UPDATED: AT 2:30 P.M.
COMMISSIONER THOMAS BERNABEI
THE STARK CO. COMMISSIONERS
PROSECUTOR JOHN FERREO'S
GEORGE T. MAIER
ON BEHALF OF
STARK CO. TAXPAYERS
The Stark County Political Report has learned (weather permitting) that Stark County resident Thomas M. Marcelli will be filing a civil lawsuit today against "ousted-from-the-sheriff's office" George T. Maier to recover for Stark County taxpayers sums received/spent by Maier during his time (February 11, 2013 through November 6, 2013) at 4500 Atlantic Boulevard.
Marcelli's attorney, Craig T. Conley, back on November 12th sent Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero demanding that he seek recovery of monies received by and paid by or on behalf of Maier.
Ferrero declined to do so on his own initiative.
He did offer to join with the Stark County commissioners in requesting the Stark County Court of Common Pleas to appoint a "special prosecutor" to assess whether or not legal action be initiated to recover Conley thinks is some $120,000 that ought to be retrieved from Maier and restored to county revenues for the benefit of Stark County taxpayers.
However, after last Wednesday's regular weekly meeting, Commissioner Tom Bernabei tells the SCPR in the following video that the commissioners to be in the nature of "an informational letter" of Ferrero's willingness but not an "actual" request that the commissioners join him.
Bernabei added that the commissioners saw no need to pursue Maier for recovery of taxpayer funds and therefore would not be taking Ferrero up on his offer.
In the lawsuit, the SCPR has reason to believe that the following allegations will be made:
- During Maier's unlawful and void ab initio [from the beginning] tenure as Sheriff, he was, with taxpayer funds, was paid salary and benefits as though he were lawfully Sheriff; i.e., Maier was, upon information and belief, and was compensated in the total amount amount of $88,511.75,
- [D]uring Maier's unlawful and void ab initio tenure as Sheriff, he caused taxpayer funds to be expended to change and "re-brand" with his name inter alia [among other things] building and vehicle signage and stationery, and in doing so, Maier, upon information and belief, used $13,671.37 in public funds,
- [D]uring Maier's unlawful and void ab initio tenure as Sheriff, a bond was, with taxpayer funds, obtained for him at, upon information and belief, a cost of $1,399.88,
- [D]uring Maier's unlawful and void ab initio tenure as Sheriff, his attorney's fees related to Swanson quo warranto action, with taxpayer funds, were directly paid or reimbursed to him in the amount of, upon information and belief, of $20,000
Conley (a conservative Republican) is an excellent attorney his his own right and has considerable experience in bringing taxpayer lawsuits.
The two know each other well and are said to have a history in engaging each other on various and sundry political and philosophical issues (Schulman is a liberal Democrat) in a number of encounters over the years.
Moreover, Schulman is one of Stark County's foremost Democrats who serves as president of Canton City Council and is currently one of a team of Stark County attorneys (i.e. Warren Price [of Schulman's firm], Steve Okey and Michael Thompson) representing the Stark County Democratic Party and its chairman Randy Gonzalez in a mandamus lawsuit filed by interim sheriff Tim Swanson and Lieutenant Lou Darrow in the Ohio Supreme Court on November 22nd.
Of course, the Stark County Political Report will be covering this political/legal drama as it unfolds - in thoroughgoing detail.
The November 22nd action is a follow on to the high court's ruling on November 6th (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto) wherein the court removed Maier from the sheriff's office and ordered the Stark Dems' Central Committee to re-do it February 5, 2013 original appointment.
At dispute in the mandamus is whether or not the articulated, in the Swanson v. Maier decision "qualification date" of February 6, 20 is binding on the Stark Dems in its re-do meeting scheduled for December 11th.
But that is "all beside the point" as far as Conley is concerned inasmuch as he believes that by the Swanson v. Maier decision Maier was never "as a matter of law" sheriff of Stark County and therefore was not entitled to be paid direct or on his behalf or for him to spend any taxpayer dollars that are tied to his personhood (i.e. signs/stationery and the like displaying his name as sheriff).
Stark County auditor Alan Harold balked at paying Maier any county monies at the outset of Maier's appointment but the state of Ohio auditor overruled Harold.
It is going to be awfully embarrassing to the state auditor (Republican David Yost) and to the Stark County commissioners if Conley prevails for Marcelli in the name of Stark County's taxpayers.
One of the things that the commissioners have staked their reputation on as county governors is their watchdog function of taxpayer funds.
They are on record now as giving Maier a pass on the need to recover any monies from him.
If Conley/Marcelli succeed, then the commissioners will certainly have a "political" black eye.
Republican commissioner Janet Creighton has taken out a petition to run for reelection.
Could it be that in the run up to the 2014 elections she might have some "explainin" to do?