In Delaware Municipal Court Friday, a motion was filed to dismiss the case asking a judge to order Liberty Township trustees Melanie Leneghan and Michael Gemperline to increase their bond to $1 million each.
The motion asking a judge to increase the trustees’ bonds was filed by the Law Office of Gary Yashko, Powell, Jan. 22 on the behalf of 24 Liberty Township residents.
“Now come the applicants, identified in the petition … respectfully ask this court to order Liberty Township Trustees Michael Gemperline and Melanie Leneghan to increase the bonds they hold as a condition of their office to an amount equal to one million dollars each,” the original court filing states.
The petitioners were also requesting that the court order the two trustees to secure the bonds, “at no cost to the township, … conditioned upon faithful performance of their duties in accordance with Ohio Revised Code 505.02.”
The residents also asked in their filing that if the two trustees do not post the bonds within 10 days, that the court “declare their seats vacant.”
Upon discovering a mistake in the original motion, Yashko said the parties involved decided it would be better to file a motion for dismissal.
“I substantially still feel very strong about the case,” Yashko said. “But after the discovery of a technicality, we’ll set back and reassess things before moving forward again.”
Courtroom B of the Delaware Municipal Court was packed Monday with residents and interested parties who showed up for an oral hearing in the matter, but after a 45-minute meeting with attorneys in the judge’s chambers, the bailiff emerged and announced the hearing had been rescheduled.
In the foyer of the courtroom Monday after the announcement of the rescheduling, Sue Braden, one of the petitioners of the motion, said she was disappointed there was no outcome in the case.
“I’m just disappointed that we’re leaving here with no more information or conclusion than we have up until now,” she said. “I think it’s a good sign that the case wasn’t thrown out, but in the meantime, we have a runaway train in our township.”
If the case had carried forward, residents would have possibly had a conclusion to their request on Feb. 11, the date for the rescheduled hearing.
Gemperline sat at the defendant’s table alone Monday, while the attorneys meet in the judge’s chambers.
“They are trying to use their lawyer to get me out of office,” Gemperline said Friday when asked about his thoughts on the dismissal of the case. “God bless them for trying. This whole thing is political and has very little to do with the EMS.”
Leneghan, not present at the hearing Monday, said she found the lawsuit to be “ridiculous” after a special trustees meeting held Monday.
“Now, hopefully everybody will see that Mr. Yashko and his followers are nothing more than political hacks,” she said Friday after hearing about the filing to dismiss the case. “They could care less about the taxpayer’s money. It was no more than an attempt to defame my good character.”
The group has stated it filed the motion due to the recent actions by the two trustees that have led to or could further lead to legal actions against the township.
“There is a growing controversy surrounding the actions of Trustees Gemperline and Leneghan due to their actions surrounding the Liberty Township Fire and EMS services,” the original court filing states. “These decisions have led to public outcry and subject the township to liability.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.