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Y-City News

Your Digital Source for Zanesville News

Y-City News

Your Digital Source for Zanesville News

Y-City News

Defense attorney alleged to have discriminated against Black client

Attorney Samantha Pugh stands with another local client of hers before a Muskingum County judge.

Accusations of racial discrimination have been levied against an area attorney who Y-City News previously identified as having a part in ethically questionable conduct.

“…her response was that I’m a Black man and I don’t have any constitutional rights…,” the Defendant wrote in part to our news organization, which has been corroborated by associates of his whom he told after the remarks were originally made.

The attorney, Samantha Pugh, is also alleged to have forced the Defendant to take a guilty plea, saying that she wouldn’t file any motions in his case because he had ‘corrupted a pure white woman.’

Y-City News previously wrote about Attorney Samantha Pugh when our organization discovered that just months after representing another local defendant in Muskingum County Court, she went to work alongside the special prosecutor she went up against, creating ethical concerns surrounding her impartiality in the matter.

That case involved the former U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of Ohio, David DeVillers, acting as the special prosecutor. Pugh was only 26-years-old when the case went before the court, a fresh law school graduate, with many saying the case exceeded her legal expertise.

Our investigative piece in that case resulted in many phone calls, letters and messages, vital tips that have allowed us to further investigate the matter.

One letter we received, from Defendant Chrion Cottrell, was especially concerning. Cottrell wrote of racial comments made to him by his attorney, Samantha Pugh.

According to Cottrell, which was corroborated by family members and associates of his, he hired Pugh after being told by a correction officer in the Muskingum County Jail that he should retain her as counsel.

Cottrell resided in Arizona and was extradited to Zanesville for his alleged role in the drug trade which included felony of the first-degree charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and trafficking.

In his letter, Cottrell says that he received a few visits from Pugh after he paid his retainer to her firm, Soroka and Associates.

During one of those conversations, he alleges that Pugh told him that he had corrupted a ‘pure white woman,’ a 50-something-year-old Patricia Lewis – who is alleged to have been involved in his drug operations.

“I told Samantha Pugh that I want to go to trial and she said on numerous occasions on the recorded jail phone calls that I was automatically going to get found guilty,” Cottrell wrote. “I also told Sam that my speedy trial had been violated and her response was that I’m a Black man and I don’t have any constitutional rights and that she’s not filing any motions on my behalf and if I didn’t take a guilty plea she wasn’t going to represent me and keep the money that I paid her.”

In March of 2022, Cottrell pleaded guilty; he was sentenced to a minimum of a decade in prison later that year.

Roughly a week after being sentenced, Cottrell wrote a letter to the court, a copy of which was forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.

“Hello Honorable Judge, sorry to bother you but I really need help,” Cottrell wrote in his letter. “I signed (a guilty plea) because I was and still am afraid for my life.”

“I wasn’t around when this stuff happened, I was at home in Arizona and I haven’t been in this city since August 2020 until October 27, 2021, since I was extradited,” Cottrell continued. “I was told by my attorney by me being a Black man from Arizona where the drugs were being sent from that the jury was going to find me guilty, this and all conversations with my attorney have been recorded on the jail phone. I’m also trying to take my plea back because I was on medication for the loss of vision in my left eye which was the jail’s fault, it’s all on record and I said it in open court on the record in front of Judge Mark Fleegle.”

Attorney Samantha Pugh did not reply to a request for comment or provide any sort of response to the aforementioned allegations.

Y-City News continues to investigate. Do you have additional information about this situation, other information you think our news organizing should know about or want to bring our attention to a matter that needs investigating? We would like to hear from you. Contact us at (740) 562-6252, email us at or mail us at PO Box 686, Zanesville, Ohio 43701. All sources are kept strictly confidential.

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