Our friends at Auburntownship.org are on fire. This is another great article illustrating the lack of transparency by elected officials in Geauga County, and how one citizen can make a difference. Hats off to Ms. Susan Daniels for her tenacity to take on Geauga’s County Prosecutor.
For Geaugans who have tried to follow the actions of County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, successor to the position when “Just Dave” Joyce assumed the position of US Representative, it may have become apparent that Flaiz’s budget appears to utilize extra county funds annually with the hiring of “special” investigators, “outside” prosecutors, and forensic accounting services with a surprising lack of convictions in spite of numerous indictments announced to print media. Perhaps the biggest, but not the only, example of this grandstanding has occurred with the $1.8 million or more theft from the office of the former auditor and his Automated Data Processing commission, first reported in the fall of 2017 and extending for most of 2018. Flaiz’s actions resulted, readers will recall, in slaps to the wrist of the then Auditor, Frank Gliha, with the one misdemeanor conviction of “dereliction of duty” and the resulting prohibition of running for office for four years while he maintains his Geauga County Republican Central Committee position to be able to vote on insider Republican politics.
In connection with that theft of county funds and Flaiz’s issuance of 334 felonious indictments, the name a Stefanie Stewart and IterSource Corporation are also notable for the facts that co-defendant Stefanie Stewart was able, with the help of her Cleveland attorney, Kimberly Corral, in phoenix-like fashion to walk away with one misdemeanor and the likelihood of escaping repayment of more than $400,000 in funds belonging to Geauga County. One other defendant from Itersource has been miraculously absolved of any criminal responsibility. The remaining defendant comes up for trial next month under Judge David M. Ondrey with doubtful criminal consequences.
Local investigator Susan Daniels joins the illustrious group of those confronting Flaiz in trial court. She was compelled to file a writ of mandamus, 19M000156, against Flaiz when her requests for public information were repeatedly unanswered during 2018. Those requests involved, among other queries, information regarding Geauga County Prosecutor Office employee, Craig Young, who is also known to many as a Chester Township employee. When those requests remained unanswered or refused with no other explanation from Flaiz and his Information Officer, Assistant Prosecutor Susan Wieland, Daniels tried once more, on December 26, 2018, with “a second request, since the first one was ignored.” When Wieland responded on January 2, 2019, for Flaiz, “Your requests #2 and 3 are overly broad, Daniels responded in writing, “Apparently, a judge will have to determine if any request is overly broad” and hired the same Cleveland attorney, Kimberly Corral. to file a Verified Complaint for Writ of Mandamus on February 20, 2019.
The offshoot of that Verified Complaint was Flaiz’s hiring of two attorneys, Todd Raskin and Frank Scialdone, both of the law firm most notably known to be partnered by former Geauga County Republican Chairman and current Board of Elections President, Ed Ryder, all at Geauga County taxpayer expense. . .while Ms. Daniels was funding her own litigation. Additionally, Flaiz demanded a jury trial with pre-trial hearing not to happen until December 2019. So much for the rights of taxpayers to transparency and speedy justice.
The process dragged on at a dull pace until Flaiz’s two taxpayer-paid attorneys filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on May 20, 2019, not communicating to the Trial Judge, Carolyn Paschke, that the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office had already responded to a substantively identical public information request filed by William Marshall of the national entity known as Judicial Watch on April 2, 2019. The May 17, 2019, response to Mr. Marshall noted in part, “We will comply with our request as soon as possible, [sic], however, given the volume of records this may take another 30-45 days.” This writer expects that the public information request was completed by the end of June, 2019. Flaiz and the Prosecutor’s Office were apparently unaware of public officer training sessions conducted by the State Auditor’s Office. These sessions advise public officers that once a public entity awards public information requests to anyone, that office must honor requests for the same information to everyone, that is, Susan Daniels.”
Nevertheless, Flaiz and his Ryder-employed attorneys milked the system. They filed their May 20, 2019, Motion for Summary Judgment. Attorney Corral filed her Brief in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Relator’s Motion for Order Requiring Respondent to Pay Relator’s Costs (Civil Rule 56E). Still paid for on the Geauga County dime, Flaiz attorneys Scialdone and Rankin filed Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment on June 24, 2019. If their brief resulted in the dismissal of Daniels’ Mandamus, then Flaiz would avoid any further scrutiny for alleged inappropriate behavior for failure to observe Ohio Constitutional policy outlining rules of transparency and public information requests.
Judge Carolyn Paschke filed judgment on the issue of Summary Judgment on Monday, July 22, 2019. She ruled at the end of 28 days to deny Flaiz’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The trial procedure, set for pre-trial hearing in December, after the outcome of November elections, remains, in the opinion of this writer, a delay of justice in light of the award of extensive records regarding Prosecutor Office employee Craig Young, about a month ago.
The clear and succinct resolution is the granting of Susan Daniels’ public information requests and a financial award for the delays in time and violations of procedure by Flaiz’s office. In the meantime, we commend the professionalism and skill of Attorney Kimberly Kendall Corral in routing Flaiz, not once, but twice. It remains our fervent hope that Ms. Daniels will be awarded due justice– on a timely basis without ludicrous further expense to Geauga County taxpayers.