For­mer Delaware County judge stands trial on theft charges

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - By Dean Nar­ciso dnar­ciso@dis­patch.com @DeanNar­ciso

DELAWARE — A long­time at­tor­ney and for­mer Delaware County judge is ac­cused of felony theft in one of the first tri­als to be heard in the county’s new jus­tice com­plex.

A jury heard open­ing state­ments Tues­day in the trial of Michael C. Hoague, 62, who is charged with two felony counts each of theft and tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence, stem­ming from in­ci­dents in 2012 and 2013.

The case in­volves pay­ments that Hoague re­ceived from the fam­ily of an in­di­gent Ash­ley man, Ti­mothy Ha­mon, who was ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing a child.

Brad Tam­maro, special pros­e­cu­tor in the case, told a jury that Hoague re­ceived pay­ments from the county for work as a pub­lic de­fender in the case, though he’d al­ready ar­ranged a $10,000 pay­ment from Ha­mon’s fam­ily.

“He knew that he had been paid,” said Tam­maro, who said Hoague was de­cep­tive in con­ceal­ing his pay­ments.

Tam­maro said Hoague twice failed to ac­knowl­edge re­ceiv­ing money prior to be­ing ap­pointed co-coun­sel on the Ha­mon case.

The so-called “dou­ble dip­ping” is il­le­gal and considered a theft of pub­lic funds, Tam­maro said. But worse, he said, is that he fal­si­fied dis­clo­sure forms stat­ing he’d not been paid.

Hoague’s at­tor­ney, Mark De­Van, ar­gued that the Ha­mon fam­ily paid Hoague as a con­sul­tant — not as an at­tor­ney — and that Hoague did both jobs.

“For a fee, he would re­search and draft mo­tions and briefs” in the case, but would not be considered co-coun­sel with Ha­mon’s as­signed at­tor­ney, Thomas Waldeck, De­Van ar­gued. In May 2012, then-Com­mon Pleas Judge Dun­can Whit­ney ap­pointed Hoague as co-coun­sel.

Ha­mon’s fam­ily had agreed to pay Hoague about $10,000 — $4,000 up­front and the bal­ance made in $500-per-month pay­ments. To do so, rel­a­tives had to sell the fam­ily home. Ha­mon, 48, was sen­tenced to a four-year prison sen­tence last year.

Hoague, an at­tor­ney since 1983, was a Delaware County Mu­nic­i­pal Court judge from Jan­uary 1996 through Jan­uary 2001. The trial is the sec­ond crim­i­nal trial to be held in the county’s new, $35 mil­lion court­house.

Hoague has faced other con­tro­ver­sies. In 2000, the Ohio Supreme Court sus­pended him from prac­tic­ing law for six months af­ter he was con­victed of send­ing a threat­en­ing let­ter to a Colum­bus woman in a 1998 road-rage in­ci­dent he was in­volved in on Route 23 in Delaware County.

A year later, he was ac­cused of dis­miss­ing the case of a woman with whom he al­legedly had a re­la­tion­ship. The woman, who had pre­vi­ously been con­victed of four DUIs, was found guilty of a fifth DUI in a jury trial that in­volved a car crash in which she was in­jured. Hoague at the time said there were sev­eral tech­ni­cal prob­lems in the trial.

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