Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings is one of eight people who have written letters to a federal judge on behalf of Bob Lambert in advance of Lambert’s sentencing on Friday for felony convictions on charges related to child pornography.
Hastings said Wednesday he knew the letter could result in criticism, but he wrote it at Lambert’s request based on their 36-year friendship.
“I don’t abandon my friends,” said Hastings. “There’s a tendency in our politically correct society that if somebody has done something you don’t agree with, you have to hate them for everything. I won’t do that. I don’t profess to be a particularly religious person, but at age 63 I have learned forgiveness. We’re all flawed people.”
The mayor said part of him did not want to write the letter, but “I didn’t want to abandon him more than I didn’t want to write the letter.”
Hastings signed the letter with “Mayor, City of Hillsboro, Ohio,” under his signature, but he said he did so to identify his occupation, as others did in their letters, not to make it an official mayoral document. The letter was not written on city stationary.
In his letter, dated Dec. 20, Hastings wrote, “When I think of Bob’s character, the first thing that comes to mind is that he’s a kind person. He has always been considerate when dealing with others. He is, at times, selfless to a fault.”
Hastings’ letter mentions Lambert’s volunteerism, including doing tax returns for low-income people at no charge.
Hastings also wrote that Lambert is an honest person, stating, “Many times over the years he has been entrusted with not only money and assets of mine, but in his work with non-profit agencies, he’s been trustworthy in managing their assets.”
The mayor wrote that even though Lambert has been long divorced, “I have always been struck by his dedication to his children.”
Lambert’s son was among others who wrote letters on Lambert’s behalf.
Hastings concluded, “When I consider his value as a citizen, I would say that (he) has far more to offer society on the ‘outside’ where he can be his productive self than being put away where his good deeds will be missed.”
The federal prosecutor in the case is seeking a prison sentence of more than 16 years for Lambert, the former director of the Visitors Bureau of Highland County, while the defense attorneys in the case are asking for a sentence of no more than 5 years.
United States District Court Judge Susan J. Dlott will sentence Lambert on Friday in the Southern District Court of Ohio in Cincinnati.
In a federal court appearance last July, Lambert, 64, pled guilty to two federal charges, while two other charges were dismissed. Lambert has remained free on home confinement.
Lambert was arrested at his Hillsboro home on Aug. 9, 2016, after the Hillsboro Police Department received information regarding “criminal activity involving sexual acts with minors at a residence in the 400 block of East Main Street,” according to a press release at the time from HPD. “During this investigation officers received information that led to a search warrant being served” at Lambert’s residence, police said.
Police had originally charged Lambert with second-degree felony illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material or performance, and fifth-degree felony pandering obscenity with a minor, according to court records.
The local charges were dropped after Lambert was indicted in September 2016 by a federal grand jury on two counts of producing or attempting to produce child pornography, and one count each of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.