Former Conneaut councilman charged with numerous sex crimes enters guilty plea in court
ASHTABULA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - A change of plea hearing for Philip Garcia was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the Ashtabula County Courthouse.
Garcia did enter guilty plea Wednesday afternoon, May 13.
Only the judge and media were physically in court, everyone else was on Zoom.
Garcia will have to register as a sex offender.
Garcia remains out on bond until his sentencing, which has not been scheduled yet.
Garcia was a Conneaut councilman who owned a popular catering company and also officiated youth sports.
He is charged with multiple crimes including rape, compelling prostitution, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and bribery.
19 News first reported on this case in August 2018 when a Conneaut councilman was accused of raping five teenagers between 1997 and 2005 had been suspended from working with young athletes pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
The Cleveland 19 Investigative Team had learned Phillip Garcia’s officiating license has been suspended indefinitely by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Garcia began officiating youth sports in Northeast Ohio in 1973.
The Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office launched the investigation into Garcia in June after one of the alleged victims came forward. The Ashtabula County Prosecutor’s Office then referred the case to the Ohio Attorney General for prosecution.
According to the Attorney General, four of the alleged victims were employees of Phil’s Catering, an Ashtabula catering business owned by Garcia.
All of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 17 at the time of the alleged crimes.
In 2014, Garcia was inducted into the OHSAA Officiating Hall of Fame for his work officiating high school basketball, baseball, softball, football and volleyball games.
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