July 23, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
67°F

Ex-EMT sentenced for aiding teen runaway

MEDINA — A 23-year-old former emergency medical technician will spend six months in jail and five years on probation for helping his 15-year-old girlfriend run away to Florida.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier warned Maxwell D. Leibsla, who recently moved from Montville Township to Magnolia, in Stark County, that violating probation would land him in prison for a year.

Maxwell D. Leibsla, 23, right, is sentenced Monday to six months in jail and five months probation for helping his 15-year-old girlfriend run away to Florida. Also pictured is Leibsla’s attorney, Kevin P. Ondrey. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

As part of Leibsla’s probation, Collier ordered him placed on drug and alcohol monitoring after his release from jail. He also barred Leibsla from seeing the girl he helped cross state lines, as well as any other minor.

Leibsla was charged with interference with custody, a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to a year in prison. He pleaded no contest to the charge May 23.

He told the judge in court Monday he met the girl, Jessica Kollar, over Facebook through a mutual friend, and they started dating after meeting face to face.

Her family became uncomfortable with them dating, Leibsla said, but they continued to see each other.

He said Kollar called him one day to say she was unhappy with her home life and wanted to run away. He tried to convince her out of it, he said, but she persisted.

“So I told her if I couldn’t change her mind, I was going with her,” Leibsla told the judge.

Collier asked him if he saw what was wrong with that picture.

“You can’t be helping a 15-year-old girl run away,” Collier said. “Because then you’re some strange man from everyone else’s perspective.”

Leibsla blamed his decision on manic depression and thyroid problems, which were diagnosed and treated after the couple was arrested in February in Lake Worth, Fla.

“What I did was very irresponsible,” he said. “In the moment, I was not myself.”

Kollar’s family alerted police in January that she was missing. They said they believed she ran away with Leibsla. Kollar contacted friends to say she was OK, but refused to say where she was.

Medina police detectives tracked the couple to Florida, and Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies arrested them Feb. 2.

County Prosecutor Dean Holman said police looked into whether there was sexual conduct between the couple, but he said his office decided not to prosecute because the results were inconclusive.

“The defendant consistently denied sexual conduct,” Holman said, “and the girl gave inconsistent answers.”

Leibsla was a part-time volunteer emergency medical technician with the Sharon Township Fire Department, but was fired after he was convicted.

He faces an additional charge in Medina Municipal Court, which accuses him of contributing to the delinquency of a minor — this time a 16-year-old Medina boy.

According to police, Leibsla — who was free on 10 percent of a $25,000 bond — was stopped on North Huntington Street in Medina at about 4 a.m. June 16 on suspicion that he was driving drunk.

A breath test showed Leibsla was below the legal limit, and police cited the boy for violating the city’s midnight curfew.

Medina police Lt. David Birckbichler said Leibsla was not a relative of the boy and the incident was not related to the case involving the girl.

Leibsla was charged a few days later and a bench warrant was issued June 28. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

He and his attorney, Kevin P. Ondrey, said they were unaware of the warrant until Monday morning.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.