In case you haven't heard, this isn't the best of times for Ben Suarez, the Canton big- businessman whose multi-tasking enterprises range far and wide and include a couple of well- known Ohio Republican pols.
OK. His company is embroiled in a deepening scandal.
It has reached the critical point where he must appear in the federal court in Cleveland in a couple of weeks under indictment to explain why his top company man, Mike Giorgio, has accused his boss of complicity in a money laundering scheme that would reward Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who represents Suarez's home district, with generous campaign contributions (say, $l00,000 each) if they would intervene in his behalf in a matter to benefit the company.
In fact, Mandel agreed to intervene and wrote to California treasurer Bill Lockyer threatening a suit against that state for investigating Suarez for mislabeling supplements that contained high levels of lead.
Serious? Giorgio, the chief financial officer of Suarez Corp. Industries, has already pleaded guilty in the political version of the fair trade act and is awaiting the court's decision on the length of his jail term and the amount of his fine, which could reach six figures.
In a plea deal, Giorgio has accused Suarez of one of the oldest exchanges of political fund-raising,which had company employes apportion donations to Mandel and Renacci and then be reimbursed for those amounts by Suarez, thus disguising the actual donor in the shadows.
That ain't legal.
The SCI lawyers merely expressed "disappointment" that Giorgio would foul his own nest and insisted in a statement that the company proudly conducts business with "integrity at all times."
As for Mandel and Renacci, they quickly scampered to the weed patch and returned the contributions. from the employes.