2008-05-24 / News

Cortez friend freed on $50,000 bond

By Scott Rawdon

NEWARK- Noel Joyce, a Glenford resident accused of aiding former Buckeye Lake Village Council member John Cortez, was released from the Licking County Justice Center on $50,000 bond Monday. He was arraigned Friday afternoon at the justice center, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of third degree felonious perjury and fifth degree felonious obstruction of justice.

Licking County detective Chris Slayman said previously that Joyce's charges stem from his alleged cooperation with Cortez' flight from justice. Cortez was eventually apprehended in Myrtle Beach, SC.

To review, Cortez is charged with 23 counts of unlawful sexual contact with minors, one count of providing cocaine to three minors, and a felonious weapons charge. Police raided Cortez' home Nov. 8 and found that Cortez, already a convicted felon, illegally possessed weapons. At that time, Cortez had no additional charges and was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. The investigation into the unlawful sexual conduct charges was still in progress. Cortez fledNov. 29 after being indicted on the 23 sexual conduct charges and the drug charge. He was apprehended Feb. 13 in Myrtle Beach, SC after nearly two months of hiding from authorities. Cortez is being held without bail in Licking County Jail where he awaits trial.

Slayman said authorities suspect Joyce lied to a grand jury when he was questioned about "aiding and abetting" Cortez during his flight from justice; authorities believe Joyce provided Cortez with money and supplies while he was a fugitive. For a short time, Joyce was considered a fugitive from justice when he failed to attend an arraignment hearing.

Joyce was located at his aunt's home in Columbus May 14, where he claimed he was recovering from illness and unaware that authorities were looking for him. Police tried to locate him at his Glenford home in Perry County May 9, but he wasn't there.

Licking County Assistant Prosecutor Tracy Van Winkle said the perjury charge carries a maximum five-year jail term and the obstruction of justice charge carries a one-year maximum for a total of six years of potential jail time, if convicted.

She said Monday that "99.99 percent of the time" suspects will plead not guilty to charges when they first appear in court to give their attorneys time to review charges and circumstances. Van Winkle wasn't sure if Joyce's aunt would face charges for harboring a fugitive. "At this point we don't know what she knew or didn't know," she said, adding that the investigation into Cortez' case is ongoing.

The current charges against Joyce are not related to Cortez' claim that Joyce forged a power of attorney to seize control of Cortez' home and commercial properties when Cortez fled. Cortez' mother now has control of those properties. Van Winkle said the forgery issue is a civil matter.

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