Crawford County Prosecutor Responds
“…The Rest of the Story”
By Stanley Flegm,
Crawford County Prosecutor
I read with great interest the open forum letter from Mr. Crall, and defense attorney Geoffrey Stoll’s recent financial analysis of the County Prosecutor’s Office. While I agree with Mr. Stoll that it is important for voters to be informed as they cast their vote for County Prosecutor on March 6, I am disappointed with how Mr. Crall and Mr. Stoll have misrepresented certain budgetary and financial information for the County Prosecutor’s Office. As Paul Harvey always said, here is the “rest of the story.”
Political Rhetoric and Self-Serving Motivation
Before I address specific points, I think it’s fair to question Mr. Stoll’s motivation for supporting my opponent, Mr. Crall. I found Mr. Stoll’s assertions particularly interesting because he has taken the lead for Mr. Crall’s campaign by limiting his political rhetoric to fiscal matters of the Prosecutor’s Office and never comparing the candidates for knowledge, experience or job performance.
Voters need to consider the fact that Mr. Stoll makes a living by defending criminals. It would seem obvious that Mr. Stoll has a self-serving agenda for supporting an individual who does not have a proven record of prosecuting felons or a successful jury trial conviction record. In fact, when Mr. Crall presented his professional record to the Republican Central Committee, he stated that he had only tried (2) cases before a jury during his professional career. Court records indicate that he lost both.
35 Years of Experience and a High Conviction Rate vs. Two Jury Trials
I would be very surprised if Mr. Stoll appreciates my tough on crime, zero tolerance position against criminal activity in our County. It’s not surprising that a defense attorney, who makes a living protecting the legal rights of an accused criminal, isn’t supporting a County Prosecutor whose office has an extremely high rate of jury trial convictions. But it does explain the distorted political rhetoric that has come from both Mr. Crall and Mr. Stoll — in the same way that has taken over many state and national campaigns.
Unlike my opponent and his two jury trials of experience, I have a 35 year career in the legal profession, and have successfully tried both misdemeanor and serious felony cases. My Jury trial experience includes convictions for arson, burglary, robbery and child molestation. As County Prosecutor, I use my experience and knowledge everyday to oversee and set the professional standards for all criminal prosecutions by staff for my office.
The Job Must Come First, Not Political Aspirations
If there is any question about Mr. Crall’s priorities, you only need to look at his actions. As someone who has more than three decades of dedicated public service as a County and City Prosecutor and as a Juvenile Court Magistrate, I am concerned when I see someone who asked the voters in Bucyrus City to re-elect him as City Law Director in November of 2011, turn around just a few weeks later and file petitions to seek yet a different office.
A County Prosecutor CANNOT BE POLITICAL or perceived as being POLITICAL in the management of the Prosecutor’s Office, and voters need to consider the fact that Mr. Crall only recently resigned his position as Republican Party Chairman, and only after he made the decision to run against an incumbent Republican County Prosecutor.
Which Office Does He Really Want And How Strong Can His Commitment To The Job Be?
To further illustrate the disingenuous actions of Mr. Crall, voters should consider that he even held a political fundraiser on October 22, 2011, and the written invitation stated, in part, “Matthew Crall will soon be announcing his run for Crawford County Prosecutor in 2012”. I hope that voters consider the fact that I have chosen a profession that involves the prosecution of criminals and that I have been providing effective leadership, without any personal and political agendas my entire legal career.
Only One Candidate Is Endorsed By Law Enforcement Officers
I would encourage voters to please remember that the County Prosecutor is legally responsible for protecting the citizens of our community, and in that capacity, I am bound under the law to indict those individuals who are accused by law enforcement officials of violating our citizen’s public safety. That’s why I am extremely proud of the fact that I have been endorsed by the County Sheriff and the Galion and Crestline FOP. In contrast, my opponent is not endorsed by any law enforcement official or organization.
There Is No Disparity in What Prosecutors and Attorneys Are Paid By Taxpayers
Despite the assertions of Mr. Stoll and Mr. Crall that my Chief Assistant is paid too much, it is a fact that he is paid $62.71 per hour while Mr. Stoll and Mr. Crall both are paid $60 per hour when being reimbursed by the County for services they provide. The biggest difference is this: my assistant is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week when needed to help protect the citizens of Crawford County.
By law, Mr. Crall, in his PART-TIME capacity as Bucyrus City Prosecutor, is paid by the County the same $60 an hour rate as the defense attorneys, like Mr. Stoll, who are appointed by the Courts to defend accused criminals. In fact, public records indicate that since 2003, Mr. Crall has been paid from the County $84,012. These payments are in addition to the $80,434 that Mr. Crall receives annually from the City of Bucyrus for his TWO PART-TIME positions as City Prosecutor and City Law Director.
No “Raise” But a Pay Increase Of 104.32 Percent
Furthermore, Mr. Crall has claimed that he has “refused a pay raise for the third year in a row;” not disclosing to voters that Mr. Crall’s PART-TIME salary with the City has increased from $39,366 in 2007 to $80,434 in 2012 or as Mr. Stoll might say a, “whopping” 104.32 percent. Voters should not be confused by the fact that these payments from the City are in addition to monies Mr. Crall receives from the County.
