After a lengthy investigation and repeated trial date postponements, Neil Perin, 35, of Athens, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to 13 felonies and multiple misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Perin, a former local farmer well known in the local food scene, was arrested in April 2018. The arrest came following issuance of an Amber Alert after he assaulted his wife and fled the county with their three young children (two of them birth children of Perin); he was arrested in Cleveland, and the children were safely returned to their mother.
He was indicted soon after on a litany of felony-level kidnapping, domestic violence and other charges.
Perin was set to appear at trial later this month, but during a change-of-plea hearing Monday (Jan. 13) he agreed to take a deal that dropped some of the charges against him in exchange for his guilty plea.
In addition the prison term, Athens County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy ordered that Perin be subject to a mandatory term of five years of post-release control during that hearing Monday. He further classified Perin as a “violent offender,” requiring registration duties for 10 years upon release from incarceration, according to a release from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office. He’ll be eligible for early release from prison after 10 years, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Wednesday.
Perin was indicted a total of three times in 2018, including in July 2018 after allegedly attempting to arrange with somebody at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail (where he was incarcerated) to kill his wife. He was indicted on further charges in August 2018 after the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office’s continued investigation, largely relating to him allegedly keeping his wife in a state of “involuntary servitude” over a period of time, and forcing her to have sex with him, while restricting her access to their children, the Prosecutor’s Office previously said.
In total, Perin pleaded guilty Monday to the following charges:
• Two fourth-degree felony counts of domestic violence.
• Two third-degree felony counts of abduction.
• A fourth-degree felony count of disrupting public services.
• Four first-degree felony counts of kidnapping.
• One fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property.
• Two third-degree felony counts of intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness in a criminal case, and two first-degree misdemeanor counts of intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness in a criminal case.
• Eight first-degree misdemeanor counts of endangering children.
• One third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence.
First-degree felony charges of rape, trafficking in persons, kidnapping (three counts), and conspiracy to commit murder were all dropped against Perin due to the plea agreement.
Blackburn said in a brief interview Tuesday that this is a “significant sentence” for Perin, and noted that the plea agreement was also agreed upon by the victims in this case. The case not going to trial also means those victims (Perin’s ex-wife and the three children) don’t have to go through that likely lengthy, traumatic process.
“This stops a 6-year-old child from having to testify at trial,” Blackburn said. “...We’re proud of Elizabeth Pepper and the rest of the staff that helped me work on this. This is a just outcome. I hope that these victims are able to move forward with their lives, and forever remain safe.”
The victim in this case started a GoFundMe this week to help her pay for relocation and other expenses relating to her and her children starting a new life, which can be found here.
"We have had to already move three times in the last two years to run from him in attempts to stay safe but his lawyers tracked me down and now know where we are," she wrote.
Perin’s case had languished for almost two years, with the trial date pushed back multiple times (it had initially been set for June 2018) initially due to the multiple indictments, and later because Perin through his attorneys asked for multiple continuances of the trial, which Judge McCarthy granted. Perin also changed attorneys multiple times.
Blackburn thanked the U.S. Marshals Services, the Columbus SWAT team, and the Cleveland Police Department for helping recover the children after the Amber Alert was issued in 2018.
Perin formerly ran Arcadian Acres farm with his ex-wife, which had a variety of animals, including “heritage breed” hogs and alpacas. The Shade area farm itself was the subject of controversy in Nov. 2018 when The NEWS highlighted the plight of several emaciated-looking, dying animals on the farm that had languished while the criminal case and a separate divorce case proceeded between Perin and his ex-wife (Perin was obliged to provide care for those animals). The animals ended up getting cared for after some court filings.