Monday, September 9, 2013


It has been since early this year that local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has been pursuing Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione on Forchione's order requiring a defendant convicted upon his guilty plea to pay $5,000 (rather than to the Stark County treasury for the benefit of the county general fund:  as required by law) to a charity.

The SCPR does examine Conley's motives for pursuing Forchione (in the linked prior blog above) inasmuch as the two have a legal history that predates the case dealt with in the link.

But beyond that question, one would think that when Forchione retrieved the money and the Stark County clerk of courts Nancy Reinbold forwarded the $5,000 to Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar for deposit in Stark County's general fund that such would be the end of the matter.

Well to think that of Craig T. Conley is not to know Craig T. Conley.

Conley tells the SCPR that even if he did have a revenge motive (which he denies that he has) against Forchione, it is irrelevant.

The triumphant issue, he says, is pure and simple a question of the "rule of law."

The Stark County Political Report's detailed familiarity on Conley and his unmatched Stark County civic activism only goes back to December, 2008 and his picking up on (in early 2009) on the action of the-then Stark County commissioners Democrats Todd Bosley, Tom Harmon and Republican Jane Vignos and their "imposing" a one-half percent (0.5%) sales tax on Stark Countians ostensibly for the purpose of fixing what was said at the time to be Stark County's broken 9-1-1 emergency call receiving and dispatch operations.

It made no difference at all that the "imposed" tax "seems - on the face of it" to have been made for a worthy project.

As it turned out, Conley et al learned during the campaign that not only was money (0.25%) of the "imposed" tax for fixing 9-1-1; the remaining 0.25% was destined for the county general fund.  However, county officials were talking very little if at all about the general fund aspect of the tax increase.

For Conley-then and Conley-now (Forchione), there is a proper way to do things.

While it certainly was within the legal rights for Bosley, Harmon and Vignos to have "imposed" the sales tax, their action was subject to review by the citizens of Stark County and Conley stepped forward and became the "brains of the operation" and successfully, in November, 2009, pulled off an overwhelming election victory over Bosley and friends including most Stark County office holders who undoubtedly were in favor of retaining the tax revenue.

An ironic twist to Conley-then and Conley-now is that Conley-then's action had the effect of denying (long-term) monies to the county general fund from the "imposed tax," however, in Forchione his action benefited the county general fund.

The point being?

It is not a question of the substantive merit or demerit of the cause, but a question of imperiality, and, in the case of Forchione, a question of the lawfulness of what he did.

Besides the 2009 sales tax issue and the Forchione matter, Craig T. Conley has been annoying - to say the least - various Stark County sited officials regularly (e.g. Zeigler, Kim Perez, Randy, Gonazalez, John Ferrero, Tim Swanson, and Joe Martuccio, to name some - not all- of them) since the SCPR has focused on his civic/political activity.

The latest thing that Conley is into is his representing a now Columbus-based (former Stark Countian) by the name of Louis Demis in Demis' quest to have criminal charges (a fourth degree felony - theft in office) on his affidavit alleging that in diverting the $5,000 away from the Stark County treasury initially, Judge Forchione committed criminal offense alleged.

On April 23rd of this year, visiting judge Michael McNulty found the Demis affidavit to be "unfounded" as a matter of law.

There couldn't have been a happier man in all of Stark County when Craig Conley learned "yes" his client Louis Demis wanted to appeal the McNulty decision.

And file an appeal Conley did on behalf of client Demis on May 15, 2013.

Since then the respective counsel (Akron prosecutor Craig Morgan for the state of Ohio) and, of course, Conley for Demis have been trading legal briefs.

And so now the stage is set for Conley to show once again how determined and tenacious he is for any cause, any client.

Conley, in the view of the SCPR, sets out smartly the issues in the case set to be decided by the 5th District Court of Appeals (which primarily sits in Canton - the court is located in the Stark County Office Building), to wit:

As anyone who is familiar with "probable cause," the threshold for meeting that standard is rather low.

Of course, conviction is rather another matter which we all know is "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Even if Conley on behalf of Demis were to compel - through legal process (i.e. a successful appeal) , a successful prosecution of Judge Forchione, The Report thinks, is rather unlikely.

And The Report believes that conviction is not the "real" motivation driving Conley himself.

Yours truly thinks that Conley's determination and tenaciousness is borne of this commitment to the "rule of law" and that nobody, no matter what their station in life is, should not be amenable to legal processes.

Even those who disagree with Conley as to the merits of the question as to whether or not Judge Frank Forchione should be charged per the Demis affidavit should be impressed with his commitment to the "rule of law."

And to his determination and tenaciousness!

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