DOVER, Ohio — Last week, Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen was indicted by a Tuscarawas County grand jury on a slew of public corruption charges for allegedly pocketing thousands of dollars in fees from weddings that should have gone to the city's coffers.
An anonymous complaint to authorities prompted an investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Ohio Auditor of State's Special Investigation Unit as well as members of Dover City Council.
Authorities allege Homrighausen accepted money for conducting weddings as mayor but pocketed the fees instead of turning them over to the city.
In total, the mayor received $9,295 for performing 231 wedding ceremonies between January 2014 and May 2021, authorities said. A separate audit of the city's finances found it didn't have an ordinance on the book outlining a policy depositing money obtained via wedding fees.
Authorities say Homrighausen didn't claim the fees on his federal, state or local taxes or declare the payments on ethics financial disclosure forms. The investigation also concluded that Homrighausen hired his son to work for the city, violating state nepotism laws.
According to the indictment, Homrighausen is charged with the following:
- One count of theft in office, a third-degree felony
- One count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony
- Six counts of filing incomplete, false, and fraudulent returns, all fifth-degree felonies
- Four counts of soliciting improper compensation, all first-degree misdemeanors
- Two counts of dereliction of duty, both second-degree misdemeanors
- One count of representation by a public official or employee, a first-degree misdemeanor
The state is seeking $9,295 in restitution Homrighausen allegedly received from those fees. It's also seeking nearly $4,000 in reimbursement to pay for the cost of the state audit triggered by the investigation.
Dover City Council President Shane Gunnoe called for Homrighausen's resignation over the matter, stating the mayor "violated the trust of the people of Dover and must be accountable for his actions."
Gunnoe told News 5 that City Council has tried to remove Homrighausen for more than a year, after Gunnoe said workplace performance became a noticeable problem.
"Dover is a great town with great people and this is an embarrassment for them," Gunnoe said. "To me it’s a matter of trust. It’s a matter that you’re elected by the citizens to serve them and you have an obligation to do what’s right with that money. To me, I feel like the mayor has breached that trust with the community."
News 5 made several attempts to speak with the mayor, who declined to comment for this story.
"We’re going to get through this," Gunnoe added. "We’re going to heal and we’re going to move on and move forward."
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