the case and couldn’t say whether alcohol tests were administered.
Lewis came to the Police Department on June 10 and completed a written statement that the report described as “deceptive” and he was arrested and charged with obstructing official business.
Wilsey was charged with obstructing official business and arrested at the police station on June 14.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them during appearances last week in Elyria Municipal Court, where a visiting judge is being brought in to handle the case.
Elyria court records indicate that Lewis has several traffic offenses in his past, including convictions for failure to maintain physical control and weaving stemming from a 1997 DUI arrest. Wilsey was fined $120 for a registration violation in 2009.
Lewis’s attorney, JD Tomlinson, declined to comment on the case. Wilsey’s defense lawyer, Mike Kinlin, also largely declined to discuss the matter.
“I haven’t seen all the evidence yet, we’re still getting discovery,” Kinlin said.
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