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Cuyahoga County Board of Revision member being investigated for improperly lowering home value


CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County Board of Revision memberresigned Wednesday after being accused of surreptitiously trying to shave $31,000 from the value of a Mayfield Heights townhouse.

Keith Headen, who was appointed to the $64,000-a-year post last July by county Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, used correction fluid Monday to blot out the listed value of $221,000 on a board worksheet and then wrote in $190,000, officials said.

After a secretary questioned the change, county Administrator James McCafferty said, Headen tried to re-edit the value to reflect no change.

County officials have asked the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a criminal investigation. County employees also plan to check hundreds of other property cases that came before Headen’s board over the last year.

Headen, 52, referred a call from The Plain Dealer to his attorney, Kevin Spellacy, who acknowledged his client is under investigation, but had no comment on the particulars of the case.

The two-bedroom, 21-year-old townhouse in Mayfield Heights is owned by a trust. Trustee Joseph F. Skoda — who bought the property in 2002 for $230,000 and lives there now — said Wednesday he does not know Headen and was not aware of the allegations made by county officials.

“That’s strange,” Skoda said. “I don’t have any relationship with anybody there.”

headen.jpgKeith Headen

But Skoda said he did seek to reduce his property value to $190,000 because of the sale prices of nearby homes. He presented his case to the board at a hearing Monday, but said he never heard the board’s decision.

County officials said Headen tampered with the board worksheet after he and his two fellow board members had unanimously voted against reducing the value of Skoda’s property.

McCafferty said the secretary noticed the tampering because correction fluid is not allowed on official documents.

“If the board wanted to change its vote, it’s a new document,” he said. “These are like court documents. That’s how she caught it.”

Jones acknowledged he is friends with Headen’s family and has received campaign donations from Headen, who most recently worked for the George S. May International Management Consulting Group in Chicago.

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