Comedian accused of abusing power as mayor is acquitted

HILLSBORO, Ohio (AP) " A veteran standup comedian accused of abusing his power as mayor of a small Ohio city has been acquitted of all counts.

A Highland County jury on Wednesday found Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings not guilty of a charge of election falsification concerning his residency and of a charge stemming from alleged misuse of city trash bins.

Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove earlier threw out the two other felony counts that Hastings faced.

A special prosecutor from Ohio's auditor's office had told jurors the previous day that Hastings "thought the laws didn't apply to him," The Times-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2flyt94 ) reported. Special prosecutor Robert F. Smith has argued that water records and furnishings show Hastings' real residence is his farm outside the city, not his downtown apartment.

Hastings' attorney, James Boulger, blasted the accusation that Hastings falsified his residency by pointing out that Ohio's attorney general investigated the matter in 2013. Boulger suggested Hastings' political enemies were behind an investigation that began soon after the Republican's re-election to a second term last November.

Hastings, who has appeared on late-night television shows, had been handily re-elected to a second four-year term.

His case was closely watched and debated in Hillsboro, a city of 6,600 people about 60 miles east of Cincinnati.

Cosgrove, a retired Summit County common pleas judge, heard the case after a Highland County judge recused himself.

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Information from: Times-Gazette, http://www.timesgazette.com

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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