A Brunswick lawyer who lied to police and blamed a 2016 car crash on a Black man who didn’t exist was hit with a two-year suspension by the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Kenneth Lewis told authorities he and his then-girlfriend let an “unknown African-American man” drive them home from the Train Station Bar one night, only for the man to crash the car into a utility pole and flee the scene, Cleveland.com reported.
Lewis’ suspension comes on the heels of a recommendation by the Lorain County Bar Association, which sought disciplinary action against the lawyer following his June 2016 arrest. Now, Lewis won’t be able to apply to have his license reinstated until 18 months from now.
The alleged incident unfolded June 8, 2016, after Lewis and his girlfriend, another attorney named Heather Wilsey, left the Train Station Bar together around 1 a.m., court documents show. The crash occurred a short time later, after which the couple told Elyria police they’d met a stranger at the bar and allowed him to drive them home. They claimed the mystery driver fled the scene after the accident.
Surveillance footage police obtained from the bar showed only Lewis and Wilsey getting into Lewis’ car before leaving, however. No Black man was in sight.
The lawyer eventually fessed up, admitting it was Wilsey who had actually wrecked his car, leaving it inoperable. The two were arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, Court News Ohio reported. Wilsey was also charged with a DUI.
At his disciplinary hearing, Lewis denied ever telling police a Black man was driving his car, saying the entire lie was cooked up by Wilsey. He said he only affirmed his girlfriend’s story to police, telling officers, “it happened just like she said it did.” However, Lewis admitted to submitting a false written statement to police the next day, again blaming a fictitious Black man for the accident.
Lewis, who was involved in another alcohol-related crash with Wilsey just two months later, said he lied in order to protect his girlfriend. He pleaded no contest in the second accident and was sentenced to 10 days in the Lorain County jail and a year of probation, according to Court News Ohio.
As for Wisley, she died of an apparent drug overdose in 2017 before her case was adjudicated.