LORAIN — A controversial former domestic court judge wants her seat back even while she is being investigated for allegedly misusing county vehicles.
Paulette Lilly, who served for 12 years in the county Probate Court, has taken out petitions and said she plans to file Jan. 4 to run again as a Democrat.
A longtime Republican Party member, Lilly lost her re-election bid to David Berta in 2006 by an 11-point margin.
She said she swapped party affiliations from Democrat to Republican while working for Republican county Prosecutor Greg White — who has since become U.S. attorney for the region — but is ready to switch back to the Democratic side.
“I would like to think people are more interested in how qualified a judge is than what party they belong to,” she said Thursday.
Lilly had been the focus of a probe by the county sheriff’s office starting in January, when Berta’s campaign manager, Jim Maschari, turned over information about Lilly’s use of county vehicles that he’d gathered during the campaign.
The documents called into question whether Lilly was really attending Ohio Supreme Court subcommittee hearings in 2004 when she signed out county-owned cars to drive to Columbus.
Sheriff’s Capt. Richard Resendez later investigated whether Lilly used county-owned laptop computers for personal business.
Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will handed the matter over to Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutors for an unbiased review in July.
Will did not return calls Thursday, but Lilly admitted the investigation was still open.
“It really makes me angry,” she said, calling the allegations a politically motivated attempt to cloud her qualifications.
Lilly said she is confident she will be cleared of the accusations.
Elyria Law Director Terry “Pete” Shilling, a Democrat, has also taken out petitions for the county domestic court judge race. He could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Contact Jason Hawk at 329-7148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.