Former Deputy Mayor Steve Casey is providing affidavit testimony in the racketeering case against the three-term Mayor Byron W. Brown at the crux of corruption charges that could send him to prison. The testimony also represents the shattering of the political machine that elected Brown — and makes the 2017 Democratic Primary a competitive contest expected to include a slew of candidates.
Brown is likely to forgo a reelection effort. The election calendar and his trial calendar make a reelection campaign largely implausible.
Casey asserts that Brown insisted that Rev. Richard Stenhouse be hired to serve as ‘the face’ of a 50-unit affordable housing project in the Cold Springs neighborhood developed by Cleveland-based NRP Properties. Stenhouse, a prominent African American minister, has paid a settlement in the case but admitted no wrongdoing.
Casey asserts that Brown became irritated when he questioned the need for Stenhouse to serve as the face of the $12 million project. NRP Properties claims that Brown demanded that Stenhouse receive an $80,000 consulting fee on the project. When that was not forthcoming, the project was denied approval.
In the affidavit, Casey calls the Mayor inconsistent. Brown claims that he ended up opposing NRP’s project because of its ‘scattered site’ design. At the same time, he supported a different but similar ‘scattered site’ development elsewhere in the city.
“I questioned whether there was any need for Rev. Stenhouse to have a role on the project,” the affidavit reads. “At that point, Mayor Brown became irritated and his position pivoted from requiring a role for Rev. Stenhouse to Mayor Brown expressing disapproval of the project because it was scattered site and rent to own.”
“His concerns about scattered site and rent to own had never been expressed to me before,” Casey testified. “When I challenged Mayor Brown about this inconsistency, he dismissed my concern.”
Casey confirms that Brown instructed him to kill the development.
NRP Properties is calling the testimony “further evidence of the wrongful conduct the mayor engaged in.”
The city’s new defense team — hired after spending more than $600,000 thus far on the city’s taxpayer funded defense — filed a motion to kill the lawsuit. The motion claims the Mayor is protected by ‘legislative immunity.’ NRP’s lawyers say that the argument was a delaying tactic to avoid further depositions.
Casey is known to be cooperating with the FBI.