MOUNT VERNON — A Marion man pleaded guilty Tuesday to running from police after his arrest on an importuning charge.

Joshua A. Lee, 31, pleaded guilty in Knox County Common Pleas Court to charges of escape and importuning. In exchange for Lee’s guilty pleas, Knox County Prosecuting Attorney Chip McConville dismissed a charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a first-degree misdemeanor.

McConville has made a sentencing recommendation of 18 months, with the possibility of release into a community corrections facility after 12 months.

The charges stem from Aug. 7. According to court records, Lee attempted to travel to Knox County to meet a 15-year-old girl, who was actually a Knox County Sheriff’s detective. Lee had been exchanging texts that were sexual in nature with the detective.

Lee didn’t make it to Knox County. Setting out on a bicycle from Marion for the meeting, Lee got tired during the ride and texted the ‘girl’ to meet him in Morrow County. Officers met Lee at a gas station and placed him under arrest on the importuning charge.

While Lee was handcuffed, he ran into a cornfield and eluded officers. Lee was apprehended later while trying to get into an occupied home.

The importuning charge carries a tier I sex offender classification. Lee asked Wetzel if being a sex offender will keep him from residing with his children, and Wetzel said there is no restriction from living with biological children.

Wetzel ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Nov. 28.

Also Tuesday, Frank L. Lewis, 54, Mount Vernon, entered a no contest plea to one count of aggravated possession of drugs. Lewis’ attorney, Public Defender John Pyle, said the plea was entered pending appeal of a motion to suppress a hearing held previously in common pleas court.

According to McConville, Lewis was pulled over for a traffic stop in Mount Vernon in November 2017 and found to be in possession of 3.2 grams of meth.

Wetzel ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Nov. 28.


Nick Sabo: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews




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