August 21, 2014

Elyria
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Grafton councilman accused of accepting Cavs tickets, dinner

 

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith

GRAFTON — Outgoing Grafton Village Councilman Tom Smith accepted Cleveland Cavaliers tickets worth $595 in November 2009, according to a summary of the investigation that led to him facing two misdemeanor ethics charges.

The summary, prepared for prosecutors by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and obtained through a public records request by The Chronicle-Telegram, also said that Smith received a meal at the Olive Garden restaurant in Elyria on Oct. 16, 2008, valued at $47.33.

Both the meal and the basketball tickets were paid for by Gregory Telecky, managing partner at Poggemeyer Design Group, a Bowling Green-based engineering firm that has done extensive business with the village over the years, according to the corporate credit card and expense statements.

In an Oct. 5, 2012, interview with a BCI agent, Smith admitted to “requesting and receiving” the tickets, according to the summary. He also admitted that he received more than 10 rounds of golf that were paid for by Poggemeyer, the documents said.

Smith, who lost his re-election bid last month, also acknowledged that he didn’t report the gifts to the village or list them as gifts in campaign finance reports.

The report also detailed a Nov. 13, 2012, interview with retired village Administrator Richard Kowalski, who recalled golfing with Smith in Las Vegas on numerous occasions but didn’t remember whether Poggemeyer paid for the outings.

No charges have been filed against Telecky or Kowalski.

The investigation was sparked when former Grafton Police Chief Lonnie Carroll learned from Patrick Mudge, who served as village administrator until his abrupt resignation earlier this year, about concerns Mudge had regarding which company would receive the village’s engineering contract.

In an undated letter sent by Carroll to BCI, the former chief wrote that a village employee told Mudge that a certain company would be “appointed as always,” because of what they had done for Smith and Kowalski.

The letter, which also was obtained through a public records request, was partially redacted by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office. The name of the company involved was among the items blacked out in the letter.

Carroll wrote that he approached Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will with his concerns, and Will said the Grafton Police Department should handle the investigation. Will has said he recommended Carroll bring in an outside agency to handle the case if he was uncomfortable with the matter being investigated by Grafton police.

Carroll wrote that he was concerned about his department running the investigation.

“Smith has been very vocal about his desire to abolish the Grafton Police Department, as well as the amount of money it cost to run it,” Carroll wrote. “I fear that based on these opinions it could be viewed by some that this department is conducting this investigation in retribution and are (biased), for or against, parties involved.”

Carroll also wrote that he didn’t want to bring in the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office because Smith works there. Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh has said Smith will remain on the job as a corrections officer in the Lorain County Jail until the criminal case against him is completed when an administrative review will be launched.

Grafton Mayor Megan Flanigan fired Carroll in August 2012 but has never explained her reasons for the termination. Smith was among those who voted to support Carroll’s termination at an Aug. 28, 2012, meeting.

Flanigan said this week that the decision to fire Carroll had nothing to do with the Smith investigation.

Neither Smith, who has pleaded not guilty in Elyria Municipal Court to the charges against him, nor his attorney returned calls seeking comment Thursday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • MZee

    I don’t know which is worse… accepting cavs tickets, or the fact they were $575!

    • Jennifer Williams

      It looks like he requested them and accepted them. It is a shame! Maybe he took the mayor and they drove home drunk together??

  • Jennifer Williams

    It seems like there is more problems in Grafton then just the mayor drinking, driving and pill popping. Something smells bad and I am sure more will come out by end of this year!

  • Jeff

    Mayberry meets Manhatten….The soap opera continues

  • Patrick Mudge

    Since nobody bothered to ask me… The statement that was aledgedly told to me about “the company will always be appointed due to XYZ. Is completely 100% false. That never took place and I left due to folks not listening and behavior of others that I disagred with. Feel free to contact me at any time.

  • John Davidson

    If this keeps up everyone in Grafton will be in jail and the village will disappear.

  • GreatRedeemer

    Grafton sure is in the news a lot. When is the Mayors next hearing for her OVI ?

  • KZ14

    Another great story CT, get to work