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Overdosing Akron school board member had history of struggles, including hallucinations

He will likely remain on the school board for the time being.

John Otterman is no stranger to politics, having served in the State House, on Akron’s City Council, and most recently, on its school board.

Yet he struggled elsewhere.

In the early 2000’s he faced felony charges for lying to a doctor to get painkillers. Eventually the charges were dropped.

Last year, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after Xanax was found in his car.

Then, earlier this year, police were called to his home during a hallucinogenic episode where his wife and daughter found him shooting imaginary mice with a BB gun.

On Thursday, a barber who asked that his name not to be used for this story, found him just before 8 o’clock at night slumped in the front seat of his car.

They were in the 200 block of East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.

“He has his demons,” the Good Samaritan said, “But he’s a very, very, very nice man.”

That same Samaritan could be heard in the 911 call to dispatchers.

“Our owner of our building, he’s in his car, I mean actually his car, has been out there for hours,” he says. “We shook the car, we beat on the windows and everything, he’s not moving.”

When help arrived, it took four cans of Narcan to ultimately revive Otterman.

It was ironic, perhaps, given that just last year, he fought to have that same overdose antidote placed in Akron Schools.

Police say they also found fentanyl and marijuana in his car.

As for his future with the school board, he will likely serve out his term through next year since it is an elected position.

The board’s president points out he was already censured over last year’s offense.

“Taken away a lot of his responsibilities as a board member,” board president Patrick Bravo said, “With the exception, of course, being an actual board member and having the opportunity to vote on matters that come before the board.”

Akron Police Lieutenant Rick Edwards said Otterman did admit to possessing the drugs, and because of that, qualifies for immunity to the felony charge of fentanyl possession.

Under a new law, a person found “in crisis” who admits to possessing fentanyl can avoid charges if they agree to several terms which include counseling.

Edwards said Otterman still faces a misdemeanor drug charge for marijuana possession.

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