NEWTON FALLS - A trial date for ex-Mayor Patrick Layshock was pushed back a month following a status conference Tuesday, while attorneys continue arguments over whether Layshock should have even been charged here.
Layshock's attorney, Michael Rossi, filed a motion that states his client shouldn't have been charged in Newton Falls Municipal Court since the political influence allegations centered around a political meeting at the Saratoga Restaurant in downtown Warren.
''The Saratoga isn't in the Newton Falls Municipal Court jurisdiction. And the charges talk about a continuing course of action,'' Rossi said Tuesday.
Rossi and special prosecuting attorney Julie Korte of the Ohio Ethics Commission have been asked to brief their arguments by retired Portage Municipal Judge Barbara Watson, who was called in to hear the case. She will rule on the issue before any jury selection.
Watson also granted a change of venue in the case in May, moving it from here to Portage County in an effort to seat an impartial jury. The judge said she reserved a courtroom in Ravenna for Aug. 13 and 14, but now the trial is scheduled to start there Sept. 10.
Layshock was charged in January with two counts of a first-degree misdemeanor alleging he improperly attempted to aid his brother's business interests while he was mayor.
The charges came after an Ethics Commission investigation, which then recommended the charges be filed by local Law Director and Prosecutor Joe Fritz. The charges allege one violation occurred between Jan. 22 and Feb. 2, 2009, and the second charge pinpoints a timeframe from Feb. 3 to Feb. 23, 2009.
Newton Falls Municipal Judge Philip Vigorito recused himself shortly after charges were filed.
The charges stem from attempts to develop a Forum Health medical center on land owned by Layshock's brother, Kenneth, and a business partner along state Route 534 in the village.
Layshock ''participated directly and indirectly in meetings, discussions, deliberations and other actions intended to benefit the business interests of his brother Kenneth Layshock,'' according to the complaints.
Kenneth Layshock has not been charged with anything.
Kenneth Layshock said in January that he and his business partner had met with officials of Forum Health and several area political and economic leaders for a breakfast meeting Feb. 10, 2009, at Saratoga Restaurant in downtown Warren. He said the intent of the meeting was to determine how to go about obtaining federal stimulus grant money to develop a medical center on the Newton Falls property.
Ken Layshock said in attendance were representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, former state Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood, Ohio Sen. Capri Cafaro, the Trumbull County Planning Commission, the Regional Chamber, former Forum Health Chief Executive Officer Walter ''Buzz'' Pishkur and Ken Layshock's contractor. Also in attendance from Newton Falls were then-Mayor Pat Layshock, city manager Jack Haney, and at least two members of Newton Falls Council.
A short time later, Newton Falls filed an application seeking $631,964 in federal grants for infrastructure and permits that would help enable the medical center to be developed on his property. Ken Layshock said the paperwork was authorized by council and submitted by Haney. The project never came to fruition.
Pat Layshock was recalled by voters in November 2010, removing him from his office and replacing him with current mayor Lyle Waddell.