The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Light shed on Cleveland Plain Dealer mystery

CJR helps us with our puzzlement (July 10) by directing us to a piece in the (hitherto unknown to me) Cleveland Scene

One of the two stories the Plain Dealer had under wraps came from an FBI affidavit seeking a wire-tap on ex-Mayor of Cleveland, Michael R White.

Now, Ohio has been something of a by-word for Dem accusations of dirty dealings, what with those Diebold machines, and Coingate and all.

White, be it noted was a Democrat. And, if it's relevant, black. (And, this being the US, it's always relevant.)

According to the FBI affidavit, White was running quite a racket, extorting money from city contractors.

Of course, for a wire-tap, all you need is probable cause. Rather than balance of probabilities to make a civil suit stick; or proof beyond a reasonable doubt to land a criminal charge.

The Scene's theory is that the Feds are waiting for bagman Nathaniel Gray to be convicted and facing a good long stretch in the hoosegow, whereupon they will make him a very tempting offer.

It also refers to Cleveland's corruption as legendary.

Illinois we know to be a state where corruption knows no distinction of party - it seems that Ohio, too, is bipartisanly wide open.

(Just down the road, in East Cleveland, Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor has been convicted on various charges of racketeering and corruption [1].

The guy, it seems, used to be a Democrat, but switched to Republican!)

All rather puts Tom DeLay's little TRMPAC angle in the shade...

  1. His successor, one Saratha Goggins, apparently stabbed a guy to death in 1982 - she says, in self-defence.

    However, according to this,

    Mayor Saratha Goggins’ original sentence for killing a boyfriend more than two decades ago was up to 25 years in prison.

    But then-Common Pleas Judge Timothy McMonagle gave Goggins a break, allowing her to serve a jail term of 30 days followed by nine months of weekends, a court record shows.

    Nice work, huh? The piece goes on:
    Why McMonagle suspended the prison term is not clear. Now an appellate judge running for a Common Pleas Court seat, McMonagle declined to comment. Goggins also declined through a spokeswoman to be interviewed.
    You don't say!

    This McMonagle was something of a creative jurist:

    As part of her sentence, McMonagle ordered Goggins to serve three years of probation and to pay for Price’s funeral. But he excused most of the payments in 1987 and, in 1991, he agreed to expunge Goggins’ name from court records.
    And that story did appear in the Plain Dealer!


There are more McMonagles returned by a search on McMonagle "east cleveland" than you could shake a stick at. And several of them carry the title of 'judge'.

On the list of results for the November 2004 election in Cuyahoga County - home of a million Democratic sob stories (or so it appeared) two Judge McMonagles appear: Christine McMonagle was returned unopposed as judge for the 8th District Court of Appeals; and Timothy McMonagle for the Common Pleas Court.

(This Nation piece from 1969 features a Judge George J McMonagle. There is also record from 2004 of a Judge Richard McMonagle in the Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court.)

Now, the frequent occurence of an uncommon surname (it's ranked 19,044th on the 1990 Census list) in a single location in a single job category is, in itself, not proof of corruption. Even where that location seems singularly prone to - corruption.

Perhaps the statute of limitations has run out on any Federal or Ohio crimes that Judge Timothy McMonagle and Saratha Goggins may have committed two decades ago.

Perhaps this has something to do with the other thing that the Plain Dealer is holding out on us with?


The small matter of homicide certainly hasn't prevented her advancement in the counsels of her peers: an outfit called NBC-LEO - the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials - has appointed Goggins to its policy committee, according to its newsletter (PDF).

They obviously prize a woman of conviction. (I'm going so far as to assume that the singular noun is appropriate...)

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