Coffland eyes jury trial

BELLAIRE — Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland seeks a jury trial to address misdemeanor charges filed against him last year by Ohio Investigative Unit officers, but a trial date must be set.

Employees of Belmont County Eastern Division Court said a jury trial for Coffland was first set to take place Feb. 12, but it has been continued because Coffland’s attorney, Patrick Cassidy, has a conflict that day. The trial date has not yet been rescheduled.

Monroe County Common Pleas Judge James Peters will preside over the trial as a visiting judge, and Thomas Hampton will serve as special prosecutor.

Coffland still faces three misdemeanor charges stemming from incidents at his Tiger Pub bar in Shadyside early April 1, when officers from the Ohio Investigative Unit entered his bar to check for sales to underage patrons. These charges were put on hold as Coffland faced a felony charge of assault on a peace officer – an Ohio Investigative Unit officer – on July 20 at Jamboree In The Hills.

Coffland was acquitted of the felony charge on Oct. 19.

Testimony during the felony trial indicated agents entered the Tiger Pub just before 2 a.m. April 1 and began checking patrons’ identification for signs of underage alcohol sales. Coffland was cited after he alerted patrons Ohio Investigative Unit officers were present in the bar and that he was closing then – about 20 minutes prior to his regular closing time.

Coffland and his son, Matthew B. Coffland, were charged by the Ohio Investigative Unit officers with the following misdemeanors: knowingly or recklessly hindering or obstructing an agent or employee of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control; knowingly – with purpose to hinder the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another for a crime – warning others of impending discovery or apprehension; and knowingly and without privilege – with the purpose to prevent, obstruct or delay the performance by a public official of an authorized act – performing an act that hampered or impeded a public official in the performance of the public official’s duties.

Charges against both Cofflands are to be heard in court at the same time.

Coffland was acquitted of throwing a beer can at newly hired Ohio Investigative Unit Officer Donald Germany at JITH.

During his testimony, Germany told the jury he was not present at the April 1 investigation at the Tiger Pub – but he was asked to enter the bar when officers went there again in June to check for underage drinking. They did not cite anyone at the Tiger Pub for underage drinking that night, he said.