GALLIPOLIS — A former Gallipolis attorney was sentenced in the Common Pleas Court of Gallia County this week after he pleaded guilty late last year to two counts of forgery and two counts of theft.
John R. Lentes, 58, of Overland, Mo., and formerly of Crown City, was sentenced Monday to 60 months of community control and was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution during a hearing before presiding Judge Leonard Holzapfel, according to an entry filed with the Gallia County Clerk of Courts.
Lentes, who pleaded guilty to his four-count indictment during a hearing in November, is alleged to have forged the signature of Gallia County Common Pleas Judge D. Dean Evans between Nov. 1, 2004, and May 31, 2007, and also reportedly forged a common pleas court judgment entry between Nov. 1, 2004, and May 31, 2007.
The four-count indictment also outlines two charges of theft in which the defendant is alleged to have stolen cash from six victims between Sept. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2008, property valued at over $1,000, but less than $7,500; and, in a separate theft charge, the defendant reportedly stole more than $7,500, but less than $150,000, from two female victims between April 1, 2003, and Dec. 11, 2008.
Lentes, who served two terms as the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney from 1993-2001, later opened a practice in Gallipolis. He was disbarred in 2008 following a hearing before the Ohio Supreme Court after complaints were filed by a least three former clients who were represented by Lentes in civil matters between 2004 and 2007.
After an investigation, the state Supreme Sourt’s Board of Grievances and Discipline found that Lentes had been “dishonest, negligent and incompetent” in his representation of his clients.
In 2010, Lentes was arraigned in the Common Pleas Court of Gallia County and charged with one count of theft after he had allegedly stolen $9,760 in insurance money from a woman between December 2007 and January 2009.
A plea hearing was later held in this case and, after an inconsistency in the indictment and proposed written plea agreement was discovered, the defendant withdrew his proposed guilty plea. The state also later indicted its desire to dismiss the charge and re-indict the defendant at a later date.
Then-presiding Judge Fred W. Crow III, who was assigned to the case after Evans recused himself, later overruled the state’s motion to dismiss the case.
After an impending jury trial was continued several times, Kowalski again requested the court dismiss the case in April 2011. This second request, however, was based upon the fact that the victim would lack the ability to testify due to medical reasons.
The entry reads, “Based on her inability to testify, the state does not have sufficient evidence to proceed. Additionally, the state is aware of other incidents in which the defendant was involved in and is preparing to go to grand jury based on those events.”
Crow again denied the state’s motion for dismissal, but Crow later withdrew as trial judge due to medical reasons in an entry dated May 3, 2011.
The Ohio Supreme Court later assigned Paul Randall Knece, judge of the Pickaway County Court of Common Pleas, to Lentes’ case and, in a final entry filed in November 2011, Knece granted the state’s request to dismiss the case without prejudice.
A new indictment was filed against Lentes on Aug. 21, 2012, and signed by assistant Ohio attorney generals Marianne Hemmeter and Jennifer Brumby, who represented the state.
A summons was later filed for Lentes’ appearance. The defendant however, who was then living in Chesterfield, Mo., failed to appear for the scheduled arraignment on Oct. 26, 2012, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Lentes was subsequently arrested on the warrant in St. Louis County, Mo., on June 26, 2013. He was later transported on July 3 by a Gallia County sheriff’s deputy back to Gallia County to face the charges of the new indictment.
He subsequently appeared for an arraignment hearing with his retained counsel, Chuck Knight, and pleaded not guilty to two counts of forgery, both felonies of the fifth degree, one count of theft, a fifth-degree felony, and one count of grand theft, a felony of the fourth degree.
Lentes later posted a $1,000 bond for his own release from the Gallia County Jail.
During a plea hearing Nov. 20, Lentes pleaded guilty to all four counts of his indictment. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered to be completed by the Adult Probation Department.
During Monday’s hearing that was continued from an earlier scheduled hearing in January, the defendant was sentenced to five years probation. He was further ordered to pay restitution to the victims.
According to the judgment entry, the defendant was ordered to pay $62,000 to the first victim in this case, $75,000 to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Client Security Fund, $500 to the second victim, and $750 and $400, respectively, to the remaining four victims as listed in the entry.
He was further ordered to pay $50 a month to the clerk of court for probation services and will be subject to the supervision of the Adult Probation Department while on community control.