Mark Puente- What Price Lunch??? Journalistic Integrity ala carte

January 11, 2012 at 12:04 am 14 comments

During the last part of November 2011 I wrote a post on reporter Mark Puente and the ongoing Montelon/City of Lorain Police Department legal issues.

The ex -Plain Dealer reporter, Mark Puente, was accused of being a confidential informant for the Lorain Police Dept.

Confidential Informant
I had an issue with this alleged behaviour of Mark Puente.

The Plain Dealer( and all print media for that matter) is held to a higher standard by the citizens and the courts ( who often use their articles in their cases) than this poor little blog – It is the print media who took this burden upon themselves to be ” fair and unbiased and to report the news not be the news”
In this instance , if the information is correct that a journalist then became a “CONFIDENTAL” police informant, then by association, the Plain Dealer has become the news and the price they have paid his “loss of trust” in the 4th estate

I sent the post to Mark Puente in Florida where he now is employed by the
Tampa Bay Times
I received the following from Mark Puente:

Please attribute the statement to me:” I was NEVER a confidential informant for the Lorain Police Department.”

So round three … From the Plain Dealer


It seems Mark was truthful he wasn’t a ” confidential informant for the Lorain POLICE DEPT” BUT seems to me someone was splitting hairs it was the SHERIFFS DEPT. and then Deputy Sheriff Resendez ( now running for Lorain County Commissioner)
to whom , according to the deposition of Richard Resendez by J. Montelon’s attorney T. Gilbert on December 16th-2011 Mark regurgitated his information over lunch – found here-
Resendez Depo
or you can click on the link “deposition” in the Plain Dealer article.

It makes interesting reading from a couple of standpoints – the legal aspect – seems there are a lot of depositions happening lately in this old city and more to come; this serves as an example to educate we, the great unwashed, how the system works and what happened “under oath” at that restaurant in Westlake

Page 30
Q. So just to recap, you had a running dialog with the chief concerning these letters prior to your meeting with Mark Puente; correct?
A. Yes.

Q. And you had some discussions with Mark Puente
about the letters, in general, prior to the time
that you met with him at the Westlake restaurant
for lunch; correct?
A. Correct.

Q. Had he written about these letters in an article
prior to you meeting with him at the restaurant,
if you recall?
A. I don’t recall.

Q. Tell us what happened at the lunch meeting.
A. We discussed the letters. I provided what I knew about them that was sent to me, to Mr. Puente.Mr. Puente had information. Whether he received
letters or not was unbeknownst to me, he had information. And during the course of lunch I pointed out the fact to him that, again, in some of these letters individuals were being accused of committing a crime or crimes and I felt that that wasn’t right.

Q. Okay, continue on.
A. As I explained in my opinion, the difference to Mr. Puente saying if somebody says something about me personally, that’s one issue. But if somebody says that I committed a crime, that’s another issue, and I explained, again, in my opinion I thought that was a very, very serious matter. And as we discussed this, Mr. Puente began to indicate to me, well, you know the individual.

Q. Okay, continue.
A. And then he would give me clues as to, well, the individual didn’t retire from the police department.

Q. Continue.
A. As I tried to go through the years of the police department to figure out who retired and who didn’t retire, under whatever status that they left the police department, I started throwing out names. Mr. Montelon’s name was not one of the ones I threw out. As we started to continue the discussion, Mr.
Puente indicated, you’re just not getting it. At which point he goes, the individual is, and he referred to him as Joey. And I said, Montelon? He said yes.

Q. Who paid for lunch?
MR. PETTICORD: Objection.
If you remember.
A. I don’t remember.

Q. Was this an off-the-record discussion? He’s a reporter, you’re a non-reporter, you’re talking about matters relating to these letters.
Was there any kind of statement by him that this is off the record?
A. I can’t remember. I don’t know if that was ever said or not.

Q. Did he tell you not to mention my name if anybody
asks you where you got this information?
A. Yes, he did. He did mention that.

