A former Mahoning County Sheriff’s commander who reversed a drunken driving arrest for his friend, Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino, described Sciortino as “out of it and drunk” and drove Sciortino home in the auditor’s car.
Three pages of Sgt. T.J. Assion’s interviews with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office who conducted an investigation to see if Assion and other deputies improperly handled the May 26 traffic stop were released on Monday.
The investigation revealed impropriety by Assion and two other sheriff’s officers, who ignored normal protocol for Sciortino and effectively un-arrested him for drunk driving at Assion’s request.
The state attorney general is now investigating to see if further charges can be filed against Sciortino.
Assion was demoted from the lieutenant rank to sergeant, which included a $19,000 per year drop. Assion told investigators he became involved in the situation to get Sciortino out of a drunken driving charge.
Assion told investigators he was with his girlfriend at about 11:45 p.m. that night when he was called by Maj. Jeff Allen, who was later suspended 10 days by Sheriff Jerry Greene for failing to alert him to any “high-profile situation,” Greene previously said.
Allen alerted Assion that Sciortino was being arrested on U.S. Route 224 near Racoon Road for drunken driving. Assion said he believed Allen called him because he knew he and Sciortino were friends.
Assion then called Sgt. James Touville, who had pulled Sciortino over for erratic driving and had arrested Sciortino on suspicion of drunken driving. Sciortino, the report says, also told Touville he had a few alcoholic drinks that night.
Assion asked Touville if he could “work with” him on the arrest and give Sciortino a ride home.
The report says Assion asked Toueville how Sciortino was and Touville replied: “He is kinda messed up.”
Assion and Touville both decided Sciortino’s impairment was “medically related” though investigators noted no one, including Sciortino, asked for medical assistance, the report says.
Assion later told investigators no one brought that to his attention at the time and he idea was given to him days after.
Assion drove to where Sciortino was waiting inside Touville’s patrol car with his girlfriend. Assion drove Sciortino home in Scriortino’s car while his girlfriend followed in Assion’s vehicle.
Assion later told investigators he felt he made a “bad decision” that night. Assion, at his home, told Touville, whose disciplinary action has not yet been decided, to not cover anything up because Greene contacted the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, who appointed the Summit County investigators.