DOVER (WJER) (March 11, 2022) – Mayor Richard Homrighausen was served a 15-count grand jury indictment Friday.
A press release from Auditor Keith Faber described the indictment as “15 criminal counts for allegedly pocketing wedding fees that should have been directed to the city allegedly pocketing wedding fees that should have been directed to the city.” The auditor recommends Homrighausen be ordered to reimburse the city just over $13,000.
Tuscarawas County Sheriff Orvis Campbell in an email said he delivered a copy of the indictment to Homrighausen at his home without incident at 2:18 p.m.
The indictment, obtained through the Tuscarawas County Clerk of Courts, is titled “State of Ohio v. Richard P. Homrighausen.” It references incidents from 2012 to 2020, although it doesn’t go into much detail on those incidents.
It includes eight felony counts, the highest being third-degree felony theft in office. The indictment specifies the theft of $7,500 or more in property and services.
There is also a fourth-degree felony: having an unlawful interest in a public contract. That claims the mayor “while being a public official did knowingly authorize or employ the authority or influence of his office to secure authorization of any public contract in which he, a member of his family, or any of his businesss associates had an interest.”
There are six fifth-degree felony counts of filing incomplete false and fraudulent returns.
There are five first-degree misdemeanor counts. They include soliciting improper compensation and representation by a public official or employee. That last one specifies the mayor “did participate in and rule on the grievance filed by his son, Peter Homrighausen.”
There are two second-degree misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty. One says the mayor “did fail to remit to the treasury of the city of Dover fees collected by him, as Mayor of the City of Dover, on the first Monday of each month, as required…”
Homrighausen did not immediately return a message left at his home.
Dover City Council President Shane Gunnoe described the indictment of a sitting mayor as “a black eye on our community” and a “sad day for the community.”
He says it is not a surprise as council has been asking the mayor to resign for more than a year.
Gunnoe asked for prayers for the justice system, for employees who have had to deal with “a very stressful situation” over the last year and for healing for the community.
He says a special prosecutor can initiate suspension proceedings for an elected official charged with a felony offense. He says he would support citizens of Dover filing action in probate court for Homrighausen’s removal.
“I absolutely believe he should be removed from office, absolutely,” Gunnoe said.
State Auditor’s Office press release
State Auditor Keith Faber issued a press release on the indictment:
“The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit opened an investigation into Homrighausen after receiving an anonymous complaint alleging his improper acceptance of gratuities for conducting weddings as the city’s elected mayor, among other potential wrongdoing. The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Ohio Ethics Commission. Members of the Dover City Council also investigated alleged ‘illegal and improper’ activities by the mayor.
“State auditors determined Homrighausen performed 231 marriages between January 2014 and May 2021 and received payments totaling $9,295 in cash and checks that he failed to remit to the city.
“(Separately, the 2020 audit of Dover’s finances noted, ‘The city has no policies or ordinances on the books to establish the proper procedures for depositing and accounting for wedding fees.’)
“The Special Investigations Unit also determined that the mayor failed to claim wedding fees on federal, state, and local tax returns; failed to declare the payments on ethics financial disclosure forms; and interviewed and hired his son for a city job in violation of state nepotism laws.
“In addition to the criminal charges, the Special Investigations Unit has recommended that Homrighausen be ordered to reimburse the city for the $9,295 in marriage ceremony payments and $3,956.50 for the costs of the state audit.”