Monday, August 16, 2010


UPDATE:  9:00 AM

Former Canton Mayor Janet Creighton (and currently a candidate for Stark County commissioner versus sitting Commissioner Steve Meeks) tells the SCPR that she believes that FirstMerit did a "for the public good" and "let's get the matter behind us"  at the same time act in refunding the $230,000 in county money that former Stark County treasury Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci has admitted to stealing from a Stark County taxpayer treasury account.

She points out that because of the proximity of county officials (in this case treasury officials) to FirstMerit's downtown branch, it is inevitable that close relationships are bound to develop between officials and bank employees.

Moreover, she says that it is well known that Vince Frustaci is a highly personable individual and that a number of people have fallen under his charms.

To the SCPR, the Creighton take on Frustaci and his ability to do what virtually no other person would be able to pull off does have plausibility to it.

If Creighton's take is the accurate description of what happened, then you can bet that FirstMerit's top executives have held (post the Frustaci episode) training sessions with the downtown based officials and staff to instill a sense of separation between bank officials and public officials.

After all, this is a business association!


How could it happen?  This is the question Stark Countians are asking themselves and scratching their heads over? 

How could anyone, including a government official (the then Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci) walk into a bank with checks (2) drawn on a Stark Treasury bank account made payable to the bank in the total amount of $230,000 and walk out with cash?

Well, here is one spin on it from Attorney Dennis Thompson (one of Zeigler's stable of lawyers):


Last week Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero announced that FirstMerit (apparently out of the goodness of its corporate "heart") decided to reimburse Stark County the $230,000 plus interest.

Does anyone in Stark County believe that FirstMerit coughed up $230 grand out of community spiritedness? Or would most Stark citizens find the suggestion preposterous?

Could it be, as Thompson suggests, that a FirstMerit bank official (not a teller) was involved with Frustaci to facilitate him walking out of the bank with $125,000 on one occasion and $105,000 on another on a concocted story about assisting law enforcement officials in a drug bust?

Is FirstMerit protecting one of its higher level officials from further scrutiny on its notion that once the county gets its money back, then law enforcement officials would be less inclined to pursue further investigation of the matter?

Or was the repayment designed to protect FirstMerit's future business with Stark County?  Prosecutor Ferrero is reported in a recent Repository story to have said that FirstMerit "handles the bulk of the county's accounts."

So far as the SCPR is concerned, the question raised by Thompson's suggestion has not been satisfactorily answered by federal or Stark County law enforcement officials.

And, as readers will see in the accompanying video of Prosecutor Ferrero answering questions after the Zeigler preliminary injunction hearing on August 13th, he is relying on the work done by the United States Attorneys office concluding that there was no criminal conduct by any FirstMerit employee in the Frustaci saga.

So there you have it folks.

To say it again, neither Stark County or federal law enforcement  seem to have gotten to the bottom of Frustaci's FirstMerit episode.

At least not in enough detail to be plausible to the Stark County public.

And what the failure does is to further deteriorate the public's confidence in government's ability to get answers.  Of late, Stark County government, in particular, is short on answers that make sense to John Q. and Mary Public.

The Frustaci/FirstMerit episode apparently will remain "a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma."

So much for law enforcement's ability to get to the bottom of matters. 

Here is the Ferrero video.

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