Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A "grandstanding" request (by Stark County commissioners) got a "grandstanding" response, no?

Obviously, Stark County Auditor Kim Perez was going to exonerate himself from any obligation whatsoever to "push, push, push" to get to the bottom of mismatches of Frustaci-provided data with auditor in-house data.

Key language in Perez's report is this: 
“There is a difference between business and friendship.”  ... Gary wasn’t going to be able to give me that information. I did what I was supposed to do. I went to the state auditors.”
What has not been exhaustively explored by the one-newspaper-town Repository is the extent of the friendship between Perez, Zeigler, and Frustaci and how, if at all, that factored into the failure to catch the Frustaci theft of $2.46 million in county funds.

It appears to the SCPR that  Perez and Zeigler are using de jure (legal) structures of government as cover for themselves in building a case that they did everything the law requires of them in the performance of their duties.

Will this strategy work?

Thomas Marcelli's (Craig T. Conley, as legal counsel) "for the Stark County taxpayers" lawsuit to recover monies from Treasurer Zeigler threatens to open a legal "pandora's box" into a far ranging probe into the entire Frustaci matter.

How so?

In the discovery process , as provided for in legal procedure law, Zeigler and Perez among others will potentially have to submit to "under oath" questioning by Conley.  The SCPR believes that Conley will leave "no stone uncovered," if allowed to proceed.

Stark Countians should be keenly interested in Conley being the lead counsel for the lawsuit.  It is unclear as of the writing of this blog that he will be, in the end.  Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero has a "first right of refusal."

In a prior blog, the SCPR has asked Ferrero to step aside in favor of Conley.

If Zeigler fights the the lawsuit (which he gives every indication that he will), then the discovery process provides Stark Countians with their best chance to get into the "unofficial" side of the matter and the personal relationships of the various parties as to how those relationships may have affected, if at all, the official side performance of various county officials.

It is not always the case that "there is a difference between business and friendship."  Sometimes friendships subsume business and businesslike decisions are not made.

It is this aspect of the Frustaci matter that Conley questioning could help ferret out or alternatively confirm that friendships did not affect the performance of official duties.

The Report would accept the results of a Conley lead inquiry and believes that Stark Countians would too.

Another Perez statement that deserves vetting is this:  “We’re only going to get an original of the fraudulent document." (so says Perez).


Not if you go to the Stark County public via the media and put pressure on Zeigler to authorize the bank to provide its original.

But they are friends.  So says Perez.  Is a friend going to be willing to publicly put Zeigler on the spot?  Probably not.

Then you have this goody from the Young article (see cite below):
Despite his longtime friendship with the county treasurer, Perez never approached Zeigler about the disparities between the two offices.
Of course, Perez could have used his friendship to the advantage of the Stark County taxpayers in another way.  "Come on bud, something is not right about the numbers we're (the auditor's office) getting from Vince.  Go to the bank with me and authorize the bank to provide my office with original source bank statements."

Perez tells Kelli Young of The Rep (County auditor:  Probe finds no fault with his office) July 13, 2010, to wit:
But Perez said he doesn’t believe obtaining original source records from the treasurer’s office would have helped detect Frustaci’s crimes.
A legal opinion written by Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Ross Rhodes that accompanies Perez’s report states that the auditor must rely on the accuracy of the treasurer’s documents.
So which is it?

Even if Perez had gotten original source bank statements, they don't tell the tale on a mismatch between treasury/auditor accountings?

Or, he couldn't insist on original source statements because Rhodes said:  "the auditor MUST (emphasis added) rely on the accuracy of the treasurer's documents.

And, of course, Rhodes should be grilled about his "must rely on the accuracy of the treasurer's document." 

Since Young didn't ask the critical questions, will the commissioners at today's meeting?

Don't count on it.

The SCPR believes that the county commissioners just want this problem to go away as does the Stark County "organized" leadership of the Democratic Party.

The SCPR sees the call for the Perez report, the report itself and the collateral work as being ineffective to get to the heart of assigning responsibility.

As matters stand right now, The Report thinks the Stark County public should take this whole exercise as being one rather large, concerted action to white wash the matter!!!

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