Ex-Henry Co. commissioner avoids prison for felony

Official guilty of illegal interest in contract


NAPOLEON — A former Henry County commissioner who failed to disclose his financial interests in a company that obtained a $300,000 loan from the county avoided prison on Thursday and instead was placed on probation.

Judge Randall Basinger said Richard Myers’ actions in mixing his own money with funds held by the county was inappropriate, but his actions were not done for personal profit.

“I have concluded, however, this is not the case of a corrupt public official, but the case, rather, of an elected official making a significant error in judgment,” said Judge Basinger of Putnam County Common Pleas Court, who was assigned to the case.

Myers could have received up to 18 months in prison for the fourth-degree felony. Instead, Judge Basinger placed the former commissioner on community control for one year and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service.

Myers was found guilty on Aug. 30 of having an illegal interest in a contract after a two-day bench trial in Henry County Common Pleas Court. Two counts of money laundering were dismissed at the end of the trial and Myers was acquitted of a second count of having an illegal interest in a contract.

Judge Basinger, who tried the case in lieu of a jury, found that Myers had persuaded his fellow commissioners in 2009 to loan $300,000 to a specialty car company in which he had invested $25,000 of his own money without disclosing that fact to the board.

The money, which came from the county’s revolving loan fund, was paid to Revenge Designs Inc., an automobile customizer that had plans to build an assembly and endurance-testing facility. Those plans never materialized and the company never moved its operations to Henry County. The money was never repaid to the county.

The indictment was handed up six weeks before the 2012 election in which voters tossed Myers, a Democrat, from his seat on the board of commissioners.

When given the opportunity to speak during the sentencing, Myers, 64, of Liberty Center stated: “Everything that needed to be said has been said.”

Martin Mohler, Myers’ attorney, said his client’s intentions behind the loan was to help boost the local economy. He said has suffered the loss of his elected office, the money he invested in Revenge Designs, and has been subjected to private and public scrutiny for his actions.

On Wednesday, Judge Basinger denied a request from special Prosecutor Robert Smith, assistant chief counsel for the state auditor, seeking to have Myers repay the money lost by the county.

Mr. Smith said he was disappointed with the decision, but respected the judge’s ruling.

“He was the one to make that decision. But we have no option but to abide by it,” he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.