Commercial Point, OH – The mayor of the village of Commercial Point is facing a slew of charges after he threatened and intimidated a man who reported him for illegally using a commercial dumpster.
An employee of Westport Homes, a housing development construction company, witnessed Commercial Point Mayor Gary Joiner illegally filling a trash dumpster at the Chestnut Commons construction site on July 9, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
David Baker told police that he confronted Joiner and told him he could not put his refuse in the Westport Homes dumpsters.
“Do you know who the f--k I am?” Baker said the mayor asked him.
Then the mayor told Baker that he was “messing with the wrong guy,” according to the complaint filed in Circleville Municipal Court.
In the complaint, Baker said that when he told Joiner that the dumpsters were not for public use, the mayor told Baker he could do whatever he wanted and that he would stop the building on Westport’s projects, according to the statement Baker wrote for the court.
The employee contacted the police and filed a complaint, but when the mayor found out, he took a police officer and a village employee over to Baker’s place of business and questioned him, court documents said, according to the Scioto Post.
The officer interviewed Baker with everybody in the room and asked questions that had been prepared in advance by Joiner, the Scioto Post reported.
Afraid he would lose his job if he pursued the complaint against the mayor, Baker tried to deny his original allegations.
Later, the police went back and interviewed him without the mayor’s entourage, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Commercial Point Police Sergeant John Murphy conducted the second interview alone with the witness and the narrative dramatically changed.
“The victim stated that he was intimidated by the Mayor, that he knew his employer and felt that he had to lie in order to prevent him from losing his job,” Sgt. Murphy wrote in the charging documents filed with the court.
“[He said] that the interview conducted the day before made him scared of the Mayor. He stated that he lied when telling the officer it was not the Mayor and that he only did it in fear,” the sergeant wrote.
Commercial Point Police Chief Adam Jordan said he wasn’t thrilled to be in a position to arrest his de facto boss, the mayor of Commercial Point.
“It’s a position I do not want to be in,” Chief Jordan told WCMH. “I hate it. Nobody wants to be put into this type of position, no matter what their job is because the mayor is ultimately my supervisor, however, I do have a job to do and there’s no title of a person that’s going to stop me from doing my job.”
In the police report, the Commercial Point Police Department said it notified the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Ohio Attorney General's office, and the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office and asked for help with the investigation.
On Thursday, Joiner appeared in Circleville Municipal Court where he was charged with two counts of obstruction of official business, littering – unauthorized use of a litter receptacle, criminal trespass, coercion, and two counts of intimidation, the Scioto Post reported.
Intimidation is a third-degree felony that carries a maximum of 36 months in jail or a $10,000 fine, according to the Scioto Post.
In an interview as he was led to a police car in handcuffs, the mayor told WCMH he had no intention of resigning his position.
Village Solicitor Mike Hess said he would have to research how the arrest might affect Joiner maintaining his position as mayor.
Joiner was the second mayor to be charged in Pickaway County in less than two weeks.
After he served the mayor, Sgt. Mick served New Holland Interim Police Chief David Conrad in his office with a court summons for the charges against him, and was fired on the spot, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Betzko filed a motion to waive his appearance on Aug. 1, and has a pre-trial hearing set for the following week.
Conrad, who has been suspended from his interim police chief position, waived his hearing and the charges have been sent to Pickaway County Prosecutor Judy Wolford to seek an indictment.