Q. What did he say?
A. Exactly what you said, that not to mention his name.

Q. But you did mention his name to the chief; right?
A. Yes.

Q. So why didn’t you respect his request?
MR. PETTICORD: Objection. Argumentative.
A. Again, I don’t — because he requested it when I provided that information to the chief that the name of Joseph Montelon was given to me, I also provided Mr. Puente’s name as the person who gave it to me.

Q. So you did not abide by his wish that you leave
his name out of it; correct?
MR. PETTICORD: Objection. Argumentative.
Yes or no?
A. No.

Q. Okay. Did you consider Mark Puente, you know,someone who you had a pleasant and amiable relationship with prior to that point?
A. Yes.

Q. Had he ever given you information in the past about matters that were part of his journalistic inquiries?
A. No.

Q. So this is the first time he disclosed information to you about something that he had been involved with as a journalist; is that correct?
A. That’s correct.

Q. Did you ask him how he knew that the individual who was the letter writer was Joe Montelon?
A. Yes.

Q. And what was his answer?
A. That Mr. Montelon told him he was.

Q. Any other information that you got from Mr. Puente that you didn’t know before you went into that meeting?
A. Other than Mr. Montelon’s name, no.

Q. Were any other names mentioned as associates of Mr. Montelon or people who might have assisted him in anything?
A. No, not that I recall.

Q. I think you said you didn’t remember if you met in person with the chief or did this by phone, is that correct, when you went to disclose this information?
A. That’s correct.

Q. Did the chief ask you questions about how reliable this information was?
A. I don’t believe so.

Q. And you told the chief — you used the term “mentioned as the letter writer,” but Mr. Puente said he, in fact, was the letter writer. That’s a little different; right?
A. Initially he mentioned Mr. Montelon as the letter writer. When I inquired how he knew, he expounded and said he was told by Mr. Montelon he was the letter writer.

Q. Did you tell the chief exactly what Mr. Puente had told you at the lunch?
A. Yes.

Q. Did the chief ask you to find out any additional information?
A. No.

Q. Did you have any further meetings with Mr. Puente
after that?
MR. PETTICORD: About this topic?
MR. GILBERT: About anything.
A. Oh, about anything? I couldn’t tell you.

So there you have it – I really would suggest reading the whole deposition. Whether or not Mr. Montelon or the LPD are the injured party in all this is not up too me to decide but as for this member of the journalistic jury – I find this lunch conversation very worrying. In my opinion, as stated in previous posts, Mr. Puente has become the story in his efforts to ” investigate the story” he sold his unbiased reporting cheaply even if his bosses don’t agree: (emphasis mine)

Neil Brown, editor of the Tampa Bay Times, issued a statement about the case late Tuesday.

“We have no reason to believe Mark told Mr. Resendez that Mr.Montelon wrote the letters or that Mark said Mr. Montelon told him he did,” the statement reads, in part.”Montelon’s own lawyer has said that his client never told anyone he was the letter writer. We remain confident that Mark acted as a responsible and ethical journalist in all aspects of this matter.

“Finally, in response to your question about why Mark will not provide an affidavit in the case, the Tampa Bay Times is keeping with the standard journalistic practice of preserving the paper’s and its reporter’s independence and freedom from being drawn into other parties’ legal disputes,” Brown wrote.

Sorry Mr. Brown after reading the deposition, unless Mr. Resendez perjured himself, I would say Mr. Puente gave away his independence and the integrity as he sat his bum down and involved a “source (s) “- inserted his bum and the rest of him right smack in the middle of the story.. He also acted as a delivery man and delivered a box of material- he became part of the story once he took an “active role in its direction- he inserted himself right smack in the middle of the story and investigation .He has left a bad taste in the mouths of many who have once again had the “trust factor trampled upon “

Puente acknowledged in November that he had given a box of records dealing with his investigation of police wrongdoing to a Lorain City councilwoman. The box contained rough drafts of two stories Puente was working on, according to court records. The box turned up in the raid at Montelon’s house in Wickliffe- Plain Dealer

No! Mr. Puente is NOW the story and the 4TH estate receives another blow and Mr. Puente receives yet another award – this blog’s


Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, commentary, media, notorious opponents of exactitude, personal opinion. Tags: , .

