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Officer arraigned on theft charge

Two HRPD officers accused of pocketing money from traffic citations

A former police officer accused of taking money from people he pulled over for traffic violations was in court Wednesday.

Ronald Blanton

Ronald E. Blanton, 28, of 2400 Junior Furnace Powell Road, Franklin Furnace, pleaded not guilty in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to charges of tampering with evidence and theft in office.

Blanton and co-defendant Thomas S. Trent Jr., 22, of 2407 Argonne Road, Portsmouth, were both employed as police officers at the Hanging Rock Police Department at the time of the alleged crimes.

Thomas was indicted by the grand jury on identical charges, but was not in court Wednesday.

Lawrence County Assistant Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said the men were allegedly issuing traffic tickets, allowing people to pay for them in cash and then pocketing the money.

Both men are no longer employed with HRPD. Police Chief Chris Steed said Blanton resigned from Hanging Rock. Blanton was also employed for less than three months with the Coal Grove Police Department, Mayor Larry McDaniel said. The officer recently resigned from the CGPD, McDaniel said.

Trent had been suspended without pay from the Hanging Rock Police Department and has been terminated, Steed said.

Judge Charles Cooper set bond at $25,000 cash or surety and allowed him to post 10 percent of the amount. The judge also ordered that Blanton surrender his passport until the case is resolved.

A pretrial hearing has been set for May 18.