Misdemeanor Charges Filed Against Hocking County Coroner

By
Debra Tobin - Logan Daily News staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Fri, Jul 25, 2014 11:57 am
Photo Credit: 
Elizabeth Nihiser/Logan Daily News
From 2012: Hocking County coroner Dave Cummin holds a gun similar to the one used in a 1972 killing

Late Wednesday afternoon, five misdemeanor (M-2) charges were filed in Hocking County Municipal Court against Hocking County Coroner Dave Cummin.

He is charged with three counts of dereliction of duty; one count of obstructing official business; and one count of coercion.

According to the paperwork filed in Hocking County Municipal Court, Cummin is charged with allegedly leaving the county without coroner coverage on Jan. 10.

"Russell Swackhammer died unattended and we had difficulty finding his family physician to have him sign off on the death certificate, which was finally done after several hours," according to the court documents explaining the allegations connected to the first count of dereliction of duty.

The second count alleges that Cummin left the county without coroner coverage on July 3 and July 6, "thus resulting in leaving a descendant lie in the Hocking Valley Community Hospital Morgue" from the afternoon of

July 3 until the evening of July 5, court document stated. The Athens County Coroner then had to release the body.

In the third count of dereliction of duty, Cummin is charged with allegedly failing to respond to the scene of the double shooting that occurred July 19 at a cabin at the Wildwoods Backwoods Retreat. One person was found dead in the cabin.

Cummin said he was not in town and told a commissioner "That he didn't have any money in the lab/morgue and would not send the body for autopsy until he had it in writing that the commissioners would transfer the money into that fund," according to the court documents.

It was because of those alleged actions that Cummin was also charged with obstructing official business and coercion.

During a recent Hocking County Commissioners meeting, commissioner Sandy Ogle said that she had not asked Cummin to find a coroner to cover for him, but rather to find someone to cover in his absence.

Cummin stated he has contacted doctors in Hocking County, at the advice of his attorney, and no doctors are willing to cover for him.

Cummin asked at the meeting how the county expects 24/7, 365-day service, when he has four children to take to soccer practices and other places.

In their Tuesday meeting, the commissioners transferred $10,000 to the coroner’s lab and morgue line item, which covers autopsy expenses. The addition brings this year’s lab and morgue allotments to $28,800.
Commissioner John Walker reported receiving a call from Cummin at 10:30 p.m. Saturday in which Cummin said he did not have money in the lab and morgue account and requested an email stating a resolution.

Hocking County Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf authorized the commissioners to give a resolution by phone call, which they did. Commissioners approved him to immediately transport bodies to Columbus.

At their Tuesday meeting, they signed and passed the printed resolution, dated Sunday, July 20. It gave authorization for “David Cummin, Hocking County Coroner to transport bodies immediately to Columbus” and promised to transfer the funds on July 22.

The commissioners stated that they always put money in the lab and morgue fund as it is needed. Commissioners appropriated the additional $10,000 Tuesday morning to try to get through the end of the year, according to Walker

Cummin has argued with the commissioners for the past six months stating they cut his 2014 budget, which caused him to lose his two employees. However, the commissioners did not cut his budget, but they did not approve his requested amount. Cummin received the same amount in his 2014 budget as was appropriated in 2013.

Cummin could not be reached for comment.

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