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2 Cuyahoga County employees placed on administrative leave in wake of investigation

Cuyahoga County
Posted at 1:53 PM, Feb 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-21 14:37:38-05

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has placed two employees on administrative leave in the wake of an investigation by prosecutors that involves county officials and documents dealing with Westlake-based information management company Hyland software.

Budish announced on Wednesday his decision to place Chief Information and Transformation Officer Scot Rourke and IT General Counsel and Director of Special Initiatives Emily McNeeley on administrative leave.

However, he said his administration is not aware of any wrongdoing by the two members of his staff. 

In a statement released by the county, Budish said his office will be hiring an independent forensic investigator to make sure all documents that are needed by the prosecutor are provided.

RELATED: Prosecutor's office subpoenas records of Cuyahoga County officials

“As the Cuyahoga County Executive, I take my oath of office very seriously, and will not tolerate any breach of the public trust.  My administration and I are fully committed to discovering any wrongdoing by any county employee and will be fully assisting the investigation being conducted by our County Prosecutor in every way possible.

To that end, my office will be taking multiple actions to ensure that the integrity of all documents sought by the prosecutor is maintained.  First, my office will be immediately hiring an independent forensic investigator to make sure that all information sought in this investigation is fully secured and provided promptly to the prosecutor. 

Second, I have made the difficult decision to place Scot Rourke and Emily McNeeley on administrative leave.   To be clear, both had previously consulted with the Inspector General, and my administration is not aware of any wrongdoing by these two members of our staff.  But, we are taking all precautions available to make sure that the integrity of the investigation and the documents sought by the prosecutor are maintained.

Further, we recognize that our County has been operating under different sets of rules for different employees.   That stops now.   I will be immediately requesting that County Council eliminate all special compensation “perks” from the proposed personnel handbook.  Further, we will be immediately requiring all employees to fill out hourly timesheets exclusively through the MyHR system, and we will be submitting to Council a policy concerning training and education programs that applies to all county employees.   Moving forward, I am instructing Earl Leiken, when he becomes new Chief of Staff, to review all county policies to ensure that they are being applied evenly and fairly for all our employees.

I want to make it perfectly clear that none of these steps should be viewed as a criticism of Chief of Staff Sharon Sobol Jordan.  She is a person of high integrity and worked very hard to lead this county to great new achievements.  

Finally, I want to make it crystal clear: nothing is more important than maintaining the public trust between our residents and the County Government.  We will treat each of our employees equitably and fairly, and we expect nothing less than the highest standards of ethical conduct.  These steps outlined today are designed to ensure that there is no question about the policies, procedures, or conduct of our County Government or its employees.”

The subpoena was sent to the county's law director Robert Triozzi on Jan. 24. The prosecutor's office requested documentation regarding Rourke and McNeeley. Investigators are looking for contracts and financial documents between the county and Hyland Software.

McNeeley and Rourke's employee files are also being sought after by the prosecutor.

In a separate subpoena filed on Feb. 9, investigators also sought financial documents related to Sharon Sobol Jordan, the former chief of staff for Budish.

This new probe comes nearly 10 years after the FBI first raided the halls of Cuyahoga County government on July 28, 2008.

It was a corruption scandal that ultimately sent 40 public officials to prison and resulted in more than 60 convictions.

Among the most prominent—former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, who is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence, and former auditor Frank Russo, serving a 22-year sentence.

And it prompted voters in 2009 to approve a new form of county government—replacing county commissioners with an 11 member county council headed by a county executive that took over in 2011.

The prosecutor's office declined to comment when asked about the investigation.