James R. ‘Buster’ Erwin, through his attorney, has dropped his appeal of a judge’s decision that he was not eligible to serve on the Crothersville Town Council.
Erwin was elected to the Crothersville Town Council in November 2007 but ruled ineligible in December to seek or serve in elective office by Jackson Circuit Court Judge William Vance.
Erwin was the second leading vote getter in the Nov. 6 municipal election in Crothersville. However, Karen Mains, a losing candidate, filed a suit contesting Erwin’s eligibility to serve in elective office.
She based her lawsuit on a nearly 20-year old felony charge against Erwin for failing to pay sales taxes collected at his business.
In December 1988 Erwin was charged with 31 counts of failure to remit sales tax, a Class D felony, and entered a guilty plea to a single count reduced to a Class A misdemeanor in 1991.
In her suit, Mains pointed out that Indiana Code 3-8-1-5 concerning candidate eligibility would prevent Erwin from running or serving in elective office because of the felony charge.
That law states that residents who plead guilty or are found guilty of a felony are not eligible for public office. The law also states that anyone charged with a felony which is plea bargained to a misdemeanor does not change their ineligibility.
In a hearing before Judge Vance in late December, Erwin’s plea bargain was ruled to make him ineligible to take a seat on the town council.
In January, Erwin appealed the judge’s decision to the Indiana Appellate Court. At Erwin’s request, the court dismissed the appeal early last month.
Following Vance’s ruling, Karen Mains was appointed to the town council to fill the vacancy resulting from Erwin’s ineligibility.