CUYAHOGA FALLS — A State Road pizza restaurant owner is appealing his conviction for firing a gun while confronting another man in a parking lot near his restaurant in August 2018 after the other man stole money from a tip jar at the restaurant.
According to court records, a notice of appeal was filed Sunday in the Ninth District Court of Appeals on behalf of Center Avenue resident Jeffrey A. Straughan, 53.
In July, a jury convicted Straughan, owner of the State Road East of Chicago restaurant, as well as an East of Chicago restaurant on Norton Road in Stow, of second-degree felony assault with a gun specification; third-degree felony improper discharge of a firearm on prohibited premises with a gun specification; and first-degree misdemeanor aggravated menacing.
Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison Breaux sentenced Straughan to five years in prison, with eligibility for judicial release after 42 months, on Aug. 26. According to the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, the maximum possible sentence was 11 years and prosecutors sought a seven-year sentence.
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Straughan is currently incarcerated in the Lorain Correctional Institution.
Michael B. Washington, Straughan’s attorney in the appeal, said Tuesday that he has requested court documents, including transcripts of Straughan’s trial, and once he has been able to review them, specific arguments for the appeal will be filed in a brief. These include potential or alleged errors made by the trial court.
"The assignments of error or questions regarding what errors may be appealed has yet to be determined and that will be determined after a full review of the transcript," said Washington.
Prosecutors said that on Aug. 14, 2018, Straughan confronted a 38-year-old Akron man who had just stolen one dollar from a tip jar at the restaurant, then pulled out a gun and fired it in the man’s direction at Portage Crossing Shopping Center. No one was injured.
Police Capt. Steve Guldeman previously said that an investigation determined Straughan fired his .45-caliber handgun at an upward angle from an Arby’s restaurant’s parking lot on the east side of State Road at around 6:30 p.m. and the bullet traveled across the road in the direction of the Cathedral Buffet restaurant. Guldeman said a search was made, but the bullet was not found.
John Chapman, Straughan’s trial attorney, previously said the Akron man admitted during testimony at Straughan’s trial that he assaulted Straughan and then came at him in a threatening manner, prompting Straughan to pull out the gun and fire it.
According to Stow Municipal Court records, the Akron man later pleaded guilty to first-degree misdemeanor theft and was fined $100, of which $75 was suspended.
Straughan, a Marine Corps veteran, was honored along with his wife in 2015 when Broad Boulevard was temporarily renamed in their honor for work they have done in the community to help people in need, including donating toys and other supplies, feeding the homeless in the restaurant and providing help to other veterans.
Chapman said he believed people expressing support for Straughan, both before and during his sentencing hearing, was a factor in Breaux handing down the minimum sentence.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.