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Cortez pleads ‘not guilty’

NEWARK- Flanked by lawyers, former Buckeye Lake Village Council member John Cortez pleaded “not guilty” to 25 charges Monday morning at the Licking County Justice Center. He is being held without bond. Cortez faces 23 counts of unlawful sexual relations with minors, one count of providing cocaine to minors, and a felonious weapons charge. Cortez’ lawyer, Elliott “Skip” van Dyne told Licking County magistrate Mattie Klein that his client pleaded not guilty “to each and every charge.”

Cortez’ was previously arraigned Feb. 28 on the weapons charge, where Klein posted his bond at $50,000. Cortez asked for a continuance on the rest of the charges because van Dyne wasn’t present for the Feb. 28 hearing. Klein said Cortez would be held without bond on the rest of the charges until the March 10 arraignment. Monday, Klein said Cortez’ bond issues would not change from the previous hearing, meaning he continues to be held without bond on the 24 sexually related charges and $50,000 bond on the weapons charge.

Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp said earlier that the sheriff’s department is still investigating where Cortez spent his time while he was on the run and who helped him financially or otherwise.

In a related issue, according to public records in Licking County Recorder’s Office, March 10 Cortez revoked power of attorney from Buckeye Lake resident Noel E. Joyce. According to the document, “John F. Cortez states under oath that he never signed said General Power of Attorney, and that his purported signature therein is a forgery.”

Cortez owns several properties in Buckeye Lake Village. Joyce used the power of attorney to collect rent and maintain Cortez’ properties in his absence. Joyce also transferred two of Cortez’ properties to himself while Cortez was on the run in December.

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