Local fugitive 'living happily ever after' in Florida because he's too far away for authorities to get him

Aaron Krause • Dec 7, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Michael Paul Cox never appeared for his pretrial hearing in Huron County in connection with fifth-degree felony charges of trafficking in drugs.

There has been a warrant for his arrest ever since he failed to appear in 2004.

But unless Cox returns to Ohio from his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., Cox, now 36, won't serve time in connection with the drug crimes.

That is what Huron County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Cooksey said about Cox, whose name recently appeared on the most wanted fugitives list published on the Reflector's website, www.norwalkreflector.com.

Now retired Huron County Common Pleas Judge Earl McGimpsey issued a warrant for Cox's arrest April 14, 2004 after Cox failed to appear for his pretrial on April 12 of that year. That warrant is still active, court administrator Linda Stower said.

The problem is, the "pick-up radius" for Cox only includes the state of Ohio. A pick-up radius is the distance authorities are willing go to arrest and transport a suspect.

Other pick-up radius possibilities limit authorities to the county in question, the county and adjacent ones or anywhere in the United States. The pick-up radius is determined in proportion to the severity of the suspect's crime, Cooksey said.

Since Cox is charged with fifth-degree felonies, the least severe type of a felony charge, the pick-up radius was established as the state of Ohio. So even though authorities are aware he lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. -- and his address there is listed on the court's website -- Cox's case likely won't go to trial.

That doesn't sit well with at least one Reflector reader.

"Michael Paul Cox ... (allegedly) sold drugs, got busted, moved to another state and is living happily ever after. Never went to jail," a concerned reader wrote, alerting the newspaper to the situation.

"For a fifth-degree felony, it's going to cost a lot of money to go down to Florida and pick someone up," said Cooksey, who declined to estimate a cost.

If Cox returns to Ohio and an officer pulls him over for a traffic violation, he could be arrested on the outstanding warrant. If that would happen in a county adjacent to Huron County, there wouldn't be an extradition hearing, Cooksey said. If it's not an adjacent county, such a hearing would take place. Counties adjacent to Huron are Ashland, Crawford, Erie, Lorain, Richland, Sandusky and Seneca.

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