As for Mr. Stoll, public records show his law firm has received $302,371 in County taxpayer money since 2007 for providing indigent legal services to defend criminals such as Malcolm Stall, who was convicted in the Siclair home invasion case currently being appealed – at taxpayer’s expense – to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Should Defense Attorneys Make More Than Prosecutors Who Defend The Safety Of Citizens?
Do Mr. Crall and Mr. Stoll want us to believe it would be a better system for taxpayers to pay defense attorneys more per hour for defending accused criminals than the Assistant Prosecutor who is there to protect the safety and interests of our citizens? I would hope not.
I would ask voters to also consider that I have chosen to pay my Chief Assistant a rate of pay that is similar to that established by the County’s overall budgeting authority, the Board of County Commissioners, and that this Chief Assistant has 15 years of successful employment with the County.
As County Prosecutor I have always taken my statutory responsibility for representing and protecting the citizens of this County seriously, and that is why I have chosen to hire highly competent individuals, while still exercising fiscal responsibility.
Don’t Be Misled: My Office Has Been Very Fiscally Responsible
My fiscal responsibility can be demonstrated by reviewing the County’s audited annual financial statements and the expenditures related to the County Prosecutor’s Office. These are the facts:
• Mr. Stoll’s claim that my budget has increased 77.73 percent over the last 10 years is NOT accurate;
• The first year I was responsible for submitting a budget to the County Commissioners was 2003;
• The budgets for 2001 and 2002 belonged to my predecessor;
• Despite double digit increases in county health insurance costs, my office’s actual expenditures have increased, on average, by 3.10 percent, for the nine years between 2003 and 2012;
• The Board of County Commissioners has the legal authority to reduce my budget if it is believed to be excessive; instead, this body has endorsed my candidacy.
Assertions that, so called, “double dipping” is somehow detrimental to the county’s budget are simply not true. Unlike Mr. Crall, I receive one salary for one job, and I have paid the required yearly service credits under the OPERS system, and disclosed the same publically pursuant to Ohio law more than five years ago. I was assured by OPERS that this option does not cost the taxpayers any additional money, nor is it detrimental to the OPERS system. Now this issue is being offered for political gain by Mr. Crall and Mr. Stoll in hopes of diverting attention away from my successful record, and Mr. Crall’s lack of successful record, and lack of endorsements.
Remember This Fact When Casting Your Vote for County Prosecutor
Stan Flegm is the only candidate endorsed by the County Recorder, the County Treasurer, the County Auditor, the County Sheriff and the County Commissioners.
Consolidating Child Support Services Has Provided Revenue for the County General Fund
Mr. Stoll also discussed the Child Support Enforcement Agency, asserting that the monies received by my office for legal services relating to Child Support Enforcement, are “not the same as truly being paid”… and in order for it to be considered real money … the money paid “must come from an outside source.”
In these tough economic times, collaboration with other governmental agencies in an effort to be more efficient with taxpayer money is critical, and pursuing State and Federal reimbursements for work that is already being performed is responsible stewardship.
While these reimbursements are also taxpayer monies, it would be fiscally irresponsible of my office not to participate in a program that helps return federal and state tax dollars to Crawford County. Without these funds, Crawford Countians would still be asked to pay more in local tax dollars to provide these mandated services.
By consolidating these services, my office:
• Has generated more than $400,000 for the county’s general operating fund
• Saved the county the cost of a full-time position by absorbing those duties into my office
• Saved taxpayers more than $70,000 in additional health insurance and retirement benefit costs
Look At the Record of Performance As Well As the Qualifications of Both Candidates
In conclusion, I would encourage voters to consider both candidate’s professional record and licensing before casting their vote:
• Mr. Crall, while claiming to have civil litigation experience, failed to respond to requests for admissions in the recent public records case (Davila v City of Bucyrus), and the Court had no choice but to render a summary judgment for $1.4 million against the taxpayers of Bucyrus
• When Mr. Crall had the legal obligation and authority to remove the former Bucyrus Mayor, the City Council authorized my office to handle this legal matter since Mr. Crall did not want to face the Mayor or his attorneys before a jury in Probate Court. I successfully took care of this case, and the removal was eventually upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court
• I am the only candidate licensed to practice in the Federal Court responsible for Crawford County; a fact vitally important because if the County is sued in Federal Court and the legal costs have to be outsourced to a private firm, those costs are generally $200 per hour
Finally, I would respectfully ask voters: who do you want as your County Prosecutor?
Do you want a County Prosecutor whose main supporters and political advisers are members of the defense bar, or do you want a County Prosecutor who is independent and has a proven record of leadership, knowledge and experience, and who is endorsed by County law enforcement officials and organizations, and many of the County Elected Officeholders?
I can think of no greater honor than being re-elected so I can continue to help protect the people of Crawford County.