GENEVA — A Western County Court jury on Tuesday acquitted the former treasurer of the Roaming Shores Village homeowner association of several menacing and intimidation charges stemming from his allegedly ongoing dispute with a village resident.
John Martin, formerly of Rock Creek, faced one count of aggravated menacing, two counts of menacing by stalking and two counts of intimidation of a crime victim, witness or attorney — all first-degree misdemeanors spread among three cases. Jurors on Tuesday took less than an hour to return not guilty verdicts on all counts, said Martin’s attorney, Joseph Klammer of Mentor.
“There was nothing about the complaining witness’ testimony that should have been believed,” he told the Star Beacon Wednesday. “The story was borderline absurd and the explanation was nothing short of cluttered. ... My client should never have been charged with this stuff.”
Martin was charged
in April 2017 with
menacing the victim in the case and repeatedly violated bond conditions to have no contact with the resident, then-acting village police chief Dan Bennett told the Star Beacon in October.
The RomeRock Association, the village’s homeowner association, had ongoing zoning disputes with the resident and Martin was “not happy” with their resolution, county prosecutors said in January.
“Mr. Martin would show up at the victim’s house and taunt him and flip him off and threaten him,” Bennett said in October. “In that case in particular, there were threats of physical harm made to the victim.
“Mr. Martin stated he was not acting so much on his own behalf, but on behalf of the association,” he later added.
Bennett said he witnessed the latest incident Sept. 28 and arrested and jailed Martin, after Martin scuffled hand-to-hand with himself and Roaming Shores patrolman William Moss. Neither officer was seriously injured, he said.
The altercation was caught on police body cameras, prosecutors said in January, when Martin was indicted on two fourth-degree felony counts of assault on a peace officer and additional first-degree misdemeanor counts of menacing by stalking and resisting arrest.
Martin is still awaiting a June jury trial in county Common Pleas Court on those charges. But Klammer said Tuesday’s acquittal could influence those proceedings, as jurors have now cleared Martin of the conduct serving as the basis for the felony case.
“I would hope that the prosecutors would rethink everything,” he said. “This has really spiraled out of control.”
But assistant county Prosecutor Gene Barrett, who is set to try Martin’s felony case, begs to differ.
“They’re separate offenses and we feel confident that the evidence will show that Martin did assault the Roaming Shores police officers,” he said Wednesday. “I think it’s a strong case.”
Bennett, who is set to testify in the felony case, said in October the village police department had previous, largely non-violent run-ins with Martin in the past, and know him to have a “short temper.”
Martin did not testify in Tuesday’s trial, Klammer said. Jurors, however, did hear witness testimony from the alleged victim, a neighbor, and four village police officers.
“I am thrilled that a jury finally had the opportunity to hear the absurd allegations of the complaining neighbor and that it found Mr. Martin not guilty of every charge,” he said Wednesday.
The seven-member RomeRock property owners’ association, or RRA, is one of the village’s governing entities — along with the village’s municipal administration — that oversees boat and other recreational registrations and permits, among other things. Everyone who lives in the village must be part of the property owners’ association.
RRA President Tom Sopko could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He declined to comment on the matter in October. However, the RRA’s website, which once identified Martin as treasurer, now lists a new treasurer who was appointed in 2016. Martin no longer appears on the website.
According to court records, Martin has since moved out of county. Prior bond conditions for him to be placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring have been removed.
Follow Justin Dennis on Twitter @justindennis.