Saturday, July 07, 2001

Ex-sheriff asks for delay in his corruption trial

Lancaster man accused of misspending $300,000

The Associated Press

        LANCASTER, Ohio — A former sheriff has asked that his trial on corruption charges be delayed because he injured his back and is on medication.

        Visiting Judge Richard Markus will consider Gary DeMastry's request Monday in Fairfield County Common Pleas Court. If he does not grant a delay, jury selection will begin Tuesday, special prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt said.

        Mr. DeMastry is accused of misspending more than $300,000 in public money and faces 343 charges. His wife, Penny, who was his bookkeeper, faces 27 charges.

        Special prosecutors oppose the request for a delay. They said a Columbus orthopedic surgeon who examined Mr. DeMastry said his injury wouldn't prevent him from going to trial.

        Defense attorney Max Kravitz said Mr. DeMastry is taking painkillers that would prevent him from getting a fair trial. His doctor, James LeSar, said the medication causes dizziness and drowsiness.

        Mr. DeMastry injured his back when he moved his terminally ill mother- in-law from a bed to a chair. He spent two days in a hospital last week.

        Judge Markus, a retired Cuyahoga County judge, postponed the trial in February at Mr. Kravitz's request because the case involves a large number of charges and Mr. DeMastry had just hired Mr. Kravitz to replace his first attorneys.

        The DeMastrys are accused of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity by spending public money on personal travel, dining and entertainment, and then lying to investigators.

        Because of the large number of charges, only 50 against Mr. DeMastry and 23 against his wife will be addressed in the trial. Special prosecutor Paul Nick said there will be at least two trials.

        Mr. DeMastry lost the Republican primary in 2000 to Dave Phalen, a retired Columbus police lieutenant, who was elected sheriff in November.


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