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Former Ohio Sheriff Sentenced to One Year of House Arrest for Theft and Ethics Violations

By Derek Gilna

Gerald T. McFaul was Sheriff of Cuyahoga County, Ohio for decades, but the 76-year old Democrat was contrite as he apologized to the people of Cuyahoga County for theft and ethics violations. He could have been sentenced for up to ten years in jail, but Judge Inderlied chose to sentence him to one year of house arrest, McFaul’s poor health as a mitigating factor. He will be forced to wear an ankle bracelet that will monitor his movements to make sure that he remains at home.

"I am very sorry, and that what I did to my wife and family..." McFaul said at sentencing, where more than 50 of his relatives and friends were in the courtroom.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer conducted an investigation into allegations of criminal wrongdoing that eventually led to his indictment and conviction. McFaul was in office for more than forty years, and had been accused of personally profiting from the operation of the Sheriff's Office. According to the Plain Dealer, "McFaul cheated the county of thousands of dollars by forcing workers to sell tickets to his [fundraising] clambakes while on duty. He admitted he allowed employees to sell the tickets in the justice center. The ethics violation stems from McFaul appointing his son, Gerald Jr., as a special deputy in 1998 so the younger McFaul could perform part-time security work as a deputy...the sheriff [later] rescinded the special-duty status for his son, who is also a sergeant with the Cleveland Metroparks rangers."

It was also noted that McFaul's fall from grace began when he laid off 18 deputies and eliminated the sergeant rank in 2009, while at the same time promoting his niece, his son's best friends, and a buddy from his VFW hall. One unsympathetic current deputy said, "He should have went to jail. He was the chief law enforcement officer. He knew better. He got a sweet deal." Yet another deputy noted: "I am relieved… It's a shame that Lindsay Lohan got more jail time than him. There's some justice done, but I guess we'll have to be satisfied with this."

The judge also gave him a six-month suspended jail sentence, and placed him on five years of probation, and promised that McFaul would serve three years in in prison if he violated the terms of his probation. McFaul pleaded guilty and also agreed to pay a fine of $21,000 and pay $131,000 in restitution.

Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Jeff Lingo, brought in as special prosecutor to handle the case, said that McFaul took advantage of his position to enrich himself: "he took money to use it himself... That is just an act of selfishness. Gerald McFaul took an oath to uphold the law in Ohio. He didn't do that.”

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

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