The defendant said he was set up by authorities for calling attention to corrupt activities.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- A convicted robber accused in the May death of a 71-year-old Struthers man says he has been framed by investigators and unfairly characterized in press accounts.
Michael J. Hogan, 36, who police say lived on Forest Ridge Drive in Boardman, is charged with murder and aggravated robbery in the death of John K. Ruble Sr. Hogan is accused of running down Ruble with a Cadillac.
Investigators said Hogan tried to steal the purse of Ruble's wife from the couple's car as they deposited items at the recycling center behind the fire station on South Avenue. When Ruble tried to stop the thief, he was run down.
In a July 3 letter sent to The Vindicator from the Mahoning County jail, Hogan asserts his innocence.
"I'm very angered by the relentless negativity shed on me. ... This situation has been so hyped up in the press and media," Hogan says in the three-page handwritten letter. "I feel it is very wrong and also extremely premature to use this time to convict me and paint a monstrous picture of me until such time the facts be made known."
Hogan is being held without bond in the murder case. He has pleaded innocent.
The Vindicator has reported information on Ruble's death, Hogan's current charges and a listing of the suspect's criminal convictions, which date back to 1989. He has been convicted of theft, robbery, receiving stolen property, breaking and entering and assault.
In the murder investigation, police confiscated a Cadillac registered to Hogan the day after Ruble's death. It matches a description provided by witnesses. Witnesses also have identified Hogan, from photographs, as the car's driver at the recycling center.
Investigators also believe that a belt loop and hairs found on the underside of the Cadillac were torn from Ruble.
But Hogan said he is being framed.
"This is extremely an attempt for Boardman police officials and other law-enforcement agencies to set me up for reasons of their own due to past wrongdoings I once pointed out to Congressman James Traficant -- which goes back to wrongdoing and intimidations by local FBI agents when they were investigating Prosecutor Paul Gains' shooting," Hogan writes.
"I feel these police agencies have finally figured they have a way ... to get rid of Michael J. Hogan, who has been a thorn in their side."
Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains was shot in December 1996 by mob hit man Mark A. Batcho. Hogan told a Vindicator reporter in March 2001 that FBI agents had used him for more than three years to build a case against Batcho and then put his life in danger by reneging on a deal to safeguard him.
Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, had been collecting affidavits at the time from people who claimed corruption within the FBI in preparation for a federal indictment. He was convicted in April of 10 felony charges including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.
A 'made' suspect
Hogan, in his letter, said that investigators "made" him a suspect after learning that his mother lived down the street from the recycling center, at the Forest Ridge address. His mother, Beverly Hogan, has said parole officers prohibited her son from staying at the address and he lived on Myrtle Avenue, Youngstown.
Hogan further said that he became a suspect after being mentioned to police by his parole officer, who Hogan said turned the Cadillac in to investigators.
He also suggests items may have been planted on the vehicle as investigators waited for a warrant to search the vehicle in the days after it was confiscated.
Another point made by Hogan involves an original police description of the man who killed Ruble as being slender, very short and in his early 20s with a pointed nose and dark hair. Hogan says he is 36, with gray hair and is 5 feet 10 inches tall.
"It goes to really show all Youngstown residents that corruption and corrupt police agencies still thrive in Mahoning County," Hogan says. "I ... feel for the victim's family in all this -- that police would rather play games with people's lives than to bring a true suspect in and give this family some dignity and respect."
In a separate matter, Hogan filed a complaint saying that a deputy in the county jail slapped him, slammed him against a wall and threw him to the floor. Lt. Howard Faison at the jail deemed the complaint unfounded because witnesses gave a different version of events.