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Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012 @ 12:22 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 20, 2012 @ 12:22 PM
COLUMBUS — State Rep. Clayton Luckie appeared in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Thursday in the criminal case against him for allegedly diverting $130,000 from his campaign account to personal use.
Franklin County Judge John F. Bender, an expert in campaign finance law, scheduled the case for trial on Jan. 22.
“There are some significant constitutional and legal issues that the court has to address,” said Lloyd Pierre-Louis, Luckie’s defense attorney. “There is no such thing as a slam dunk prosecution or a slam dunk defense. He has a right to a vigorous defense and we intend to pursue that on his behalf.”
The defense’s first step will be to analyze some 3,000 pages of documents — campaign finance reports, bank records and other data — that are the foundation of the prosecution’s case against Luckie.
The Dayton Democrat is facing 45 felony charges and four misdemeanor charges, including theft in office, money laundering, forgery, and tampering with evidence. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said plea deal talks are ongoing but the state will be ready to go to trial if a resolution isn’t reached.
Luckie’s term in the Ohio House ends Dec. 31. He did not resign once the charges were brought against him in October but he canceled plans for stand for re-election and removed his name from the November ballot. Former state senator and fellow Democrat Fred Strahorn ran in Luckie’s place and won.
When asked why Luckie didn’t step down when the charges were brought against him, Pierre-Louis said “We maintain that the presumption of innocence has to be paramount. From a defense standpoint, I’m not going to suggest that there is anything to be read into the decision to stay on a state rep.”
Luckie is accused of siphoning off as much as $130,000 from his campaign account for spending at casinos, jewelry and clothing stores, making a payment on a home equity loan and shifting it into his personal bank accounts between 2007 and 2011. The Federal Bureau of Investigation began examining Luckie after the agency investigated another Democrat in the Ohio House, W. Carlton Weddington, who was sentenced to three years in prison for bribery, election falsification and ethics violations.
Luckie was not available for comment after his court appearance and did not make any statement in open court.