Guilty plea entered in city schools case

STEUBENVILLE – Hannah Rhinaman, 20, of Wintersville pleaded guilty Wednesday to theft of computer equipment from the Steubenville City School District and was allowed to enter drug treatment.

The charges against her will be dismissed if the successfully completes the program. If not, she will come back for a sentencing hearing before visiting Summit County retired Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove.

Rhinaman pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of felony theft.

She was one of six people indicted by a special grand jury investigating aspects of the Steubenville rape case.

The special grand jury held periodic sessions beginning in April to investigate if additional crimes were committed following the August 2012 Steubenville rape case that saw two Steubenville High School students convicted of the rape of a teenage Weirton girl.

Rhinaman’s defense attorney, Stephen Lamatrice, said she was evaluated by the Jefferson Behavioral Health System and found to be drug dependent. Lamatrice asked that Rhinaman be in treatment for a minimum of one year. Cosgrove didn’t state a time frame for the drug treatment during Wednesday’s hearing in the Jefferson County Courthouse. Lamatrice said Cosgrove will hold a hearing after one year to determine if Rhinaman successfully completed the program.

Anglea Canepa, assistant attorney general, said a restitution amount will be determined and filed with the court. Cosgrove ordered the amount be filed with the court within 30 days.

Cosgrove ordered Rhinaman to be under the supervision of the Jefferson County adult probation department, which will conduct random drug screenings.

Cosgrove told Rhinaman this “is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“You made a mistake and you need to learn from that mistake,” the judge said.

Lamatrice said Rhinaman has been attempting to gain employment but has had difficulty because of publicity surrounding the case. He said she is concentrating on her drug-treatment plan and is considering furthering her education. He said Rhinaman, who was indicted in late November, was assessed by the Jefferson Behavioral Health System for drug dependency in December.

Cosgrove told Rhinaman that Lamatrice had worked hard on her behalf.

Rhinaman’s father, William, 53, of Wintersville, was indicted by the special grand jury on charges of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

Rhinaman was charged with tampering with evidence by altering, destroying, concealing or removing evidence from Aug. 11, 2012, to April 25, 2013, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Rhinaman also is charged with attempting to stop the prosecution of another person by either concealing or destroying evidence and getting the person to withhold information or communicating false information from April 8 to Oct. 4.

The third count charges Rhinaman with obstructing official business from April 8 until Oct. 4.

The perjury charge claims Rhinaman made a false statement under oath to the special grand jury during a July 8 proceeding.

A pretrial hearing is set for March 28, with William Rhinaman’s trial scheduled for April 7 before Cosgrove.