Former Buckeye Lake Council member arrested
By Scott Rawdon
NEWARK- Former Buckeye Lake councilman John Cortez turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning after a warrant was issued for his arrest Friday.
Police raided Cortez' home at 4796 Walnut Road Thursday afternoon. According to the Licking County Sheriff's Department, his home was searched after the department received information that Cortez, 41, may be involved in inappropriate relations with a minor.
Sheriff Randy Thorp said during the raid, officers found three firearms in Cortez' home. Cortez was charged with possessing weapons under disability, a third degree felony; it's a felony for Cortez to possess weaponry because he was convicted of a burglary in 1991. A third degree felony carries a potential eight year jail term.
Sheriff's Department Sergeant Tom Brown said Tuesday that Cortez is currently being charged with only the possession of weapons violation, but Brown said a grand jury may decide to press further charges against the former council member as the case progresses. "He's not been charged officially with anything else," said Brown.
Cortez was arraigned at Licking County Municipal Court Monday afternoon, where he was released on his own recognizance after posting $5,000 bond.
Cortez was into his second term on the village council when he was dismissed from council in August for missing eight meetings within a year, which, according to the Buckeye Lake Village Charter, is grounds for termination. He was chair of the safety committee at the time of his termination.
Buckeye Lake Police Chief Ron Small said Cortez' arrest is being handled by the sheriff's officebecause Cortez is a former village council member.
Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster issued the following statement: "Even though Mr. Cortez has not been on council for some time, I am saddened by how this will likely be construed by the public and how it will negatively reflectupon the Village of Buckeye Lake.
"We as the village government have worked very hard to improve the image of our village but have to work with those individuals elected by the voters.
"There are individuals in every community whose actions and deeds sometime reflect poorly upon that community. We hope that the media and public will be able to differentiate between a person who previously served on our council and our council as a whole.
"We are confidentthat Sheriff Thorp's officewill continue to conduct a fair, professional and thorough investigation," said Foster.