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Homrighausen’s appeal denied

| January 3, 2024
Three judges representing the Fifth District Court of Appeals hear arguments from lawyers for former Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen and the State Auditor's office back in September.

From left, Special Prosecutor Robert Smith, former Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen, and his attorney Mark DeVan in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court in 2022.

CAMBRIDGE – The Fifth District Court of Appeals has upheld Richard Homrighausen’s conviction and sentence for theft in office.

A jury in November 2022 had found the former longtime Dover mayor guilty of that felony and five other counts related to pocketing wedding fees instead of depositing them into city accounts.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed the jury’s ruling.

Homrighausen’s attorneys had argued that the former mayor didn’t know he was doing anything wrong.

The appeals court called that argument “disingenuous.” In the court’s opinion, the judges say Homrighausen “knew full well he was not entitled to keep money accepted as wedding fees.”

Fifth District Court of Appeals

The appeals court also upheld Homrighausen’s punishment – $5,250 in fines and $9,295 in restitution to the city. The court says that amount is supported by competent, credible evidence. The conviction for felony theft in office also disqualifies Homrighausen from holding a public office.

One appeals court judge partially disagreed with his two colleagues.

Judge Andrew King wrote that the mayor misused his office, but he does not believe the collection of wedding fees constituted stealing from the city. King says it isn’t theft because there was no apparent victim. According to his opinion, the city did not create the fees, so it wasn’t the owner of the fees, so Homrighausen can’t steal the fees from the city if the city didn’t own them.

The case is now closed, but Homrighausen could still appeal to a higher court. His attorney did not immediately return a message.

Separate civil case

Homrighausen is still involved in a lawsuit with the city that could result in him paying thousands of dollars more in restitution for collecting wedding fees.

In that civil case in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court, Judge Michael Ernest has already ruled Homrighausen owes the city about $77,000 for salary he received while suspended from office. The city also wants another $43,630 in compensation for wedding fees city attorneys say Homrighausen collected from 1996 to 2020. Homrighausen’s attorneys say that amount should be zero.

Ernest has the written arguments from both sides. He will on the amount in the coming weeks.

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