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Published: Wednesday, 5/5/2010

Judge erases felony record in 1999 school threat case

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Nicholas Arvanitis, at his arraignment in 1999, posted messages threatening his school after the Columbine killings. Nicholas Arvanitis, at his arraignment in 1999, posted messages threatening his school after the Columbine killings.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

Eleven years after his high-profile arrest for posting online threatening messages against his Sylvania school, Nicholas Arvanitis' name has been erased from the Lucas County Common Pleas Court system.

Arvanitis received a pardon from Gov. Ted Strickland in December for his 1999 convictions of inducing panic and possessing criminal tools.

A Common Pleas Court judge has now agreed to expunge his record. The decision means that Arvanitis' felony past is for the most part erased.

In his decision, released late Monday, Judge Frederick McDonald noted: "The defendant is not eligible to have his record expunged under Ohio expungement statutes." However, because Arvanitis had been pardoned of his crimes by the governor, he "is entitled to have his record expunged even though he does not meet the statutory requirements for expungement," the judge wrote.

Arvanitis, who is enrolled in a legal studies program overseas, responded to an e-mail inquiry that the decision was "absolutely excellent news."

Now 29, Arvanitis was a senior at Northview High School when he was arrested in April, 1999, for anonymously posting threatening language on a Web site that caused far-reaching panic and led to the shutdown of both Sylvania high schools.

The incident occurred one week after the rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which classmates Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

The Sylvania district closed its two high schools and authorities traced the Web site to Arvanitis.

An honor student with no previous disciplinary record, Arvanitis pleaded guilty to both charges. Judge McDonald sentenced him on Sept. 28, 1999, to four years of community control, including 90 days in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio. The youth also was ordered to pay $8,500 restitution to the school district for the cost of closing the high schools and of remaining open an extra day at the end of the year.

Assistant County Prosecutor Jeff Lingo, who prosecuted the 1999 case, said yesterday that although he disagreed with the governor's decision to grant the pardon, he respected the recent court opinion.

Although the record of Arvanitis is no longer public, it is still available in certain situations including criminal history checks for certain types of employment.



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