As Stinebaugh appeal drags on, attorney optimistic

Apr. 28—WAPAKONETA — It's been 17 months since former Wapakoneta mayor Thomas Stinebaugh was convicted by an Auglaize County jury on charges of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, theft in office and three counts of conflict of interest.

It's been seven months since the Ohio 3rd District Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Stinebaugh's appeal of that verdict and the 18-month prison sentence handed down by visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove.

To date there has been no resolution to the case.

Lengthy appeals are not uncommon, according to the Perrysburg attorney handling Stinebaugh's case, but Andrew Mayle says the fact that the appellate judges have not yet rendered their decision could be good news for his client.

"Every decision is handed down (by the court) on its own timetable," said Mayle, adding that the delay in Stinebaugh's case is a little on the long side of typical.

At the crux of the case was a charge related to a sewer line which prosecutors claim was installed by the City of Wapakoneta at Stinebaugh's direction to a home which he had constructed. Testimony during the trial suggested such an occurrence was not in keeping with city ordinances and past practices, which required developers to pay for the installation of sewer lines.

Mayle earlier this week said part of his written and oral arguments to appellate judges focused on his belief that a city ordinance under which Stinebaugh was charged was not applicable. Special prosecutors from the office of Attorney General Dave Yost handled the state's case.

"The prosecutors' theory was completely flawed," Mayle said. "The local ordinance is not relevant and should never have been introduced because it didn't apply."

Mayle also argued in his appeal that Stinebaugh received ineffective representation during his jury trial, claiming that defense attorneys "inexplicably didn't understand the ordinance" the state had used as the basis of its case.

Third District Court of Appeals Judge Mark Miller is the presiding judge in Stinebaugh's appeal, with judges John Willamowski and Juergen Waldick also part of the trio that heard arguments in the case on Sept. 6.

"My guess is that an opinion has been drafted (by the appellate court) and that it's being circulated between the judges for review and comments," Mayle said. "The judges were very engaged during oral arguments, and I think they will want to set a precedent for future cases.

"We are optimistic about this case. We think we have a strong argument for reversal," Mayle said.