LCCAA – lots of “action” here- not all HELP ( ful) Eden Valley Enterprises – Emma “Grandma” Gatewood

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grammy  |  January 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Some people just don’t understand credibility at all.

  • 2. Brian  |  January 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Credibility is a two way street. I really do not understand why if the guys house was raided with a search warrant and they found exactly what they were looking for, why wasn’t an arrest made?

    Think about this for a second. All the effort and time spent investigating the guy and going to the efforts to obtain a search warrant, something usually reserved for serious crimes, and no arrest?

    Secondly, there should be an investigative report that would support the request for the search warrant besides he said that he said. Saying that Resendez, who is an officer of the law, told over the telephone the information to another officer of the law is not how a proper investigation is built for prosecution. A chain of evidence, or the means to verify the information should have been established.

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I don’t know apparently no criminal charges were ever filed???

  • 4. aka mozart  |  January 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    What I have been told re: the search warrant. is…that judge “Colletta”(sp) was off and they had to go find him on the golf course to sign the warrant…BIG RED STINKY THING THERE! WHY that particular judge..there are others that could have signed.

    Also, I do not believe that Joe had admitted to anyone that he was the letter writter. He has not even said that to us!

    So there seems now to be a “stand off” with two people that should have integrity..and that should command trust..but all I see are two Liars. SOMEONE IS CLEARLY LYING! and that makes me sick.

    Resendez goes along for the ride…and in uniform…really…and now he trys to convience us that he sould be county commissioner…going along for another ride Ricky? Frankly the rides he goes on, takes the tax payers for a ride too.

    We still have not heard how much those “garbage pulls” have cost this city…,and how much for the “ferenziicis” on the computer…AND ALL FOR WHAT…TO SILENCE A CRITIC?

    HOW IS THAT WORKIN for ya…I suspect the canary will not be singing in the coal mine, but right in a court room..dead front and center.
    Thank you Mark Puente. If he was not the confidential leak, he surly would sign an affidavit stating that…
    but whose gonna tell me that police don’t lie. I trust no one…if they want ya..there gonna find a way to get ya!…i have lost all faith.

  • 5. Brian  |  January 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    While I don’t understand exactly what Mr. Resendezs involvement was in this situation, I don’t know how you can claim one of them is lying. Maybe I am missing something, and the only thing besides it appearing to be a big stretch of the laws raiding the house and why Mr. Resendez was even involved with the case, what was the lie?

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Brian did you read the whole deposition ? 🙂 it will explain totally Mr. Resendez’s involvement – but in a nut shell he was a deputy sheriff- part of whose job was to be a media contact .. that is how he met Puente in that capacity.( according to the deposition) Mr. Resendez was also mentioned in the “letters” that circulated- ( Mr. Resendez makes mention of that in the depo).

    Mr. Puente stated on this blog that he was not a confidential LPD informant leading one to believe he was not the source that led to the search warrant . However the deposition under oath by Mr. Resendez stated he was the informant .

    Now granted the LPD is NOT the Sheriffs Dept so yes Mr. Puente told me and the readers the truth…but it is apparent that he was the source for the other local law enforcement agency the Lorain County Sheriffs Dept. This in turn gave the Chief of the LPD the information directly passed from Mr. Resendez to the Chief of LPD. There is a play on “words ” here . I resent that especially as Puente needed to be reporting the story not inserting himself in it and pushing it into a “direction” it probably wouldn’t have gone.

    Resendez was under oath and Puente is not….. I would like to think Resendez would have more to lose therefore by being misleading under oath than Puente who isn’t……..I never called anyone a liar in the post

    What I said was:
    “It seems Mark was truthful he wasn’t a ” confidential informant for the Lorain POLICE DEPT” BUT seems to me someone was splitting hairs it was the SHERIFFS DEPT. and then Deputy Sheriff Resendez”

    unless Mr. Resendez perjured himself, I would say Mr. Puente gave away his independence and the integrity as he sat his bum down and involved a “source (s)

    And by the way Brian look there is that little word UNLESS rearing its head again 😉

    It is all down to the “English language” 🙂

  • 7. aka mozart  |  January 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Loraine, I think Brian might be talking about my statement that I think someone is lying….i said it because..puente says he was not the leak…and resendez says that he was…so ..someone it not telling the truth…it cant be both ways.

