EAST CLEVELAND, OH – EJBNEWS learned from East Cleveland police detective Scott Gardner that the cops who took statements from witnesses and exotic dancers at Council Vice President Ernest Smith’s stripfest fundraiser left out how the underaged girls traveled across state lines from Michigan to Ohio; and who transported them.
When EJBNEWS learned of the September 10 event from a city source – while police were taking statements from the women – it was shared the nearly-nude performers didn’t know Smith was an elected official. Smith’s street name to the women he’d hired to dance for him was “Dolla Bill.”
The underaged dancers were from Michigan. The city hall source shared with this writer how Smith or “Dolla Bill” allegedly drove them from Michigan to East Cleveland. Some were allegedly paid by “Dolla Bill” in drugs.
Gardner called this writer from his personal cell phone on October 9. The police captain in charge of East Cleveland’s detective bureau explained that he’d taken charges against Smith to assistant prosecutors Brent Kirvel and James Guitierrez. They declined, Gardner said. He described Prosecutor Michael O’Malley’s public corruption unit as “useless.”
When asked if the information in the charges included the state line border crossing for sexual purposes, Gardner said “no.” There was no information “in the reports” the city’s police generated about how the Michigan dancers arrived in East Cleveland. Gardner said he” personally” was not aware of the “state line” crossing information despite his knowing the teenaged and adult women were from out-of-state.
Assistant East Cleveland prosecutor Heather McCollough expressed awareness of a potential child trafficking component to Smith’s acts when she told a resident during a hallway conversation charges could be filed with both the county and federal prosecuting attorneys. This writer was talking to a city hall visitor when they encountered McCollough in the hallway and asked her about the case prior to Gardner’s visit to the prosecuting attorney.
When this writer publicly questioned McCollough about the lack of felony charges for Smith’s alleged “back to school fundraiser” at a closed bar with underaged strippers she wrote that the prosecutor declined to press felony charges. McCollough appears to have been operating under the belief that the “child trafficking ” information was submitted to Prosecutor Michael O’Malley by Gardner and wasn’t.
Gardner told this writer he would welcome any additional information about the child trafficking information this writer was supplied with the night of the arrest. This writer told Gardner he had statements from each of the teenaged girls and women that includes their addresses and telephone numbers; along with their dates of birth. He was advised to initiate contact on his own instead of waiting.
[NOTE: This writer is East Cleveland’s former mayor. He appointed Scott Gardner to the detective bureau, reluctantly, in 2008 in response to a recommendation by the chief of police. This writer at the time had suspended Gardner once for insubordination. When he realized he was talking to his former appointing authority he expressed words that he agreed with all I’d done since leaving office to expose criminal misconduct among former employees I supervised and elected officials. He said “I know you think I’m a criminal.” This writer’s response was, “I know you’re a criminal.” Gardner was indicted by prosecutors in Medina and Cuyahoga County on felony law violations after this writer left office. He was convicted twice after accepting plea deals for misdemeanors. Instead of being terminated by East Cleveland’s current mayor he was promoted to captain.]