NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (July 28, 2022) – State prosecutors are dropping six of 15 counts against suspended Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen, and his attorneys are pushing for more.
Homrighausen is facing a Sept. 20 jury trial in a grand jury indictment that initially accused him of 15 counts, including theft in office. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutor Robert Smith Thursday filed a motion to dismiss six fifth-degree felony counts of filing incomplete, false, and fraudulent returns. He didn’t elaborate, saying he doesn’t want to discuss the case during the pretrial stage.
Nine counts remain against Homrighausen, including two felonies. The most serious is theft in office, a third-degree felony.
Prosecutors say Homrighausen pocketed around $9,295 in wedding fees between 2014 and 2021.
Two other counts accuse Homrighausen of nepotism in the employment of his son, Peter, since 2013.
Homrighausen’s attorneys have asked Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos to dismiss those counts, saying other city officials never objected before.
Prosecutors say that’s irrelevant.
There was a hearing Thursday morning in the criminal case against Homrighausen. However, it was current and former city employees who took the witness stand.
Thursday’s hearing addressed Homrighausen’s attorney’s request to dismiss two nepotism charges related to his role in hiring and overseeing his son Peter Homrighausen.
Homrighausen’s attorney Mark DeVan argued City Law Director Doug O’Meara never objected to Peter’s employment.
“At no time did you say, ‘Mayor, you can’t be a party to this. You’re his father,’” DeVan said to O’Meara during the law director’s testimony Thursday. “And you never said to anyone, once again, ‘Why is Peter working for the city when his father’s the mayor?’”
State Prosecutor Robert Smith argues in court filings that what O’Meara did after the fact is irrelevant to Homrighausen’s involvement in hiring his son.
City Service Director Dave Douglas, former Light and Power Plant Superintendent Dave Filippi, and Peter Homrighausen himself all testified about their recollections of his hiring in 2013.
Smith presented as evidence the results of Peter Homrighausen’s pre-employment polygraph exam, which included admissions to drug use on the job and theft at a previous employer, according to testimony from Douglas.
“The nature of the polygraph admissions are such, I believe the testimony will establish, that no one making these admissions concerning drug possession has ever been hired by the city other than Richard Homrighausen’s son,” Smith said.
Homrighausen’s attorneys objected, but Thomakos allowed the line of questioning to continue.
Thomakos gave no indication on when she would issue a ruling on the motion to dismiss.
Defense wants evidence thrown out
Homrighausen’s attorneys are also trying to get evidence related to the theft in office charge thrown out.
Homrighausen’s attorneys argue prosecutors should not be allowed to share evidence of 300 alleged theft offenses because there is only one count of theft in office in the grand jury indictment.
Prosecutors and the judge have not yet responded to that motion, which was filed Monday.