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Oh sorry . if that was the case ….. maybe we had better come up with an “salutation ” 🙂 in the comments

  • 9. Brian  |  January 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    My internet TV doesn’t open up PDF files so I only read what was posted here. This kinda keeps me from wanting to look at agendas and minutes of meetings and thus I have managed to stay away from City Hall for a very very long time.

    I knew the lie before it was told because the misinformation and BLATANT twisting of words has been going on for years here in Lorain. Not to say that it doesn’t happen in other cities, here in LOW-RAIN, the lies have become more common than the truth.

    You talk about having standards, or ethics for reporters, but where are the standards for others that the public is supposed to hold to a higher regard?

    While you mentioned how a reporters stories can become part of a court decision, so can the investigative product of a law enforcement officer which is almost considered 100% true unless proven wrong. It is the exact opposite of one of the cornerstones to Americas Judicial System that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

    An officer or detectives work product is generally consider a “fact” and carries considerably more weight than when a “commoner” would if they were to alledge wrongdoing. Shoddy investigative product, be it purposely or poorly supported “facts” is what can turn peoples lives upside down just trying to defend against what is given to the judicial system leading to such things as search warrants and charges being filed.

  • 10. Brian  |  January 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I am not attacking the police department here, but it goes into many more areas that I will try to explain later, but for now, I have to go to work.

  • 11. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Oh sorry re the PDF file – it is 50 pages so I can’t download it onto the blog ……. and you are correct I am sick too of the
    “wordsmithying” that is going on in all aspects of our society ….

    Print Media has set the ‘ bar standard” for themselves and as seen in the UK they tend to bend it when it suits…… lots of discussion going on over there as to how to enforce their own rules…… we have “omission” in print and you and I both know what it is like to be on the receiving end of “getting up an editors nose” 🙂 they can punish when they want……….

    and you are right what the “cost of “proving innocence” because they can say what they like innocent until “PROVEN” guilty may be the creed but the reality is the opposite YOU HAVE TO PROVE YOUR INNOCENCE …… been there done that and also it happens every day ……….

  • 12. Brian  |  January 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    The expectation that certain individuals be held to a higher standard is somewhat hypocritical. Society says that the police, government officials, city employees, and those that sit at the tables of boards, like the board of education and the Port Authority expose themselves by electing to run for these offices if they get elected by the public or not.

    The problem that appears to occur more here in Lorain than in other communities is that once “sitted at the table of authority”, the word games begin.

    One example is when Bill Sturgil was trying to make it appear that the school board was trying to be more open and transparent and then made the comment that the treasurers’ contract was extended SAVING 17 thousand dollars. To me, that was an outright misrepresentation of material facts because not one cent was saved over what is being paid already.

    Another misrepresentation was claims of savings of two million dollars during the school levy campaign by the teachers union. I can believe that they are possibly paying more for their health insurance, but NOTHING ELSE WAS SAVED.

    Mayor Krasienkos claim that he balanced the city’s budget is a misrepresentation of the material facts. Borrowed money is considered revenue for the city but he nowhere came close to balancing expenditures with budgeted revenue.

    Like police are supposed to have supporting “investigative work product” to “prove their case”, our city government and school system make little to no effort to “build a strong case” for their arguement with any documentation.

    Our cities water and sewer rates went up not because it could be shown were it was going to be spent, it was based on that the manipulation of statistics from other cities pay. If that argument had any merits, the housing in Lorain should be worth maybe twice what it is because someone can manipulate the information to show that residents in other communities are paying twice as much for their homes.

  • 13. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I can’t argue your point Brian- manipulation of statistics and wordsmithying seems to be the order of the day and for the most part of it we the great unwashed sigh shake our heads move on and pay for the process of being manipulated. There just isn’t enough of us that “care” anymore I know I am in that dark place of apathy – The Puente story got me a little more riled than usual as “he used this blog” to wordsmith ” and I personally found that offensive…..and the lawyers win in the end….. 😉

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