On March 25, the day Puente asked the sheriff's office about the cash from employees, McFaul resigned from the job he'd had since 1977. State investigators raided his office the next day. The Plain Dealer used to pay scant attention to the sheriff's office. But when Puente got tips that McFaul had laid off 18 deputies while promoting his niece, his son's best friend, and his VFW hall buddy, he wrote about it. Tips flooded in. By talking with workaday sheriff's employees, Puente found questionable practices that had gone unreported and unchallenged for years.
Cleveland Plain Dealer police reporter Mark Puente, a former trucker, is 39 years old and four years out of college. Cleveland Magazine says Puente wrote 18 articles between January and March about Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul, who later resigned: tales of employees handing McFaul cash in envelopes, a 23-year-old tape of the sheriff coaching an ex-girlfriend to avoid a subpoena, campaign contributors making huge salaries as sheriff's-sale appraisers, deputies selling fundraiser tickets on the job, McFaul showing up for work one day a week.