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Tallmadge Parks and Recreation manager awaits sentencing on trespassing charge

David W. Cooper changes plea, accepts deal from prosecution

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published: August 31, 2014 12:00 AM
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Stow -- City of Tallmadge Manager of Parks and Recreation David W. Cooper awaits sentencing next month on one count of criminal fourth-degree misdemeanor trespassing, to which he pleaded guilty in Stow Municipal Court Aug. 27.

Judge Kim Hoover is scheduled to sentence him Sept. 29. The maximum penalty he faces is six months in jail and a $250 fine, according to state law.

Cooper, 55, from Tallmadge, changed his original plea of not guilty to seven counts of trespassing to guilty on one count, in exchange for dismissal of the other six as part of a plea deal.

According to special prosecutor Myra Staresina Severyn, who handled the case on the city's behalf, Cooper accepted the plea deal minutes before his jury trial was to begin. The prosecution first made the offer when the charges were brought months ago, she said.

Cooper's attorney, Kevin Breen, of Fairlawn, said the agreement between the prosecution and his client was made after "considerable discussion."

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"We thought this is a sensible resolution to the situation, and the prosecution apparently did as well," he said.

Severyn also said the plea bargain was a "reasonable resolution."

"It is a very typical response to multiple charges like this for a first-time offender," she said.

Cooper also agrees to pay the costs associated with the dismissed charges.

The charges came after an investigation into allegations made by Summa Rehabilitation Services in March that Cooper continued to enter a restricted area of the Tallmadge Recreation Center that Summa leases after the facility was closed and after his supervisors at the city repeatedly ordered him not to.

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Through his attorney, Cooper said the allegations are "baseless" and a result of a "misunderstanding" because he was entering the secure physical therapy and sports health care facility to use the private restroom.

The city put Cooper on paid leave March 28 pending an internal personnel investigation and a separate police investigation.

Breen said Cooper plans on announcing his retirement from the city Sept. 1.

"He has enjoyed his service at Tallmadge. I think that it was a mutually enjoyable experience. He just believes it's time to move on," Breen said.

The city plans to replace Cooper as soon as possible, according to Law Director Megan Raber.

In an Aug. 27 email to the Express, she said the city hasn't received formal notice of Cooper's "method of separation" from the city. She declined further comment on his case.

Cooper joined the city in 2008 as manager of the Recreation Center. He was later made the manager of Parks and Recreation and makes an annual salary of $63,564, according to Finance Director Steve Shanafelt.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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