Dover interim mayor’s wedding part of criminal case against suspended mayor
NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (September 7, 2022) – The state auditor’s office has accused suspended Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen of pocketing fees from over 200 weddings. One of those weddings was the 2014 ceremony for acting Mayor Shane Gunnoe.
Homrighausen has a Sept. 20 jury trial scheduled as he faces nine counts, including theft in office, a third-degree felony, in a criminal grand jury indictment. He’s been suspended by the state while the criminal matter is ongoing.
Gunnoe, previously the city council president, was appointed to serve as mayor in the interim.
At a hearing Tuesday, Homrighausen’s attorney Mark DeVan said that Gunnoe’s wedding led to one of the four misdemeanor counts of soliciting improper compensation against Homrighausen.
“Those four weddings are specified. Those were returned by the grand jury. In other words, there was evidence sufficient to return those four counts, three through six,” DeVan said.
State Prosecutor Robert Smith said the four weddings were singled out so witnesses from those wedding parties can testify at trial.
“This was a vehicle through which we were going to be bringing four different individuals in to testify as to, ‘this is the process I followed,’ to give credence to the testimony from other witnesses that this is the process we were told to follow within the city,” Smith said.
Gunnoe is one of several city employees subpoenaed as a potential witness. He said he’s not commenting on the criminal trial at this time.
“I and other city employees are continuing to cooperate fully and completely with the state’s investigation into the matter,” Gunnoe said.
Attorneys argue over potential evidence
DeVan Tuesday was arguing Judge Elizabeth Thomakos should throw out evidence of 270 alleged thefts from other weddings because there are not 270 separate counts.
“We’re going to be put in a situation where the jury is going to hear evidence, far and wide, about things which are not charged in the indictment,” DeVan said.
Smith argued state statute allows prosecutors to lump all the instances under one theft in office count.
“The state is permitted under both this statute as well as evidence rule 1,006 to present everything to the jury … in a summary format, and that is what we anticipate doing here, which is done all across the state everyday in this type of case,” Smith said.
Thomakos said she will issue a ruling soon but questioned DeVan’s argument.
“I’m not sure I agree that there had to be 270 misdemeanors charged in the indictment,” she said.
Homrighausen’s trial is less than two weeks away. The list of potential witnesses includes Gunnoe, Dover Law Director Doug O’Meara, City Auditor Nicole Stoldt, Light Plant Superintendent Jason Hall, and three employees Homrighausen tried to fire late last year.