This 44112 News photo shows former "First Couple" Gary and Shalom Norton while they were living well off East Cleveland and Cleveland taxpayers.

Recalled ex-East Cleveland mayor and wife dissolve marriage

This Facebook photo from Vanessa Veals’ page shows her enjoying a moment at an event with the recalled ex-East Cleveland mayor. The two were alleged to have been caught in a compromising position at Forest Hill Park. Gary Norton took the highly unusual step of giving Veal a nearly $10,000 raise after she reported a payroll check she’d cash as stolen and got another to cash. He said she was “worth” the extra money. Now she’s accused of forging the community development director’s name on a contract that benefited the ex-mayor who gave her more money instead of prosecution.

Cleveland school teacher Shalom Norton’s marriage to recalled ex-East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton was dissolved by Domestic Relations Judge Tonya Jones on September 18, 2018.  The two have entered a child support agreement.   

Judge Jones, wife of Cleveland councilman Joe Jones, lifted the protection order one of the former marriage partners sought against the other.  There’s no record of a domestic violence complaint on file with Cleveland or East Cleveland’s municipal courts.  Shalom confronted another woman at the county administration when Norton was an aide to ex-commissioner Peter Lawson Jones as he was accused of being involved in an “office romance” with her.  The “Norton’s” have already gone their separate “married” ways.

Norton hasn’t been qualified to vote at the 2120 Newbury Road address in East Cleveland as a resident since he started living with his father in Cleveland on Wade Park before the couple filed to have their marriage dissolved.  He’ll continue to knowingly and recklessly violate election laws should he attempt to vote in Precinct 3C.   Her address is listed at the home that’s been foreclosed on twice.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish appointed Norton to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board despite knowing East Cleveland voters recalled him for misconduct in office and financial mismanagement.  This writer, as the city’s former mayor, kept East Cleveland out of fiscal emergency for 4 years.  Norton created a $9 million deficit after inheriting a near-balanced budget. His mismanagement returned the city to fiscal emergency in 33 months.

George Michael Riley’s relationship with Gary Norton resulted in the opening of an illegal construction and demolition debris landfill in a residential neighborhood.

According to an ex-Norton girlfriend named “Nikki”, he now gets to openly live the “true Morehouse man” life he wanted before the school kicked him out for failing grades after 3 years; and before he was married and a father.

The trouble is Norton’s dissolved marriage on September 18 came right before federal agents arrested another alleged ex-girlfriend for signing the community development director’s name to a demolition contract that benefited the ex-mayor. 

Vanessa Veal, secretary to chief Michael Cardilli, was escorted from her home on in Euclid by federal agents on October 3rd.  EJBNEWS confirmed that Veal secretly forged community development director Melran Leach’s name on a federally-funded demolition contract that would have benefited Norton.

Norton, as mayor, was reported to HUD by former employees for steering demolition contracts to his frat brothers and George Michael Riley.  Riley owned two demolition companies and operated an illegal landfill called Arco on Noble Road.  The employees also spoke to FBI agents while he was still in office.

Riley and Norton joined with recalled council president Thomas Wheeler, and now mayor Brandon King, to rig the passage of an ordinance that would let Riley open his illegal landfill behind residential homes on Noble Road in 2014.   

The ordinance had been placed in ex-councilman Mansell Baker’s committee.  Wheeler misused the authority of the council president’s office to pull the legislation from Baker’s committee and schedule a special council meeting at 1 p.m. to pressure council to pass it.  Norton lied to council and said the money for the land bank property he wanted Riley to have was needed to meet payroll.   The ordinance instructed Riley to prepare the Noble Road site for redevelopment. 

Humiliating alleged relationships with other women may have been the last straw for Shalom Norton in dealing with the father of their three daughters.

Riley, instead, demolished structures worth about $3 million in scrap steel and got Norton to sell council on his using the land for a “recycling facility” where stored property would be removed within 24-hours. Council did not know as a “legislative body” that Norton secretly signed a quit claim title to Riley within three months after he was authorized only to redevelop the mercury-contaminated land General Electric formerly used to make light bulbs or return it to the city.

The con resulted in Riley letting Pete & Pete dump thousands of tons of solid waste at the facility; and Jim Rokakis and Gus Frangos of the Cuyahoga County landbank dump 5-stories worth of highly-toxic and cancer-causing construction and demolition debris.  They dumped this shit behind homes; within 1000 feet of Collinwood High School; and within 500 feet of an East Cleveland charter elementary school and senior citizen high-rise. 

Thomas Wheeler served as council president with Brandon King as vice president when the two conspired with Gary Norton to rig an ordinance that let George Michael Riley open a toxic and illegal landfill behind residential homes on Noble Road.  Wheeler was recalled with Norton in 2014.

Non-smoker Barbara Garner died of lung cancer with the dump in her back yard.  Ruthie Yarbrough lived within 6 blocks of the dump and contracted a mysterious cancer.  Noble Road resident Willie Morrow contracted cancer after living across the street from the dump site for the past 4 years.

Norton’s former girlfriend, Nikki, described his relationship with Riley as close.  Norton, she claimed, was giving her $700 a week in cash from a brown paper bag full of cash he was distributing during the time he interacted with Riley as mayor.  

Nikki and Norton fell-out over Veal when she questioned him about a sexually-transmitted disease.  His answer didn’t satisfy the “other woman” so she texted personal pictures of his penis to this writer to demonstrate how he was playing with himself and her while at home and supposed to be working.  The shocking disclosure of their relationship and his sex organ, and perhaps another child for the philandering mayor, was revealed in the East Cleveland Tattler.

Sources say federal agents have already documented numerous calls between the Noble Road players and Riley.  Riley and Frangos were “particularly close” a source confirmed.

Federal and state law enforcement agents raided Riley’s office last November 2017 and took boxes of information and computers.  Riley has been alleged to be “singing like a bird” to federal agents to lessen the time he knows he’ll be spending in jail.

The federal investigation of her former cheating husband would have dragged Shalom into another scandal as a Cleveland school teacher who was demoted from being a principal before she was caught stealing from her colleagues’ professional association.

Court records show Shalom Norton’s aggravated theft offense occurred on December 1, 2013.  She spent over $2000 of the principal’s association’s money on the mayor and the first couple’s 3 daughters for Christmas gifts using the organization’s credit card. 

Between her own $94,000 in wages, and the $105,000 a year Norton was taking from an illegal ordinance that let him knock off $65,000 a year as safety director before voters took it from him, the couple was earning over $200,000 a year.  Norton had also cashed in $24,000 between September and December 2013 of allegedly “unused” time.  At over $225,000 in one year earnings, stealing over $2000 from her principal colleagues seemed unusually greedy.

Shalom was arrested by Lyndhurst police on July 22, 2015 for theft and aggravated theft.  She was indicted on August 6, 2015. She was jailed, arraigned and posted a $1500 personal bond on August 19. She pled guilty on August 25 and was placed in a diversion program by Common Pleas Judge David Matia.

The case was left open while she made restitution of $260 a month.  Her lawyer was Willa Hemmons, who worked for her husband as a contracted and unsworn law director and prosecuting attorney; more benefits for her from East Cleveland taxpayers.  Currently, Shalom Norton’s criminal record is sealed.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.