East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner Indicted on Theft Charges, Placed on Administrative Leave

click to enlarge East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner Indicted on Theft Charges, Placed on Administrative Leave
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East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner has been placed on administrative leave after being indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury last week, Mayor Brandon King informed the members of the suburb's city council Monday afternoon. 

The one-sentence email from King said that Gardner was being placed on leave after King had himself reviewed the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas indictment documents.

Those documents are scant on details, but a the court's website shows that a grand jury indicted Gardner on a host of charges related to theft in office, including: aggravated theft; telecommunications fraud; monthly, semiannual and annual return by vendor; tampering with evidence; theft in office; grand theft; and passing bad checks.

In comments to the media, both Gardner and his attorney, Kimberly Kendall Corral, expressed surprise at the indictment. Gardner said he was unsure what he stood accused of stealing. His arraignment has been scheduled for Sep. 12 at 8:30 a.m.

Gardner's indictment comes as East Cleveland faces broader political turmoil. Both Mayor King and a controversial councilman, Ernest Smith, will face recall elections in November.

The 47-year-old Gardner has served on the East Cleveland Police Department since 1999.  And the current indictments are not his first experience on the other side of the criminal justice system. In 2014,  according to the County Court of Common Pleas, he was charged with a series of crimes related to tax prohibitions and tampering with records. He negotiated a plea agreement at the time and was sentenced to five years of probation.

Under Gardner's leadership, the biggest controversies emerging from the East Cleveland Police Department have to do with the prevalence of police chases. Cleveland.com reported on the department's pursuit penchant and found that police cruisers give chase nearly every day. Forty percent of these chases result in crashes.

Additionally, the East Cleveland police have been accused by some local organizers of serving as the private army of Mayor King and of having targeted King's political opponents with arrests and vehicle towing. Local activist and political operative William Fambrough, who was campaigning for King's challenger, Juanita Gowdy, in 2021, had his vehicle towed by police and was cited for a noise violation, actions he and others characterized as retaliation and free speech suppression. 

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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