Council mocks, ridicules corruption expose
and MEGAN GRAY
The Ellis County Press
ITALY – Council members and the mayor mocked and laughed at alleged corruption in their city after Monday’s meeting had adjourned, with residents and city officials alike pelting The Ellis County Press with criticism and jokes over articles within the past two weeks.
The ridicule began after Mayor Frank Jackson’s gavel had dropped and the newspaper’s video cameras had been turned off.
"I didn’t know we had corruption, didn’t you hear, we’re the ‘Italian Mafia,’" said Italy Councilman Mark Souder Sr., whose son worked as the city’s public works director while at one time working part-time as the city administrator.
Councilmen John Droll, Rodney Guthrie, Dennis Perkins Jr. and Greg Richards joined the chorus of taunts at the paper over its coverage of a municipal court clerk under investigation by the Texas Rangers – who had just been reinstated by the mayor – for numerous allegations of financial mismanagement of the Italy Chamber of Commerce.
Susan Delaphimne, the court clerk who is the president and only officer of the chamber of commerce, was accused by city officials and Italy residents of taking antique items out of a deceased woman’s house and then reselling them to local business owners and merchants.
Delaphimne reportedly agreed with the woman’s nephew for a ownership transfer from private hands to the city for use as an eventual park.
However, the nephew, according to a police report filed several months ago, still received notices from the county tax collector for back taxes, and reported that both Delephimne and her husband, Victor, said "it was a private matter" and "it would be taken care of."
The city’s economic development corporation, which collects sales tax dollars to entice businesses and tourism to the city, has to be reinstated with the state because incorporation paperwork cannot be found.
Delaphimne refused to comment on the allegations after multiple attempts during and after the Texas Rangers investigation.
Meanwhile, Conrad Kinze, a former EDC board member, threw his hat into the mayoral election against Jackson next year.