Cuyahoga County’s corruption scandal has touched almost every corner of county service except the Prosecutor’s Office. That will change in the coming weeks, according to sources with close ties to county politics. Mason is expected to resign by the second week of October, the sources say. Federal charges against him are expected within the next two months.
“There’s a reason why they’re not included [in the federal indictments] at this point,” says one of the sources, who spoke with Scene on condition of anonymity. “They’re collecting more information.”
Last week, County Auditor Frank Russo pleaded guilty to 21 corruption charges. Commissioner Jimmy Dimora pleaded not guilty to 26 corruption-related charges. Mason, asked why he did nothing to combat the wave of corruption unfolding all around him, told a Plain Dealer reporter that he knew nothing about it.
But according to Scene sources, Mason played his own role for years, using his political power to rally support for himself and his favored candidates, basing hiring decisions on volunteer efforts, and keeping shadow employees on the county payroll.
According to sources, “team players” on Mason’s staff — those who routinely shilled for the prosecutor’s pet candidates and causes — were the first in line for advancement and pay raises. Such efforts were always conducted off county resources such as e-mail, unlike the more brazen fund-raising campaigns of disgraced Sheriff Gerald McFaul. “And it was always insulated from Bill himself,” one source says, adding that campaign managers and other volunteers coordinated the efforts. “Is it corruption? No. But it’s definitely not right.
“This is a storm he’s seen coming. He’s had people in place, and he knows the FBI is watching.”
Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Cleveland office of the FBI, declined comment on the ongoing corruption investigation or Mason. The federal prosecutor’s office also declined comment through spokesman Mike Tobin.
Mason’s office did not return Scene’s calls seeking comment.