Attorneys representing former Delaware Municipal Court Judge Michael C. Hoague filed a motion for acquittal Friday, arguing that the State of Ohio did not have enough evidence to prove Hoague was guilty of theft and tampering with evidence.
Hoague’s trial began on Nov. 11 and the jury returned a guilty verdict on one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and one count of theft, a fifth-degree felony.
The charges stem from a 2012 case in which Hoague was hired by a family to defend their son who was charged with gross sexual imposition and rape in Delaware County Common Pleas Court. Hoague was later appointed to the case as a public defender and at the conclusion of the case Hoague filed paperwork asking to be paid as a public defender for his work on the case. Prosecutors said Hoague was paid for his work on the case both by the family and by the State of Ohio, which they argued was tampering with evidence and theft by deception.
In their motion for acquittal, Hoague’s attorneys, Ian N. Friedman and Mark R. Devan, argue that the state failed to offer evidence of deception and argued that the state failed to unequivocally prove that Hoague intended to defraud anyone, which is an essential element of the tampering with records charge.
“… because the state chose to prosecute on a theory of deception, [without] testimony by the judge who approved payments of the fees that he was deceived, a judgment of acquittal must be entered [for the theft count,]” Friedman wrote in the motion. “It is clear from the evidence adduced at trial that, at best, the state offered equivocal proof of the defendant’s purpose to defraud. Equivocal proof is insufficient to convict …”
The state had not responded to the motion as of Friday afternoon.
A sentencing hearing for Hoague has been scheduled for Dec. 20 at 11 a.m.
Hoague was originally charged with another tampering with evidence charge and another theft charge, but those charges were dismissed during the trial.
The tampering with evidence charge is a third-degree felony and carries a penalty of 9 to 36 months in prison or a fine not to exceed $10,000, according to the Ohio Revised Code. The theft charge is a fifth-degree felony and carries a penalty of 6 to 12 months in prison or a fine not to exceed $2,500, according to the ORC.
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