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Hoyman trial to begin Monday

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Eighty potential jurors will gather Monday morning at the Warren County Courthouse as the trial for former Indianola City Attorney John Hoyman begins.

Hoyman was charged with theft, fraudulent practice and felony misconduct while in office and suspended from his job in 2012 after he allegedly spent six years choosing names at random from a phone book to put on invoices that were used to over bill the city by nearly $90,000 because he did not think the names mattered, according to court documents.

If convicted, Hoyman is facing up to 10 years in prison for the theft charge, five years for the felony misconduct charge and a $10,000 fine for fraudulent practice.

A pretrial conference was held in Polk County Wednesday morning to iron out some last-minute issues.

Hoyman’s lawyer, Mark Weinhardt tried to get statements made by Tina Stuart, who works for the state auditor’s office, taken off the court record.

Weinhardt said Stuart was asked whether Hoyman overbilled the city, which could be a confusing question.

Weinhardt said the question should really be whether Hoyman billed the city for more services than what he provided.

He claims that Hoyman was actually under-billing the city.

According to documents, Hoyman used phony names “because he did not think it mattered,” and Hoyman’s longtime legal assistant said “[t]he defendant was ‘generous’ in his billing and has never billed enough.”

Robert Sand, an attorney representing the state, argued that Hoyman knowingly and repeatedly pulled names out of a phonebook and that is the definition of falsity, which is a basic component of fraudulent misconduct.

Sand said that whether Hoyman is owed more money than what he was paid for is an entirely separate matter and what the court should be looking at is that Hoyman billed the city for cases that he did not work.

Sand then asked the judge to remove some documents containing information about how much money Hoyman charged the city versus how much he charged other private law firms and clients.

Weinhardt argued that the documents show Hoyman was being generous because he was only charging about $90 per hour, rather than the higher hourly rate he normally charged private clients. 

Along with that, Weinhardt said, the 40 pages of invoices prove that Hoyman was in meetings, conferences and held conversations with various people and that he deserved to be paid for the hours that he worked while in those meetings.

Sand said it doesn’t matter if Hoyman was being paid $90 or $300 and added that he has several documents of his own that allegedly show Hoyman continuously asking for a raise from the city.

Judge Rebecca Ebinger said she’ll release written decisions on the issues before the end of the day Friday.

The trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 16 at the Warren County Courthouse.

Hoyman has never admitted to overbilling the city, though he told investigators with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation that his invoices did not accurately reflect his duties.

“I’m [expletive] if you look at the data,” Hoyman allgedly told DCI Investigator Scott Peasley. 

According to an interview with Peasley, which was available in court documents, Peasley said that Hoyman stated the number of hours he worked were similar to the hours that he submitted.

“But he also had no way to substantiate the hours. And I asked him numerous times during that interview how I can substantiate the number of hours that he billed for that week, and he said he couldn’t,” Peasley said.