Ohio prosecutor big on hiring family for government jobs

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Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason doesn’t seem to have a good sense of what the term nepotism means, if his record on hiring relatives is any indication. At last count, at least 13 members of his extended family work in local government, including four in his own office.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that by Mason’s own account, he has 119 family members, owing in large part to his 15 brothers and sisters. The Plain Dealer examined public records for their story and found that Mason’s relatives earned more than $2.2 million thus far.

Not included in the total are the monies paid to Mason’s wife Carol, who has billed Parma $36,000 for process-service work since 2007. Mason’s connection with Cleveland suburb dates back to 1991, when he won a city council seat there.

“These people in Cuyahoga County,” said government watchdog Henry Eckhart of Common Cause Ohio, “seem to have a habit of taking in each other’s relatives and getting them jobs.”

Some other details provided by the Plain Dealer:

• The county engineer hired brother Edward Mason in 2006 as a sewer maintenance worker, a $34,000-a-year job that officials have no record of advertising to the public. Months later, Edward Mason tested for and won a slightly higher-paying job in the office. And in 2009, he resigned, then was rehired a week later for a $68,000-a-year job as a carpenter.

• Niece Melinda Kowalski got her first public job in Parma in 1996. She was a summer intern for O’Malley from 2000 to 2003 before her uncle hired her, first as a law clerk, then as an assistant prosecutor. After several raises that brought her pay to $52,000 a year, she resigned in 2008. Then-Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat, hired her in 2009. She remains on the payroll as an assistant attorney general under new Republican boss Mike DeWine.

• Former Parma Treasurer Jack Krise Jr., who made Mason’s brother Michael his deputy in 1991, was hired in 2005 as an administrative assistant in the prosecutor’s office.

• Shannon DiBacco Bodach, hired in 2010, makes $28,000 a year as a full-time Mason paralegal despite listing no legal education or training when applying. Bodach, who was engaged to Mason’s nephew at the time, listed two retail jobs and an associate’s degree in massotherapy.

Despite many of the positions filled by Mason relatives were never publicly advertised, Mason said in a statement, “I, of course, take full responsibility for all those who work for me. I do not hire people because of who they are nor do I discriminate against them for those reasons.

“I ensure that the people who work for me are of the highest ethical caliber, qualified, and hardworking and motivated. The composition of my staff reflects this principle.”

The Plain Dealer

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