Monday, June 27, 2011


Stark Countians clearly remember that on April 1, 2009 it was revealed that Treasurer Zeigler discovered that his Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen $2.46 million (federal judge John Adams has said he believes that Frustaci actually took $2.96 million) from the county treasury.  Of course, Zeigler fired Frustaci immediately.  And Frustaci pled guilty and is serving 10 years in federal prison.

While Zeigler himself was exonerated by county and federal prosecutors of an criminal culpability, the State of Ohio Auditor's office found that Zeigler was deficient on a number of bases in having procedures in place to prevent an employee from making off with county money.

Stark County commissioners moved to remove Zeigler from office on the authority of Ohio Revised Code Sections (ORC) 321.07 and 321.08 which gave commissioners "permission" to remove on the fact that money came up missing while Zeigler was treasurer.

Here are a couple of videos to refresh SCPR readers on the actual proceedings wherein the commissioners prepared to and actually removed Zeigler.

As it turns out, the then Stark County Commissioners Todd Bosley, Pete Ferguson (he remains a commissioner) and Steve Meeks were legally wrong (so says the Ohio Supreme Court)  in removing Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler from office pursuant to the Chapter 300 statutory provisions.

Of course, the commissioners were relying on Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero's legal advice in proceeding under ORC 321.37 and 321.28.

The high court was saying in effect via the language "is unconstitutional on its face," that Prosecutor Ferrero miscalculated in allowing the commissioners to proceed under 321.37 and 38.

The SCPR would go one step further and say that the Ohio General Assembly messed up in not fixing this obviously unconstitutional law years ago.

Notice the dates that the Legislature last dealt with these code sections:

1985 and 1953.  Hmm?

The Ohio Revised Code is sorely in need of revision.  Not only on constitutionally "on the face of it" problematical provisions like 321.37/38, but also across the board to update/remove out-of-date provisions like Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court Judge Taryn Heath (head of the Citizen Review Taskforce on unfunded mandates) brought forward (22 of them - just scratching the surface) back in March at a work session of the Stark County commissioners.

So why don't state Reps Kirk Schuring, Christina Hagan, Stephen Slesnick and state Sen Scott Oelslager get moving on setting up a continuing legislative taskforce to comb through the ORC and cure the defects and the out-of-dateness?

Yesterday, the SCPR talked with former Commissioner Bosley about the reasons the commissioners proceeded under ORC 321.37/38.  Interesting.  He laid much of the blame at the feet of local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley.

Bosley said that Conley was on the telephone with him for seeming hours without end pushing, pressing and cajoling him and his fellows to move forward on 321.37/38 and even asked for commissioners to appoint him the lead attorney on the matter.

The Report does not buy the Bosley argument. 

Yes, Conley did push.  But as The Report remembers.  It appeared that Ferrero was never going to get moving. 

Neither Bosley nor Ferguson recalls Ferrero bringing up the availability of using ORC Sections 3.07 and 3.08, to wit:

A major problem with the ORC 3.08/07 approach is that do so would require the collecting 20,912 valid Stark County voter signatures.  Not impossible, by any stretch.  But nonetheless "real work!"

Proceeding that way certainly would have cured the ORC 321.38 (an administrative process that the Supreme Court says does not qualify to be quasi judicial/administrative) "due process of law" problem.

And, had the people of Stark County prevailed before either a judge or jury, the county would not be facing "back wages, front wages and wrongful termination" damages that Zeigler's attorneys say they are looking at going after.  (Supreme Court rules that Zeigler should get his job back, Kelli Young and Shane Hoover, The Repository, 06/23/2001).

One can only imagine the Stark County public's reaction should Zeigler collect hundreds of thousands of dollars if not in the seven figures ($1,000,000 or more)!!!

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