CHARLESTON – Citing a failure to consider new evidence, an Ohio man is asking a state ethics panel to reconsider his complaint of improper conduct by Gilmer County's prosecuting attorney in his 2005 criminal case.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Sept. 6 dismissed the complaint Dan Bingman filed against Gerry Hough. In her dismissal letter, Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel Jessica Donahue Rhodes, said the information Bingman included in his Aug. 24 complaint of Hough paying one of Bingman's relatives to testify against him, and advertisements Hough placed in the Glenville Democrat-Pathfinder accusing Bingman of "cyberbulling," not only failed to show a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but was also time-barred.
"Nothing in those two (2) documents reflect [sic] any violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct," Rhodes said. "Furthermore, you have not provided any proof that Mr. Hough paid Mrs. Rafferty to testify during the trial."
"Those allegations are far too vague and unclear to discern what actions you believe Mr. Hough has taken that amount to an allegation of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct," Rhodes added. "It appears you have been aware of most of what you allege in your second complaint when your first complaint was filed and two (2) years before the first complaint was filed."
"Thus, your complaint appears to be time-barred," Rhodes said.
Records show, Bingman, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, was indicted in March 2005 by the Gilmer County grand jury on a charge of grand larceny, a felony. He was accused of stealing, and later selling farm equipment, a brush hog, valued at nearly $2,500 on Jan. 31, 2002.
However, a jury on Dec. 14, 2005, convicted Bingman of petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Bingman maintained he should've never been indicted, let alone convicted, since the brush hog was valued at less than $400, and sat idle for over 20 years on property belonging to his family.
In his complaint, Bingman accused Hough of suborning perjury by getting Roanna Rafferty, Bingman's aunt, to testify falsely she had a 1/6th interest in the property. Also, Bingman maintains Hough was aware the value of the brush hog was well below the $1,000 threshold for a grand larceny charge.
The allegations raised in his Aug. 24 complaint were similar to ones raised in a complaint he filed against Hough on Dec. 20, 2007, that was dismissed a month later. However, in his response dated Sept. 8 to their dismissal letter, Bingman said ODC failed to consider two new pieces of evidence included in his recent complaint that came to light last year.
One was a title opinion that was introduced last July in a civil suit showing Rafferty did not own the 1/6th share of the property she claimed. Another was bills received in October for back taxes on the property that, Bingman said the county previously refused to let his family pay.
The title opinion and tax tickets, Bingman says, show that his new complaint against Hough not only falls within the statute of limitations, but also he had no business prosecuting him in what amounted to a family squabble.
"The new evidence in this case proves that it should not be time-barred," Bingman said. "It proves that due diligence was not practiced and a human being suffered severely as a result."
"A case should never be brought to court by a Prosecutor who has not used due diligence to establish the facts," he added. "When Hough could not locate the 1/6th claimed, the court should have been notified (despite his embarrassment) a mistrial declared and perjury charges brought against the Prosecutors [sic] witness in my opinion."
"Because there was no title proof of ownership, the jury, and the court could not know that there was equal ownership in a property dispute that somehow turned into a criminal case, although experts say it should have been a civil action all along."
In response to his letter, Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel Rachel L. Fletcher Cipoletti said ODC was treating Bingman's dissatisfaction of their dismissal of his complaint as an appeal and would be placing it on the agenda for the next meeting of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board's investigative panel. Though she did not say when the next meeting would take place, Cipoletti said she would notify Bingman in writing of their decision.
When reached for a comment about Bingman's complaint prior to its dismissal, Hough said he had yet to see it. However, he said this was Bingman's latest attempt to retry his case.
"Every citizen has a right to complain and have their voice heard somewhere," Hough said. "He's been busy for the last four years reinventing the trial that took place, and his conviction, which was found by a jury of his peers guilty of larceny from his family."