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Former HR officer pleads, gets three years


A former Hanging Rock police officer arrested in an alleged traffic ticket scheme pleaded guilty to the charges against him Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Thomas S. Trent, 23, of 2407 Argonne Road, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to one count of theft in office and one count of tampering with evidence. Judge Charles Cooper sentenced Trent to a total of three years in prison.

Trent was one of two Hanging Rock officers accused of pulling over motorists, writing tickets for traffic violations and pocketing the money.

Ronald Blanton, 28, of 2400 Junior Furnace Powell Road, Franklin Furnace, pleaded no contest to the same charges in October 2011. Cooper sent Blanton to prison for three years as well.

The two men were arrested last year after a six-month investigation by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office. Blanton and Trent were accused of targeting out-of-state motorists and fining them for traffic violations. The motorists then paid the two officers, who kept the money instead of turning it into the police department.

Also Wednesday, Walter Warner, 41, of 911 Chestnut Drive, Ashland, Ky., pleaded guilty to one count of forgery. Cooper sentenced him to six months in prison. Warner was one of 11 people indicted after a U.S. Secret Service investigation into payroll check forgery.