July 1, 2016

Mostly clear

Charges reduced against ex-owner of cigar shop

MEDINA — A 50-year-old Medina man had four felony charges reduced to two misdemeanors Monday after pleading guilty to theft in connection with avoiding tobacco taxes on his cigar store.

Philip Labondano, of the 1000 block of Continental Drive, was accused of avoiding taxes in 2009 and 2010 at the Medina Cigar Co., 307 E. Washington St. The shop is under new management, and its name since has been changed to Medina Cigar and Tobacco Co.

Philip Labondano

Philip Labondano

Scott Gardner

Scott Gardner

Labondano and a co-defendant, 39-year-old East Cleveland police Detective Scott Gardner, were charged in November with four felonies: records tampering, interference with inspections, forgery and tobacco trafficking with the intent to avoid taxes.

Labondano’s charges were reduced to theft and attempted forgery, first-degree misdemeanors. He faces up to six months in jail on each charge — down from as much as seven years in prison under the original charges.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier will sentence Labondano on May 27.

Gardner is scheduled for trial the same day before county Common Pleas Judge L. James Kimbler.

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

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.