A trio of Republican women are fighting part of the punishment they got for accepting coin dealer Tom Noe's money in 2003 to attend a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser for President Bush.
Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber, Toledo City Councilman Betty Shultz, and Donna Owens, a former Toledo mayor, have appealed a judge's order that they pay the cost for the investigation into their violation of Ohio ethics laws.
They and Sally Perz, a former state representative, were convicted and sentenced in Toledo Municipal Court in June on misdemeanor charges for failing to file state ethics forms disclosing as gifts money that Noe had given them, which then was donated illegally to the Bush campaign.
As part of their punishment, Judge Mark Reddin of Bowling Green said they each will have to pay $4,125 for their share of the $16,499 incurred by the state ethics commission to conduct the investigation.
On Tuesday, the Columbus attorney who represents Ms. Thurber, 42; Ms. Owens, 70, and Ms. Shultz, 69, filed an appeal in Municipal Court to challenge the restitution punishment.
Attorney H. Ritchey Hollenbaugh claims in the appeal that Judge Reddin didn't have the authority under state law to impose the costs of the investigation on the defendants.
The appeal cites a case decided in Ohio's 2nd Court of Appeals that reversed the sentencing order of a lower court in a theft case in which a judge ordered a defendant to pay the costs of a criminal investigation and prosecution.
"The judge has the authority to impose certain punishments, which would include a fine or costs. But, there is no provision that allows the court to impose the cost of the investigation. The court of appeals decision supports that," Mr. Hollenbaugh said yesterday.
The women also were fined the maximum $1,000 apiece and court costs. Judge Reddin could have sentenced them to up to six months in jail.
Noe was sentenced last month in federal court to 27 months in federal prison for illegally contributing $45,400 to President's Bush's re-election campaign. The four women and 20 other people each received money from Noe to attend the Bush fund-raiser in Columbus.
Lynn Grimshaw, a Scioto County attorney who was appointed special prosecutor to handle the cases, said he would submit a reply to the challenge in a few days.
He said Mr. Hollenbaugh likely would fail to win the argument because Toledo is in the state's 6th appellate court district and Judge Reddin wasn't bound to follow the case cited in the appeal.
"The Toledo court is not in that court of appeals, and Judge Reddin doesn't have to follow the decision of the 2nd district," Mr. Grimshaw said.
Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said the women violated federal campaign finance laws and the move challenging the restitution illustrates their continued arrogance.
"They need to work off their debt to society and be thankful they are not in prison," he said.
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