Henry County

A former Henry County Sheriff’s deputy recently pleaded guilty to eight counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor in Henry County Common Pleas Court.

During his arraignment, Nicholas A. Pieracini, 39, of Liberty Center waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty to eight counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, two counts of which are second-degree felonies and six counts are fourth-degree felonies. Sentencing and sex offender classification will be held Oct. 20. Pieracini was released on his own recognizance under the condition he reports for all court hearings.

According to the plea agreement reached with Delaware County Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel, who is the special prosecutor in this case, Pieracini will be classified as a Tier 2 sex offender and is subject to an indefinite prison term of two years to eight years for each of the second-degree felony counts and a fine not to exceed $15,000 per count. For the fourth-degree felony charges, Pieracini could face a prison term of between six months and 18 months and a fine not to exceed $5,000.

On Sept. 11, 2020, Pieracini created, recorded, photographed, filmed, developed, reproduced or published two materials that show a minor participating or engaging in sexual activity, masturbation or bestiality, which are connected to the second-degree felony charges. From Sept. 11, 2020-March 5, 2021, Pieracini knowingly solicited, received, purchased, exchanged or possessed six materials that showed a minor participating or engaging in sexual activity, masturbation or bestiality, which are the fourth-degree felonies.

Henry County Sheriff Michael Bodenbender said he was notified earlier this year by an internet monitoring agency regarding inappropriate and possibly illegal activity from an internet protocol address that belonged to Pieracini.

“When I was made aware of it, I immediately put him on administrative leave and then, shortly after that, he turned in his resignation,” Bodenbender said.

Bodenbender said, after the initial notification, the investigation was turned over to a special detective at a different agency and the sheriff’s office was not involved.

“I’m very disappointed,” Bodenbender said. “I don’t know what the full investigation revealed, but obviously the charges were very serious.”

A court entry dated March 8 shows, following a motion by Henry County Prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers, Schiffel was appointed as special prosecutor for the case and the Henry County Prosecutor’s Office was relieved of any further participation. Judge Reeve W. Kelsey, a retired Wood County Common Pleas Court judge, is presiding over the case. Kelsey is temporarily assigned to Henry County Common Pleas Court following the retirement of Judge John Collier Sept. 1 as an appointment to fill Collier’s term has not yet been made by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Pieracini was employed by the sheriff’s office for just under 17 years and Bodenbender said he was aware of one minor discipline issue during that time.

“It was a minor offense, it had nothing to do with anything like this,” he said.

A message left for Schiffel was not returned as of press time.

E-mail comments to jenl@northwestsignal.net.

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