One of my sources . . .
I have sources. How weird is that?
Where was I? Oh. One of my sources referred me to a truly astounding Scene Magazine article. The article is really about Canton businessman and alleged serial con artist Paul Monea. Monea was the client whose work got Canton attorney Ed Davila sent to prison (the case happened while I worked in Stark County but I had nothing to do with it.) Monea himself has also done Federal time.
Now Monea is under indictment, along with a car dealer named Mickey Miller, for attempting to launder money. The two got caught up in an FBI sting in which undercover agents were posing as bad guys trying to wash drug money. The indictment alleges that Monea and Miller worked together to sell the faux bad guys a 43 1/2 carat diamond and an estate once owned by Mike Tyson.
By the way, Mickey Miller was an institution in the town where I grew up. Mickey Miller, Mike Tyson, Paul Monea, undercover FBI agents and a huge diamond. Is this all weird enough for you yet?
Attorney Jack Morrison's part in all this was to arrange the sale. If the name sounds familiar, it's because Morrison was the attorney who alleged during the Republican Gubernatorial primary that candidate and then-Attorney General Jim Petro had made special counsel assignments specifically contingent on donating to his campaign. Supposedly the FBI was investigating though we haven't heard anything more.
At the time, the allegations hung on Morrison's credibility. He is something of a Grand Old Man both in the Akron bar and the local Republican Party. He is, in fact, party boss Alex Arshinkoff's personal lawyer and a former partner of David Brennan. Lots of people take him at his word, others say he's not to be trusted. That's pretty much standard for a guy rising to that position.
The Scene article notes allegations that Morrison arranged to have cash transferred to the escrow account of Morrison's firm, Amer, Cunningham, for the specific purpose of avoiding FBI scrutiny. What's unclear is whether Morrison knew that the undercover guys were telling Monea and Miller that the money was dirty. If so, he's in trouble. If not, he can say that he was just trying to help his client make what he thought was a legitimate transaction look legitimate to regulators.
According to the Scene article, the Assistant US Attorney on the case plays coy about whether they are looking at Morrison:
- He hasn't been charged with any crime, though Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Bulford gets cryptic when asked whether the lawyer will be indicted. "Some of the statements made by [Paul and Mickey] to the undercover raise some interest in some subjects," he says.
While the papers covered the indictment of Monea, Scene is the first to report Morrison's involvement as far as I can see. That's probably partly because they consider that story to be not yet ripe and partly because the papers didn't go far beyond the press release which didn't mention Morrison.
It will be interesting to see A) where the Feds go with this case and B) whether the allegations against Jim Petro have any legs. And if the answer to B is "no," we probably will never know whether A had anything to do with it.
UPDATE 5/9. Beacon Journal reporter ran across the post recently and wrote to point out that his story on the case had indeed mentioned Morrison's involvement in the case. Apparently the piece was behind the paywall when I searched the ABJ site. In any event, here is a cached version of it.