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Wayne Baglin found not guilty

July 11, 2003

Barbara Diamond

A jury of eight women and five men exonerated Councilman Wayne Baglin

Thursday on all charges of violating a state government code when he

accepted a commission on the sale of Third Street property to the

city.

Baglin came under investigation after he accepted a $36,000

commission as the exclusive agent for Dorothy and Edgar Hatfield, who

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sold two lots on Third Street to the city. He was indicted by a

county grand jury.

"I called the Baglins and left a message on their phone saying I

was looking forward to continuing to serve on the council with

Wayne," said Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman, who appeared as a witness

during the trial. "I realize they know everything I said in court was

true and I also realize their attorney had to try to make me look bad

and I have no hard feelings about it."

Family members and several friends attended the trial to lend

support to the embattled councilman.

"This has been going on for two years, but it's pretty intense

right now," Baglin's wife, Faye, said Wednesday.

The jury left the courtroom with instructions from Superior Court

Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald to rely on the evidence presented or

stipulated in the courtroom.

Evidence included a contract between Baglin and the clients he

represented in the sale; minutes from council meetings; letters from

the city to Baglin; 29 pages of explanation of eminent domain;

Baglin's telephone records and notations about the calls; a deed

transferring the property from Baglin's clients to the city; and the

escrow instructions that authorized Baglin's $36,000 commission.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta said Baglin thought the city was

going to use eminent domain to acquire property on Third Street,

which would have made it legal for him to accept a commission.

In the end, eminent domain was not used to acquire the property.

Instead the city paid the full asking price.

Eminent domain is the procedure by which a governing body can

obtain a property regardless of whether the owner is willing to sell.

It requires a certified appraiser to evaluate the property and a

court to decide the price.

An appraisal was made at the request of City Manager Kenneth

Frank, but not by a certified appraiser and only for the purposes of

establishing that the Hatfields' $1.8 million asking price was

acceptable, Frank told the jury.

Kohn said he specifically advised Baglin that accepting a

commission could be problematic, but Molfetta contended that was not

a strong enough statement. Kohn also said he sent Baglin a packet of

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