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The Investigator: Highest paid Cuyahoga County Auditor's office worker under scrutiny

10:24 PM, Sep 28, 2010   |    comments
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Jennifer Justice has not been charged in the federal corruption probe but her description in federal charges matches that of Public Employee 2.

Prosecutors say, in federal charges against others, that PE2 was given pay raises that were "unnecessary and not justified, in that the personnel decisions were based on the agreement between Payne and PO2 (former auditor Frank Russo) and not based on the work performance of PE2 (Justice)."

According to federal documents, PE2 was hired in 2002 as an appraisal specialist. Her $48,000 salary grew to nearly $96,000 in 2008.

Interim Auditor David Reines says she holds the job title of administrator, but supervises nobody. Reines said county employees at her pay scale typically supervise 50 to 75 people.

Prosecutors say Kevin Payne, the former chief of staff for the county engineer's office, paid former auditor Frank Russo up to $5,000 in cash to put Justice on the payroll.

Prosecutors also say that, in exchange for Russo giving Justice raises, Payne gave Russo and his children $7,500 worth of free limousine service.

To obtain raises for Justice, prosecutors say Payne recommended raises for Public Employee 3, who matches the description of Russo's daughter, Richelle.

When the Investigator Tom Meyer tried to question Justice outside the county administration building, co-worker Phil Garofoli ran interference, shoving and pushing Meyer.

Justice declined comment, saying it's against policy for her to comment.

Reines said that after meeting with Justice on Monday, he learned that she updates the county auditor's website, does some marketing for the office, and is responsible for periodic mass mailings.


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