Trial for Coffland Misdemeanor To Be Set

A brief pretrial conference in the misdemeanor case involving Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland took place Tuesday in Belmont County Eastern Division Court.

Visiting Judge James Peters of Monroe Country met with counsel in chambers only for about five minutes. Coffland was not present.

Special Prosecutor Thomas Hampton said the group agreed to a second pretrial hearing to take place by phone within the next “couple of weeks,” and this would likely occur sometime around Dec. 18. At that time, a trial date could be scheduled, he noted.

Coffland faces three misdemeanor charges stemming from incidents at his Tiger Pub bar in Shadyside early on 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 spoke with the agents, then told an employee to announce to customers that agents were on the premises and he was closing the bar early.

After this, 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.