Judge Dismisses Charges Against Former Mayor

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) - A judge dismissed bribery and ethics charges against former Avon Lake Mayor Vince Urbin (pictured, right), sentenced to a jail term earlier this year in a related case.

Visiting Judge Mary Cacioppo, hearing the case without a jury, granted a defense motion for dismissal Thursday after the prosecution wrapped up its case.

"No solicitations were made by the defendant of anyone for the purpose of corrupting or tainting or using his influence," she said after reviewing the prosecution's evidence and testimony for an hour.

"Praise God," said a beaming Urbin. The 43-year-old former mayor had faced more than 10 years in prison and a $21,000 fine if found guilty.

Urbin, who resigned as mayor in March, had faced two counts of bribery and one count of restrictions during and after employment.

Prosecutors contended that Urbin asked developers Herman "Bucky" Kopf and James Gamellia to contribute to his legal defense fund while both had projects before the Planning Commission, of which Urbin was a member.

The defense had argued that Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Rosenbaum failed to prove any bribery took place because Urbin returned $2,000 he had accepted from Kopf.

Urbin was convicted in a separate case in February of tampering with evidence and having an unlawful interest in a public contract.

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service during three years of probation. He has not yet served the jail term.

He works now as a manager at a convenience store.

Avon Lake is about 30 miles west of Cleveland.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)