Suspect in OD cop case seeks to vacate plea

LISBON — A South Euclid man accused of being involved in the fentanyl overdose of East Liverpool patrolman Chris Green was scheduled to appear for sentencing in Common Pleas Court Friday afternoon, but his attorneys have filed a motion to vacate his plea.

Cortez Collins, 26, is currently represented by Marcus Sidoti, but on Friday defense attorney Eric Dysert filled in for Sidoti. Prior to Sidoti, Collins was represented by attorney Mark Mariotti, who is currently facing a disciplinary hearing before the Board of Professional Conduct of the Ohio Supreme Court later this year.

Collins pleaded guilty on July 31 to tampering with evidence and assault, but failed to appear for a subsequent hearing on Oct. 29. His sentencing hearing was reset for Dec. 14 and Sidoti registered as Collins’ new defense attorney on Dec. 12, asking for a continuance.

Sidoti has now filed a motion requesting for Collins to be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart said he will be opposed to the motion, noting it is late coming. He noted Collins has been trying to negotiate a better deal ever since he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Judge Megan Bickerton requested Weikart to file his objections within the next two weeks. She also requested a transcript of the plea hearing, which was heard by her predecessor, Judge C. Ashley Pike. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for March 29.

The charges were for attempting to conceal fentanyl during a traffic stop on May 12, 2017, which while on duty Green came in contact with and began to overdose. Green was revived by four doses of Narcan. Collins and co-defendant Justin Buckel were both in the vehicle during the traffic stop.

Buckel, 26, Avondale Avenue, East Liverpool, was later sentenced to 30 months for the same charges of tampering with evidence and assault.

Collins and Buckel were both also charged in connection with the Operation Big Oak indictment.