Saturday, July 9, 2011


Earlier today, the SCPR received a copy of a five-page letter from local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley to Canton Law Director demanding that Martuccio file misdemeanor charges against reinstated (by the Ohio Supreme Court) Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler.

Zeigler has to be feeling pretty good about having been reinstated by the high court, and perhaps even thinking he has Stark County government by the vitals, in that the Supreme Court found that county commissioners had removed him illegally in that he was not accorded "due process of law" under the removing authority statutes invoked by the commissioners (Ohio Revised Code Sections 321.37 & 321.38).  Accordingly, the removal failed to square up with Article II, Section 38 of the Ohio Constitution.

Ousted treasurer Alex Zumbar has asked the Supreme Court (Court) to reconsider its decision.  The matter is now pending.  But most legal observers do not expect the Court to change its ruling.

Zeigler's attorney has told area media that his client is looking at being paid his back wages and benefits and, perhaps, to file a wrongful termination civil suit against the county.  Moreover, Zeigler is seeking to avoid having to repay the county about $1.5 million (by the SCPR's estimate) in unrecovered losses on account of the theft of by Zeigler's former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci of what is believed to be a total of $2.96 million (Frustaci has admitted to $2.46 million).

Zeigler points out that county and federal prosecutors have exonerated him of any involvement in the theft.

Zeigler goes one step further.  He says that he did nothing wrong in the administration of his office and therefore should not face any civil liability for the losses.

It is the unwillingness of Zeigler to admit that he did not institute procedural safeguards to ensure that events like the Frustaci theft could not happen that drives the likes of Craig Conley into a tizzy.

Conley from the very beginning has pushed authorities (the commissioners, the auditor and John Ferrero, the county prosecutor) to get moving on:  #1 removing Zeigler from office, and #2 recovering any money not covered by bonds and insurance directly from Zeigler himself.

Now that the Ohio Supreme Court has reinstated Zeigler, Conley has put on his legal thinking cap and pushed for either the Stark Republican Party or the Stark Democratic Party to initiate a petition drive pursuant to ORC 3.07/3.08 (which would require about 20,000 valid Stark County voter signatures) as the signatory authority on a complaint filed with the Stark County Court of Common Pleas in order to try Zeigler for removal for alleged nonfeasance.  Zeigler would be entitled to a jury, if he wanted one.

However, both parties have refused to use their central committee structure to collect the needed signatures thus leaving Conley looking for other ways and means to get Zeigler out of office.

His thinking seems to be that of keeping pressure on Zeigler to resign.

There has been talk of a settlement of the lawsuit seeking recovery of losses from Zeigler of the remaining missing money whereby a part of the deal would be Zeigler resigning.

The SCPR has spoken with Law Director Martuccio and he indicates that he has the Conley letters (there is a second one sent this afternoon which provides more details which Conley thinks Martuccio will find helpful in his deliberations) and will be going over them with his two prosecutors who try criminal cases in the Canton Municipal Court.

The Conley/Zeigler face-off is an interesting ongoing phenomenon and is one for Stark Countians to watch closely.

The SCPR believes that Conley is the one Stark Countian who is every bit as pugnacious as many believe Zeigler is and seems to demonstrate.

It could be that Zeigler has met his match in Craig T. Conley!!!

Here is the main Conley letter:

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