Report Accuses Former Middleburg Heights Mayor Of False Statements In Deposition

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A report from an attorney advising Middleburg Heights City Council accuses former Mayor Gary Starr of lying in a deposition and destroying public records.

The report, prepared by attorney Joe Diemert, is dated Feb. 12. Starr agreed to resign late last year after a lengthy dispute with council.

In an interview Wednesday, Diemert said council hired him in late summer 2018 to investigate issues relating to lawsuits against the mayor filed by the former police chief and other officials.

“Council would ask questions about it, and they were not being given information, they would not be given copies of the settlements, and as a result, they reached out to me,” Diemert said.

According to Diemert’s report, Starr had sought to end the use of polygraph exams on applicants for police jobs. At the time, Diemert wrote, Starr’s son was trying to get a job as a police officer with the city.

According to the report, Starr said under oath in a 2018 deposition that he never wanted to do away with the polygraph test. But according to Diemert’s report, Starr was heard in an audio recording saying he had always opposed polygraphs.

Diemert also wrote that Starr directed the shredding of public documents in the Service Department. The report accused Starr of making recordings of city officials while denying to council that he had recorded anyone without their knowledge.

Starr’s attorney, Steve Dever, said in a phone interview that the former mayor denies all allegations against him.

“He maintains that all of these allegations are not true,” Dever said.

Dever called it “very troubling” that council would go forward with the creation of a document on the investigation, given that they reached a memorandum of understanding with the mayor last year dropping all disputes.

As part of the memorandum, council agreed to end its investigation and both parties pledged not to disparage one another. 

“The Council and the Mayor each agree that neither shall make any statement nor disparage the other or their family members,” the memorandum reads in part. “The Council agrees to acknowledge and recognize the Mayor for his decades of service to the residents of Middleburg Heights.”

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