Defense attorneys cited the complexity of the case and the extensive amount of records and documents.

CANTON  A former Stark County doctor is scheduled to go on trial this spring for allegations of running a pill mill.

Stark County Common Pleas Judge Kristin Farmer scheduled the trial of Frank D. Lazzerini for May 6.

Farmer granted a limited extension, formally known as a time waiver, to Lazzerini, whose trial had been set for Monday. Defense attorneys cited the complexity of the case and the extensive amount of records and documents.

Besides setting a trial date, Friday's hearing focused on the defense motion to suppress evidence seized during police raids at Lazzerini's medical office in Jackson Township and home. The motion to suppress also applies to evidence obtained during subsequent searches of cellphones and electronic devices.

In February, a grand jury indicted Lazzerini of 272 felony counts, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter; dozens of counts of drug trafficking in various medications, including opioids; 86 counts of illegal processing of drug documents; and other charges.

The Stark County Prosecutor's Office accuses Lazzerini of improperly prescribing pain medication and being responsible for the deaths of at least two people. He's pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held at the Stark County Jail on a $5 million bond.

Farmer ruled in August on portions of the motion to exclude evidence, deciding probable cause existed to issue the search warrants allowing the police raids.

Friday's hearing focused on the motion to suppress evidence tied to confidential informants cited in the affidavits supporting the warrants.

Following arguments by the defense and prosecution, Farmer said she would take the motion under advisement and issue a written ruling later.

Opposing arguments

Megan Starrett, an assistant Stark County prosecutor, argued that information gathered by the confidential informants has been independently verified by other sources.

She cited text messages where Lazzerini referred to his medical office as a "cash cow." Starrett said the evidence gathered involves allegations Lazzerini prescribed a "high level" of narcotics.

Starrett said in court that information provided by the confidential informants was reliable. Undercover work recorded visits to the doctor's office both with audio and visually, she said.

The investigation involved other law enforcement agencies, including the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Starrett said. Even without the work of confidential informants, "there's a lot of information verifiable in the affidavit," Starrett told Farmer.

In May, Lazzerini's attorneys filed the original motion seeking to exclude evidence, arguing the affidavits by a Jackson Township police officer made "deliberately or recklessly false statements and omits material facts that were necessary to adequately assess the existence of probable cause."

At Friday's hearing, defense attorney Donald Malarcik said at issue was whether information provided by confidential informants was verified and corroborated.

The investigator didn't independently verify some of what was stated in the affidavits, Malarcik said, referring to those instances as "naked allegations by a confidential source."

Starrett told the court a confidential informant said 70 to 90 percent of Lazzerini's patients were seeking pain medication, which she said was independently verified in reports.

Also at Friday's hearing, Samuel Kirk was appointed as a special assistant prosecutor from the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

Kirk will only be involved in a small portion of the case, assisting the Stark County Prosecutor's Office.

Additionally, the judge scheduled a final pretrial for March 22.

Reach Ed at 330-580-8315

and ed.balint@cantonrep.com

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