A trial date of Nov. 7 was set in the case against Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, with a final pre-trial set for Oct. 12.
At Monday’s arraignment in Highland County Common Pleas Court, Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove entered not guilty pleas on four felony counts on behalf of Hastings after the defense waived the reading of the indictments. Hastings’ wife, Taryn, accompanied the mayor to the hearing.
Special prosecutor Robert F. Smith agreed to turn over all discovery items to Hastings’ attorney, James Boulger, within a week. The judge noted that the discovery evidence includes material on five CDs, which Smith said his office is in the process of copying for the defense.
Boulger promised to have reciprocal discovery turned over to the prosecution within three weeks after he has a chance to review the prosecution’s evidence.
Boulger also asked for a bill of particulars, which is “a written statement used in both civil and criminal actions that is submitted by… a prosecutor at the request of a defendant, giving the defendant detailed information concerning the claims or charges made against him or her,” according to a legal dictionary. Smith said he would comply with that request.
Cosgrove also entered a “pre-trial publicity order,” which amounts to ordering anyone associated with the case, including witnesses, not to comment to the media or post comments about the case on social media platforms such as Facebook.
“There has been a lot of publicity” about the case, said the judge. She added, “We’re going to try this case in the courtroom” if it goes to trial.
Cosgrove said, “I don’t want any surprises by either side” in regard to discovery items or witness lists. She said witness lists should be complete prior to trial.
Hastings’ arraignment on Monday was delayed more than two hours as the parties awaited the arrival of the judge, who is from Summit County. She was assigned to handle the case after Judge Rocky Coss recused himself.
Hastings was indicted July 12 by a grand jury, after a seven-month investigation, on charges of election falsification, theft, theft in office and tampering with records. All the charges are felonies.
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, in whose office Smith works, said in a press release when indictments were returned that the charges are for “allegedly listing a false address on his Declaration of Candidacy form; for claiming a city refund of $500 for a vacant building he owned and for altering documents related to the refund, and; for instructing a contractor to use city dumpsters to dispose of construction debris.”
Hastings said after he was indicted, “I am only guilty of trying to represent our citizens without the consent of an established political structure.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.