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Published: Monday, 8/26/2013

Ex-Henry County commissioner on trial for dealings over public contract

BLADE STAFF

NAPOLEON – Former Henry County Commissioner Richard Myers was making “an honest effort to help his community” when he loaned his own money to a specialty automaker looking to move its production facility to Henry County, his attorney contended today.

“This is a story of failed economic development,” Toledo attorney Martin Mohler said during opening statements in the criminal trial of Richard Myers. “…Everything Rich Myers did was motivated solely by his desire to bring jobs and industry to Henry County.”

Mr. Myers, 64, of Liberty Center, is on trial in Henry County Common Pleas Court for having an illegal interest in a public contract.

Special Prosecutor Robert Smith, assistant chief legal counsel for State Auditor Dave Yost, told visiting Judge Randall Basinger of Putnam County, who is hearing the case, that the revolving loan fund committee of the Maumee Valley Planning Organization had recommended commissioners deny the loan application of Revenge Designs, Inc. because it had not obtained the required private financing. Mr. Myers, he said, ascertained that commissioners could override that recommendation and then convinced his fellow commissioners to approve the loan.

While the $300,000 loan was processed and the money turned over to Revenge Designs in 2009, Mr. Myers never told his fellow commissioners he had given $25,000 of his own money to the company, Mr. Smith said. He also voted on the loan application despite the conflict.

Revenge Designs, for its part, never relocated to Henry County and never repaid any of the $300,000 loan. County commissioners repaid the state for the lost funds through its general fund.

Mr. Mohler submitted that Mr. Myers’ criminal trial was all about trying to get that money back “even though everyone agrees he received not one cent of the loan funds.” He blamed the bad loan on a series of mistakes by the Maumee Valley Planning Organization, which Henry County contracts with to administer its revolving loan fund.

Mr. Myers, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid last November following his indictment about six weeks earlier.

The trial is expected to last two days.



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