The bitter power struggle between Willoughby Hills Mayor Robert Weger and city council took another turn on Tuesday.
Weger's Willoughby Hills Isolated Senior Program for Everyday Relief (WHISPER) is being referred to criminal investigation to the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Ohio State Auditor's Office, and Lake County Job & Family Services on the recommendation of Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson.
According to their investigation of WHISPER, the council concluded the following:
- “The Mayor’s Administrative Assistant, Gloria Majeski, and Councilman Chris Hallum among others affiliated with the City of Willoughby Hills appear to have personally profited from their involvement in WHISPER.”
- “Gloria Majeski appears to have had a history of profiting from her relationship with isolated seniors before establishing the program.”
- “Gloria Majeski, in founding the program and becoming sole administrator of it, gave herself unfettered access to a highly vulnerable population, including multiple seniors’ bank accounts.”
- “Gloria Majeski appears to have facilitated a WHISPER participant’s divorce using attorneys affiliated with the City and then became the man’s legal guardian.”
- “Chris Hallum appears to have a history of acting as a real estate agent for sale of property through WHISPER or other matters in which the City is involved.”
- “Weger’s actions appear to be retaliatory, motivated by his desire to shield WHISPER from scrutiny, and to retaliate against the Council Members who questioned this program and threatened to uncover these apparent abuses of power.”
In February, Willoughby Hills City Council voted to suspend WHISPER pending an investigation into the program. Earlier this month, Weger attempted to fire six of the seven council members for what he termed "gross misconduct, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office."
The lone council member that Weger kept on was Chris Hallum, who was also the only council member to vote no on suspending WHISPER. A judge granted a restraining order against Weger, which halted the firings.
In a letter dated October 12, 2013, Coulson recommended the following to Willoughby Hills Police Chief Chris Collins:
“[E]nough suspicion is raised that further investigation should be undertaken by professional investigators . . . From the information provided, I would recommend at a minimum that you ask the State Auditor’s Office to investigate the Cityof Willoughby Hills Whisper Account and the expenditures and use of the Grange Building. I would ask the Department of Job and Family Services and B.C.I. to investigate the potential elder abuse and/or ‘undue influence’. . .”
You can read the Willoughby Hills City Council report on WHISPER below: