The Reason Pilla Left?

Feds investigating Catholic Diocese financial officers.

Bruce Ratner's friends praise his nomination as The Most Loathsome New Yorker. - Getty  Images
Bruce Ratner's friends praise his nomination as The Most Loathsome New Yorker.
When Richard Lennon was named the new bishop of Cleveland's Catholic Diocese last week, a Plain Dealer headline noted that "Lennon has always said yes when asked to do tough jobs." His new job may be his toughest yet.

Though Lennon, a Boston auxiliary bishop, was in the midst of that diocese's massive pedophile scandal, he'll face a new round of problems in Cleveland: the impending indictments of church financial officials.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is reportedly in the midst of an investigation that may involve significant improprieties. Church officials have been accused of creating off-the-book accounts -- some as large as $400,000 -- for their personal use. They also allegedly asked outside contractors to overbill the diocese, then redirect the excess payments to church officials and their designates.

Finally, there is speculation that certain contracts may have benefited the relatives of church leaders, and that "lady friends" of priests were supported by church money, though this could not be confirmed.

Whatever finally arises from the probe, it's bound to be embarrassing. "This is money that comes from little old ladies who put their quarters and their dollars in the plate every week," says one source. "They're giving everything they have."

The U.S. Attorney's Office never comments on ongoing probes. "We can neither confirm nor deny any investigation," says First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards.

The diocese is equally loath to speak. "I don't think we have anything to comment on anyway, until legal action would be taken," says spokesman Bob Tayek.

Yet the news may shed light on Bishop Anthony Pilla's early departure. Pilla is mysteriously leaving his post two years before retirement age, saying only that it is time for change. For the bishop, the best part of that change may be the chance to get out of Dodge.

Can't Jones get a break?
Forget liberal or conservative bias. The media's greatest sin has always been incompetence. Leave it to Cavs guard/media whore Damon Jones to prove the point.

Last month, the maligned gunner had to defend himself against accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman during a party at his Westlake home. The Plain Dealer's headline said Jones had been "implicated" by the 23-year-old. Local TV, the Akron Beacon-Journal, and the Associated Press all ran stories saying the woman had accused Jones. One small problem: The woman never accused Jones of anything.

Westlake Police Captain Guy Turner has repeatedly said that the woman only claimed to be feeling "bodily discomfort," so she went to the hospital. She never told anyone that Jones -- or anyone else at the party -- raped her. "Those outlets made a tremendous leap of faith to call him a suspect," Turner says. "I chose my words very carefully."

But apparently not carefully enough for us morons of the media. Last week, Westlake closed its investigation after test results indicated the woman hadn't been assaulted. The PD buried its update on the back of its Metro section. The Beacon and the AP again ran stories about how Jones would "not be charged" concerning a "woman's claim that he committed a sexual offense against her" -- leaving readers across the country to wonder whether Jones was just another pro who skated on sex allegations.

"That's wrong," Turner says. "She never mentioned a name, never said where, never said why. She never mentioned anybody."

But Beacon Cavs writer Brian Windhorst, author of Facts Are Overrated and other noted journalism texts, has a logical explanation: He read about the test results in the AP's story, and just "used the facts from that . . . As far as what he was accused of and whether there was a complaint, that's out of my realm."

This from the guy who's supposed to be the paper's point man on Cavs coverage.

Outsourcing our scum
New Yorkers may think they're cooler than we are, but when they need someone worthy of mockery, they turn to Cleveland.

The New York Press recently gave Forest City's Bruce Ratner top honors in its annual list of the "50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers." It seems Ratner -- or "this comb-over-mini-Donald," as the magazine affectionately describes him -- hasn't made too many friends in the Big Apple with his $3.5 billion project to turn Brooklyn into an outdoor Tower City.

To make way for a New Jersey Nets arena, as well as high-rise apartments and offices, Ratner has begun razing entire neighborhoods, historic buildings, and family restaurants and shops. There's no telling what could be revealed once the dust settles, but if it's anything like Tower City, expect a sweet fountain in the middle, surrounded by the enduring smell of urine and homeless guys handing out free chicken samples on toothpicks.

In securing the top ranking, Ratner bested a Cardinal accused of protecting pedophile priests, disgraced author James Frey, and two funeral-home directors who sold body parts like stereos at a swap meet. Go Cleveland!

Profiles of justice
Cab driver William Anderson had been stiffed on fares before. One bitter night in March, it came time to fight back.

When New Yorker Jason Graves skipped out on his $25 fare from the Greyhound station to the airport, Anderson called the cops. Graves was arrested.

"People think that we're cabbies -- we're the lowest people on earth," says Anderson, a driver for Americab. "But we deal with this every day, and enough is enough."

After serving four days in jail, Graves was handed a 30-day sentence and a $100 fine, both of which were suspended. Anderson was awarded his 25 bucks, though he's yet to see it.

"Maybe I'm an asshole for fuckin' prosecuting him over 25 dollars," he says. "But guess what: So fuckin' what? I got a family."

Just like Perry Mason used to say.

Tramps like us
Scores of scantily clad suburbanites may be understandably furious about Tramp nightclub's transformation from a risqué frat bar into a sleek, upscale lounge called the Saint Clair. But for lawyers who reside in the offices above Tramp, the change is toastworthy.

"When clients would call our office and ask for directions, we'd have to tell them that we were located above a club called Tramp," moans one receptionist. "Then we'd quickly have to explain that, no, Tramp is not a strip club. It's not like Christie's or some other place like that either."