Mayor-comedian: The wait for abuse of power verdict no joke

Associated Press
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FILE – In this Feb. 19, 2016, file photo, Hillsboro, Ohio, Mayor Drew Hastings, a veteran stand-up comedian, is interviewed at his office in Hillsboro, Ohio. Two-term Hillsboro, Ohio, Mayor Drew Hastings, a veteran stand-up comedian, was found not guilty by a Highland County jury Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, after the Republican politician was accused of abusing his power as mayor of the small Ohio city of some 6,600 people, about 60 miles east of Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

HILLSBORO, Ohio (AP) — A veteran standup comedian who is mayor of a small Ohio town says waiting for the verdict in a criminal case against him was "very scary" and his stress lifted with his acquittal on charges accusing him of abusing his power.

A Highland County jury on Wednesday found Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings not guilty. Hastings was charged with election falsification concerning his residency and other violations stemming from alleged misuse of city trash bins. The judge threw out two other felony counts.

The Republican mayor said after his acquittal that the short reading of the verdict was almost "anticlimactic" compared with the stress he and his family went through for a year, The Times-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2fFzmZI) reported.

"You feel you know how it should go, but that doesn't mean it will," Hastings said.

He thanked his wife "for her strength and for standing by me" and thanked his attorney, who he said "did a good job with a difficult case."

He said his attorney had to sort out the political agenda from the facts.

"At the end of the day, you can't convince a jury on the witch hunt," the mayor said referring to the prosecution's case. "Witch hunts don't leave a lot of fingerprints."

Hastings has appeared on late-night television shows. The criminal investigation began shortly after Hasting's re-election to a second term a year ago.

"The jury heard the evidence and made their decision, and the mayor was exonerated," city council president Lee Koogler said. "The city has to find a way to move forward, and the mayor and council have to work together for the citizens."

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