Posted on October 26, 2004

Mayor, Judge Won’t Talk About Past Sentence

Joseph L. Wagner, Plain Dealer (Cleveland), October 25, 2004

East Cleveland — Mayor Saratha Goggins’ original sentence for killing a boyfriend more than two decades ago was up to 25 years in prison.

But then-Common Pleas Judge Timothy McMonagle gave Goggins a break, allowing her to serve a jail term of 30 days followed by nine months of weekends, a court record shows.

Why McMonagle suspended the prison term is not clear. Now an appellate judge running for a Common Pleas Court seat, McMonagle declined to comment. Goggins also declined through a spokeswoman to be interviewed.

Goggins was indicted on a murder charge and pleaded guilty in May 1983 to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. She stabbed to death O’Neal Price, a divorced father of three, in the kitchen of his Glenmont Road home in 1982.

As part of her sentence, McMonagle ordered Goggins to serve three years of probation and to pay for Price’s funeral. But he excused most of the payments in 1987 and, in 1991, he agreed to expunge Goggins’ name from court records.

The Plain Dealer recently identified one record, a docket sheet that outlines the history of the case. The name on the sheet is blacked out, but not the number assigned to the case for filing purposes.

The newspaper matched that case number with one appearing in the Daily Legal News as part of a June 1983 report on Goggins’ sentencing.

Goggins, who replaced Emmanuel Onunwor as mayor last month after Onunwor’s conviction on corruption charges, had for years evaded questions about her past.

Three weeks ago, after the newspaper obtained a coroner’s report about the slaying, she acknowledged killing Price. Goggins said she had acted in self-defense, but she declined to elaborate and would not say whether she was jailed.

McMonagle said the law prohibits him from discussing cases that are sealed.

Tony Price remains bitter about the way the justice system handled the slaying of his brother. He said his family still wants Goggins to reimburse them for the funeral.

“There is no justice,” Price said. “Anything that happens to the ghetto people, they sweep it under the rug and keep walking. I’m hurt. It’s very unfair.”