NEW RICHMOND, Ohio — A Clermont County grand jury indicted a New Richmond man on Monday for allegedly storing decades-old explosive blasting caps in the attic of his historic home.
David Vornholt, who is president of the New Richmond Ohio Business Association, faces one felony and one misdemeanor charge for possessing and failing to secure a dangerous ordnance.
Vornholt is a lifelong resident who once operated a bed and breakfast and guest house in the historic homes he owns on Susanna Way along the village waterfront.
He is now facing a slew of legal troubles related to his properties. In December, New Richmond Village Council voted to declare his home at 208 Susanna Way a public nuisance. It is slated for demolition unless repairs are made.
“It becomes a blight on the neighborhood,” said New Richmond Village Administrator Greg Roberts. “We try to give property owners every opportunity to comply and do the right thing. And when it doesn’t happen, we have to up our enforcement efforts.”
Vornholt declined to comment.
Village officials began receiving complaints about Vornholt’s properties in 2019, Roberts said, and they got much worse last year.
Roberts brought a stack of police and fire calls to Vornholt’s properties to a council committee meeting in November. Those included calls for drug overdoses, reports of theft, domestic violence and drug dealing.
“You are receiving this letter to make you aware of the fact that criminal activity … has occurred at your property ... The nuisance activities that have occurred include felony drug arrests, outstanding warrants, drug overdose death, thefts and suspected drug abuse. I respectfully request your cooperation in stopping the activity that has resulted in your receipt of this letter,” New Richmond Police Chief Mike Couch wrote in a letter to Vornholt on Dec. 7, 2021.
During criminal investigations at the properties, police noticed several fire code violations which they passed along to fire officials, according to police records.
Fire officials noted several code violations at Vornholt’s properties during December inspections including electrical hazards, exposed wiring, mold, standing water, loose railings, an unsafe stairway and significant damage to a ceiling that had large portions missing, according to the citations.
During one inspection on Dec. 16, Fire Chief Vince Bee learned that Vornholt was storing boxes of 30- to 40-year-old blasting caps in the attic of 310 Susanna Way. He called the Cincinnati Bomb Squad, which removed 90 blasting caps while police shut down the street outside, according to documents obtained by the I-Team.
Two months later a grand jury indicted Vornholt.
This is not the only legal trouble that Vornholt is facing. He declared bankruptcy in 2008, 2009, 2014 and most recently in 2020, according to bankruptcy court records.
“The debtor operates a bed-and-breakfast and his business income has been significantly lower since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat this problem, the debtor has adjusted his business model to include more monthly renters, which is compensating for the loss of weekend bed-and-breakfast visitors,” Vornholt’s attorney, Gregory Wetherall wrote in a Sept. 7, 2021 court filing for his current bankruptcy case.
As part of that bankruptcy case, Vornholt is selling a home on Susanna Way. He estimates in court records to owe between $100,000 and $500,000 in debts, according to court records.
Vornholt’s next bankruptcy hearing is set for March 31, and the trustee may file an order to dismiss the case if “if debtor does not pay $3,200 to the trustee,” before then, according to court records.
Vornholt also owes more than $80,000 in delinquent local property taxes, according to the Clermont County auditor’s office.
Meanwhile, New Richmond officials will continue to monitor the condition of Vornholt’s properties.
"The properties, they’re landmarks in this community … they have incredible history and were built in a time when the Industrial Revolution was going on and New Richmond was a strong part of that, when the river was the main artery from East to West," Roberts said. "So they’re very rich in history and they have stories to tell. The story they’re telling right now is not the story we want out there."