NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (November 9, 2022) – The trial of longtime Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen started at 1 p.m. Wednesday in front of a jury of six men and six women.
Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos is overseeing the case. It will continue at 9 a.m. Thursday with witness testimony.
Homrighausen has pleaded not guilty to nine counts in a grand jury indictment including theft in office and nepotism charges.
In opening statements, state prosecutor Robert Smith accused Homrighausen of pocketing wedding fees instead of depositing them in the city treasury.
“In short, the allegation is he took over $7,500 in funds that he received performing the weddings as mayor. His compensation did not include that. He was not allowed the take that. He’s required by state law to deposit it, and instead he kept the money, and that’s what’s alleged as the theft in office.”
Smith outlined his evidence.
“You’re going to see documents of some of these weddings. They’re all on city letterhead. They’re all used with city paper. They were all printed up with the city copiers. So everything that was done for was done, as the state believes the evidence will show, in his capacity as mayor on the city’s time and on the city’s dime.”
Homrighausen’s attorney Mark DeVan said Homrighausen’s actions were accepted without objection by other city officials until recently when the mayor was in poor health during the pandemic.
“It was then that the mayor’s enemies struck and took advantage of the situation here.”
“He never hid any of this. It shows that he had no intent to commit a crime. He did not know any of this was illegal or could be illegal. And the people who should have said something to him, those with legal training, looked the other way until it was to their advantage to come down on him and try to ruin his life.”
Witness testimony begins
Interim Mayor Shane Gunnoe was the first witness to testify. He testified about paying Homrighausen $90 to conduct his wedding. Several questions focused on whether the wedding payment was a fee to a city official or a traditional gratuity or tip. Gunnoe also answered questions about his relationship with Homrighausen. DeVan had him identify people in a New Year’s Eve/swearing in party photo from 2015 at Homrighausen’s home, including Homrighausen’s son and city law director Doug O’Meara.
Two other witnesses testified they paid Homrighausen to officiate their wedding ceremonies.
Dover Mayor Executive Assistant Eva Newsome also testified about how she and the mayor handled wedding payments. Her testimony will continue Thursday at 9 a.m.