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The Courts

Teacher’s trial

RAVENNA — The trial for a West Branch teacher accused of sexual contact with a minor has been delayed again.

The criminal pretrial and jury trial for Matthew Thomas, 51, Wagner Road, North Benton, were both continued in Portage County court after a member of his household tested positive for Covid-19. The pretrial, which was set for Wednesday, is now scheduled for March 23 while the jury trial has been moved to April 6. The pretrial and jury trial were delayed in November, as well.

Thomas, a longtime soccer coach and history teacher at West Branch High School, was indicted by the Portage County grand jury in September on two counts of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony. He is accused of having sexual contact with a 10-year-old female over the first week of May 2015. The incident was not school-related, according to court officials.

Thomas is currently on paid administrative leave from the school.

Vettori appeal

YOUNGSTOWN — A portion of former Mahoning County Court Judge Diane Vettori’s appeal has been granted.

WKBN FirstNews is reporting a panel of visiting judges in the Seventh District Court partially ruled in favor of an appeal filed by Vettori, the judge in Sebring since 2002 who pleaded guilty to stealing several hundred thousand dollars from the estate of a client she once represented in a probate case.

The visiting judges ordered a ruling for Vettori to pay over $12,000 in interest to an estate case Vettori’s lawyers claimed was a “prejudgment” order be vacated but ruled against her claim that the judge in her probate case was not impartial.

Vettori, who has lost her law license, was sentenced in June 2019 to 30 months in federal prison. In a separate case in Mahoning County Probate Court, she was ordered to pay back over $185,000, plus the nterest.

The judges panel ruled there is no record of a hearing held on the matter of interest and ordered the issue be remanded back to a lower court for further action.

The panel also ruled there was no evidence the visiting judge, Thomas Swift, was impartial, and dismissed that part of the appeal.

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