3 charged with branding, giving pot to Struthers teen

Laurie Lyden

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – A Mahoning County grand jury indicted a Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office civilian employee and two others Thursday, charging that two branded a 17-year-old with a heated-up chewing tobacco lid, then gave him marijuana while a third videotaped the event.

Laurie Lyden, 46, of Struthers, is one of three people facing charges of felonious assault, corrupting another with drugs and child endangering. The others are Ronald Bier, 35, of Struthers, and Brian Pryjma, 38.

According to a police report, the 17-year-old’s father told police that the branding happened Aug. 11 after his son lost a bet in regards to eating moonshine-soaked cherries.

The father also stated that Bier and Pryjma held the boy down while a third man branded him with the lid, then a throwing star, then the lid again, all heated up with an acetylene torch, while Lyden videotaped the event.

The third man has not been formally charged in connection with the event.

Lyden, Bier and Pryjma are also charged with providing marijuana and pain pills to the boy after the branding.

The 17-year-old suffered third-degree burns and a blood infection which could have resulted in death if left untreated, according to the report.

Authorities said Lyden could be heard on the recording encouraging the branding.

“A lot of times I can’t control what my employees do away from their workplace or how they lead their lives,” Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said. “I can only deal with it after certain things like this take place. It’s not going to be tolerated from my office at all.”

Police said the incident happened outside a home on Wilson Street in Struthers.

Lyden has been a clerical employee for the Sheriff for the past seven years. Greene said he placed her on administrative leave as soon as he learned of the incident.

Lyden and the others are all due in court in September.

Branding is the act of searing a design into one’s flesh using a heated metal object.

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