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Municipal court may hear store clerk’s case

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Nicholas Thompson

The Blade
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Two new underage-sales charges filed against a West Toledo liquor store clerk convicted of selling vodka to a 17-year-old might be transferred to Toledo Municipal Court.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Michael Goulding, who was randomly assigned the case of Nicholas Thompson, on Wednesday transferred the case to administrative Judge Stacy Cook with the request that the misdemeanors be heard in municipal court.

Judge Cook could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Thompson, 38, of 340 S. Reynolds Rd. was found guilty April 15 of selling or furnishing intoxicating liquor to a minor following a two-day jury trial in common pleas court.

He sold the vodka Feb. 1, 2013, to then-17-year-old Blake Pappas without asking for identification, and later that night a friend of Mr. Pappas, Brian Hoeflinger, 18, of Ottawa Hills, was killed in a drunken-driving crash after consuming the vodka at a party.

Common Pleas Judge James Bates immediately imposed the maximum sentence of six months in jail for Mr. Thompson, who had a prior conviction for underage sales last September. Judge Bates criticized the sentence Thompson received for the prior offense — a $150 fine — saying that municipal court judges don’t “take this offense very seriously.”

Defense attorney Rick Kerger said he was notified by Judge Goulding’s bailiff that Mr. Thompson’s new case would be transferred to municipal court. He said he had no problem with that.

“It involved the tragic death of a young man, and I can see the reason for bringing it to common pleas court,” Mr. Kerger said. “As a matter of respect for the young man’s life, I can understand that. As a matter of jurisprudence, liquor store clerks’ cases are handled in municipal court.”

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