WARREN - A former owner of nightclubs in Warren admitted to a probation violation Wednesday, but a judge also allowed him to transfer his probation case to authorities in Cuyahoga County.
Even though LaShawn Ziegler told Judge W. Wyatt McKay that he found a new place to live in Bedford, a probation officer asked that Ziegler never come back to Trumbull County.
''You mean you want to completely banish him from Trumbull County? I don't think I can do that,'' McKay chuckled while speaking to Greg Carroll, Ziegler's probation officer.
Ziegler's attorney, Dennis DiMartino, told the judge his client has children, other family members and rental property in the area.
But DiMartino and Ziegler huddled quickly and then agreed to furnish the court with paperwork that assures Ziegler will divest himself of any interest in the Sunset Lounge - which was at the center of the probation violation.
McKay found Ziegler, 39, guilty of the probation violation, which stated that the defendant was inside the Sunset, which opened in May at the intersection of Elm Road and East Market Street. Ziegler was sentenced to seven days in jail, which meant that he was released Wednesday with credit for time already served.
One of the conditions of the probation was to never enter the premises of a liquor establishment.
McKay redefined that condition to state that Ziegler wasn't allowed in the bar while it was open, but could still stock coolers and help manage the lounge before and after it closed.
Carroll said Ziegler has been seen in the bar while it was open for business and not just to stock the business and open and close up.
McKay told Ziegler that the court was simply trying to protect him and assure that he completes his probation with no other infractions.
''I can think of another word besides protect,'' DiMartino said.
Ziegler is due to be released from probation in April 2015. Any violations with a probation officer in Cuyahoga County is still sent back to McKay.
Two years ago, Ziegler was sentenced to five years' probation, ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and forfeit more than $13,000 after pleading guilty to nine felony counts in connection with automobile fraud and illegal drugs.
City officials in April 2008 boarded up Ziegler's Benji Brown's, a North Park Avenue bar and later an after-hours club, labeling the site a nuisance. A lawsuit against city officials over the after-hours club is pending with another judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Ziegler was also the past owner of the now-closed 77 Soul on Youngstown Road that became notorious for frequent visits by police.
The club was ordered closed by city officials in 2004, for improper usage.