Former Toxicologist Sentenced For Lying About Credentials


UPDATED: Tuesday May 18, 2010 11:07 AM

A man accused of lying during a murder trial will spend time in prison after being sentenced on Thursday for falsification.

James Ferguson was charged with two counts of falsification for lying on the stand during a 1990 murder trial. At the time, James was Franklin County's chief toxicologist, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.

Ferguson was a key witness in the Licking County trial of Virginia LeFever, who was convicted of poisoning her husband more than two decades ago.

LeFever has maintained her innocence and attorneys representing her argued that Ferguson's lies should mean a new trial for their client, Kocot reported.

In court, Ferguson admitted he lied about the year he graduated from college, but suggested it really was not that big of a deal.

"With regard to my expertise, I had 20 years of education training and experience," Ferguson said.

Licking County Municipal Court Judge Michael Higgins did not allow Ferguson to downplay the charges.

"People who take that witness stand lie all the time, but we simply don't expect it from public servants and officers of the court," Higgins said.

Ferguson, who served as Franklin County's head toxicologist for 26 years, lied about his qualifications hundreds of times, Kocot reported.

Ferguson told jurors he graduated from The Ohio State University in 1972, but university records reveal he did not earn his degree until 1988, Kocot reported.

He pleaded no contest to two counts of falsification in April. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Kocot reported. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are reviewing the LeFever murder conviction, but a new trial has not yet been granted.

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April 28, 2010: Testimony Of Key Witness Calls Murder Conviction Into Question