Over here at Scene we made some noise last week with our report that Federal prosecutors were brewing up a batch of charges for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, the region’s only Democrat don still standing.
Hours after our dead-tree edition hit the streets, TV crews were jamming up our office digs asking about the scoop. Mason — after not returning our calls — issued a canned denial when jumped by cameras outside his Seven Hills McMansion. Cut to a week later, and the noise volume on Mason continues amplify: the PD recently chimed-in with two good stories combing the murky ethical waters the prosecutor is alleged to prance about in.
On Friday, the paper ran a story directly disputing Mason’s claim that he was in the dark about the three-ring corruption circus going on at the county offices. Maple Heights officials told the paper that they brought evidence of corruption to the prosecutor's office, only to be ignored.
Maple Heights officials, who provided information to county prosecutors, were astounded by Mason's statement.
"That's bullcrap," said Mayor Jeff Lansky. "Somebody didn't prep him. The cover-up continues."
A quartet of Maple Height officials tried exposing school employees who they believed were misusing equipment, personnel and money for personal gain in 1995 — before Mason took office — and in 2001 while Mason was prosecutor.
The complaints, submitted in writing both times, included allegations with specific instances in which district employees and some elected officials — including former board member Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski — used school accounts at local stores as their own.
The second allegation lobed Mason’s way is a familiar one: that this grandmaster of political chess is guilty of using his office to lube-up the election wheels. On Sunday the paper ran a piece spotlighting the hiring timeline of Assistant County Prosecutor Kelli Perk, a lawyer in the office’s civil division. In 2007 Perk was running as a Democrat candidate for a Parma judicial spot. She faced a primary contest against Deanna O’Donnell, a Mason backed candidate, according to the paper. After Perk dropped out of the election, clearing the path for O’Donnell’s win, she later landed a job in Mason’s office.
She already had decided to withdraw from the judicial race when she interviewed for the job in Mason's office on March 13, 2007, she said. But she didn't officially notify the Board of Elections until four days after the interview, according to public records.
Mason's office announced Perk's hire as an assistant prosecutor in the civil division on April 6 of that year.
It's worth noting that Mason has not commented directly on any of the allegations (except when jumped in his driveway), instead hiding behind a layer of flackery.