Wednesday, July 28, 2010

McFaul sentenced to house arrest, not jail: What do you think?

Guess I was wrong when I wrote that it "looks like Gerald McFaul, who ran the Cuyahoga County Jail for 32 years, is going to jail."

Citing the 76-year-old former sheriff's poor health, visiting judge Fred Inderlied sentenced McFaul on Monday to a year of house arrest. He was also fined $21,000 and has to pay $131,000 in restitution.

That's for two felonies and a misdemeanor. McFaul pleaded guilty to forcing deputies to sell tickets to his clambake fundraisers at the Justice Center on county time, pocketing $50,000 in cash from souvenir sales at the clambakes, and appointing his son as a special deputy.

Cleveland Magazine reader Matt Novak of Lyndhurst is mad. After reading about McFaul's statements at his sentencing -- "That's the way things were done," the ex-sheriff said of his crimes -- Novak wrote to us about Michael D. Roberts' July column on the county corruption scandal.

"I recalled your 'Defense Mechanisms' piece," Novak wrote, "especially the victim stance many of the perpetrators took because they were doing 'what everybody else was doing' and that it was business as usual. Add McFaul to that list. I almost don't know where to begin except to say I'm troubled by the no jail time and the message that sends."

I'm curious what other readers think. So I've set up a poll on the right side of this page. Please vote on the sentence you think McFaul should've gotten.

Peeking at the court docket, I noticed one tidbit I haven't seen reported. McFaul can't drink alcohol during his five years' probation, and he's subject to "substance abuse testing at the request of law enforcement."

So a sheriff who downed extreme amounts of liquor on the job is now exiled at home, forced to contemplate his crimes with sober clarity. It may not have the resounding clang of jailing the jailer, but maybe it's a subtler ironic justice.

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