Hillsboro mayor indicted on four felonies

A Highland County grand jury on Tuesday indicted Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings on four felony counts related to election falsification, theft and tampering with evidence.

Hastings was served with a notice of the indictments while he was having lunch at Bob Evans in Hillsboro.

The indictments follow a seven-month investigation into allegations ranging from forgery to obstructing official business to theft in office based on the use of a city dumpster. The indictments were in line with details that emerged from various affidavits and search warrants reported in recent months by The Times-Gazette after the probe began last December.

Hastings’ administrative assistant, Debbie Sansone, was also known to be under investigation, but so far no indictments have been released in that regard.

When grand jury indictments were released Tuesday as usual to The Times-Gazette following the grand jury meeting, Hastings was not listed among them.

But while he was having lunch at Bob Evans, a deputy asked him to step outside, presented him with the notice of indictments, and told him to appear at the Highland County Justice Center before July 27 to be fingerprinted and photographed, the mayor said later. It is unknown why the indictments against him were not included with the others on the list.

State Auditor Dave Yost, in a press release, said, “Mr. Hastings has long complained about the length of time a careful, proper investigation takes. That investigation is now complete, and the evidence will be made public appropriately, in a court of law. I am confident the jury of his peers will find that evidence amounts to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Hastings said Tuesday, “I am only guilty of trying to represent our citizens without the consent of an established political structure.”

Hastings’ attorney, Jim Boulger of Chillicothe, said Tuesday he had received a copy of the indictments, but “I’ll know a lot more after discovery, which I’m sure they’ll deliver promptly” after the arraignment. “At this point I can only speculate what underlies the counts,” he said.