East Palestine Residents Charged with Stealing from Assistance Program

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – Three more East Palestine residents are facing felony charges in Columbiana County for alleged schemes to steal money from a Norfolk Southern assistance program after the Feb. 3, 2023, train derailment.

Scott Meyer, 47, East North Avenue, was charged with grand theft and forgery, both fourth-degree felonies, for allegedly stealing $24,947 from the program by forging a lease agreement for MedStar Ambulance without the company’s authority to do so. Meyer is accused of continuing to collect reimbursement on that lease from April until late September.

Lauren Fegert, 39, South Street, was charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing nearly $15,900. Authorities claim she provided fictitious and altered hotel receipts from April through early June.

Johnna Cozza, 44, West Martin Street, was charged with both grand theft and forgery for allegedly claiming to have signed a rental lease agreement to pay $300 per day for an apartment and illegally defrauding the railroad out of $7,950 in May and June.

The three are the latest to be indicted by a Columbiana County grand jury regarding alleged theft from Norfolk Southern, which set up a Family Assistance Center in the days after the train derailment in the village. Through November, Norfolk Southern had reported the Family Assistance Center had provided more than $20.7 million in direct financial assistance to families.

Five other people were previously charged, and more than $134,000 has been reported stolen through the assistance program.

Pictured at top: The Family Assistance Center on East Rebecca Street in East Palestine.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.