NEW PHILADELPHIA — Former Dover Mayor Richard P. Homrighausen was ordered Tuesday to pay $17,210 in restitution and fines as punishment for convictions for theft of office, dereliction of duty and four counts of soliciting improper compensation related to fees he had collected for attending weddings.
But Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos chose not to sentence the 74-year-old, eight-year-old mayor to jail or put him on probation.
Homrighausen case:The jury convicts Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen on six robbery-related charges
Homrighausen case:Jury deliberates Mayor Dover case, judge acquits Homrighausen of 2 charges
The verdict followed the recommendation of special counsel Samuel J. Kirk of the Ohio Auditor’s Office, who told the judge that the prosecutor’s primary concern is obtaining restitution.
Thomakos ordered Homrighausen to pay:
A total of $9,295 in fees he collected for performing 231 wedding ceremonies, a figure derived from a state audit. Kirk said Homrighausen would have to repay this amount because it represents the total he should have deposited in the city treasury. Failure to deposit the money constituted the crime of dereliction of duty.
The cost of the state audit, $2,665.
A $2,500 fine for theft while in office, for taking less than $1,000 in fees for wedding ceremonies he officiated.
Fines of $500 for each count of asking for improper compensation, related to a total of $240 received for four ceremonies.
A $750 fine for dereliction of duty.
The judgment does not have to be paid immediately. Payment is due when Homrighausen has exhausted his appeal or if 30 days have passed without an appeal.
Homrighausen did not speak at the sentencing, nor did any victim. Thomakos said she received victim impact statements from three Dover employees: Administrative Assistant Eva Newsome, Human Resources/Safety Director Gerald Mroczkowski and Service Director David Douglas. Homrighausen sacked them, but they were subsequently reinstated by Dover City Council. Their statement was not read in court.
Cleveland defense attorney Mark DeVan said Homrighausen did not speak because he reserves the right to remain silent pending the outcome of an appeal.
Defense argument:Richard Homrighausen was unaware that his actions were illegal
Six down, nine over:Tax charges against Dover’s suspended mayor Richard P. Homrighausen dismissed
“He fully intends to appeal this case,” DeVan said. “He maintains his innocence.”
He said his client started telling people he wouldn’t charge for weddings when fees were questioned. He said previous state audits showed Dover had no procedure for handling wedding ceremony expenses.
DeVan said Homrighausen is unlikely to commit future crimes, has no criminal record and that probation would be sufficient punishment. He said reimbursement of the $240 for four weddings and the audit fees would be appropriate.
“How much punishment is enough?” he asked.
DeVan said Homrighausen had long rendered honorable service to his community, a service only recently called into question.
Thomakos disputed the defense’s claim that Homrighausen was unaware that his conduct was illegal. She cited testimony given at trial that Homrighausen ordered a map of marriage expenses removed from a wall in his administrative assistant’s office while an auditor was at City Hall.
The judge said Homrighausen’s crimes were more serious because he held public office.
She said it is not unusual for people convicted of theft to have no criminal record. Whether employees, government officials or volunteers, the defendants are often the last person anyone would expect to steal, she said. The judge said such crimes take place in secret.
Homrighausen has been permanently barred from public office due to the conviction for theft. The vacancy in the office means Council President Justin Perkowski will become acting mayor, according to Shane Gunnoe, who served as interim mayor after Homrighausen was suspended May 4 by a three-judge panel appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Members of the Republican Central Committee in Dover must select someone to serve for the remainder of the four-year mayoral term, which ends December 31, 2023.
The defendant’s son, Nicholas Homrighausen, is one of the candidates petitioning for the office, which will be filled by election this year. Fellow Republican Gunnoe is running for office. Democrat Colby Byrom has also passed petitions.
Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR
This article originally appeared on The Times-Reporter: Richard Homrighausen ordered to pay restitution, fines in theft case