Two Wellington brothers have been found guilty of assault stemming from a 2014 attack at Findley State Park.
Thomas Denes, 37, and Todd Denes, 34, assaulted Larry Sugaski, a jury determined Sept. 16 after the state argued they caused serious physical harm including a concussion to the victim.
Jurors convicted the brothers of misdemeanors but were unable to reach a verdict on felony counts. Todd Denes was also convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
A separate civil case was settled in favor of Zugaski for an undisclosed amount, according to court records.
Brett Murner, Thomas Denes’ lawyer, said the brothers never denied attacking Sugaski.
“The fact of the matter was and a jury of our peers found there was no serious physical harm,” he said. “We took full responsibility for our actions from day one but it was over-indicted, if you will. I think what resonated with the jury was that the medical records didn’t bear out the enhanced charges.”
A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in Lorain County Jail.
“This is nothing to be taken lightly,” Murner said. “As I indicated to the jury in my opening statement, the actions were indefensible but it was not felony conduct.”
According to Zugaski, he found the brothers fighting with each other on Jones Road the night of the attack. When he stopped to offer help, they threw rocks at his truck and began chasing him in their vehicle.
The chase led to Findley State Park where Sugaski hoped to find a ranger on duty, he said. After seeing no one in the ranger station, he got out of his truck and attempted to talk to the Denes brothers, who instead attacked.
He was punched and kicked in the head before Thomas Denes got in Zugaski’s truck, rode across a grassy area, and then abandoned it, prosecutors said.
Zugaski said the brothers also bumped into his car while pulling into Findley and taunted him throughout the incident, including asking him whether he’d learned his lesson.
“We always were firmly convinced that the victim exaggerated his injuries in order to get a financial benefit from the Denes brothers and their company,” said Craig Weintraub, Todd Denes’ lawyer. “In fact it was true that after the civil lawsuit was settled, the victim stopped seeing any doctor and his injuries were miraculously healed.”
Weintraub and Brett Murner’s brother, Barry Murner, represented the brothers in the civil case.
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 21.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
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