Friday, June 12, 2009

Feds: Kelley bribed with raises to get out of Parma mayor's race

The charges against J. Kevin Kelley include the allegation that he accepted a raise and reduced work hours in his job at the county auditor's office in 2002, in exchange for dropping his plans to run for mayor of Parma in the 2003 election. The deal was allegedly struck by an anonymous elected public official, "PO2."

Perhaps this is obvious, but: the elected official in charge of the auditor's office is the auditor, Frank Russo.

From the charging document:

In or about 2002, KELLEY was running for Mayor, City of Parma, Ohio. P02 told KELLEY that he had met with other members of the Democratic party, and that they wanted KELLEY to withdraw from the mayoral race. At that time, KELLEY was working 35 hours per week in the Auditor's Office, at an annual salary of approximately $58,000. P02 had ultimate authority over KELLEY's work hours and salary.
P02 offered to reduce KELLEY's work hours to 30 hours per week and to increase his annual salary to approximately $75,000, in exchange for KELLEY withdrawing from the mayoral race.
KELLEY withdrew from the race in or about December 2002, and P02 thereafter adjusted KELLEY's compensation. These raises were unnecessary and unjustified, in that they were based on KELLEY's agreement to withdraw from the mayoral race and not based on KELLEY's performance at the Auditor's Office.
196. In exchange for P02 convincing KELLEY to withdraw from the mayoral race, KELLEY's opponent gave a thing of value to a relative of P02.

Update, 3:15 pm: The Plain Dealer interprets that last part as referring to Parma Mayor Dean DePiero's 2004 hiring of Vince Russo, Frank Russo's son. DePiero, caught off guard, tells the PD that Kelley was never officially a candidate and calls Kelley a fabricator. I have a call in to DePiero.

Update, 6/15: Here is a written statement DePiero issued to the press: “I’m shocked at the allegation. What is being alleged about my actions is just not true. I have never been afraid to run against anybody, especially J. Kevin Kelley. I stand by my solid service and reputation as a public official.”

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