Casualties in Cleveland

October 12th, 2014

“On 9-25-12 at approx.1504 [hours] Ptl. Kuchler #520, Ptl. Galinas #572, Ptl. Voisine #539 and 1 Ptl. Cathcart #521 responded to 8105 Dresden Ave. for the report of a male deceased in the attached garage.”

It’s a surreal experience, reading a police report of a suicide.  The writing is cold and clinical, strangely detached, no matter how horrific the subject may be.  The risk in the reading is to succumb to that sense of analytical disinterest so central to such forms, yet so unsympathetic to the heartache behind the text.  It’s very human, this detachment, it’s a protection from the pain of too much knowing and too little understanding.

RestoreCSA was given the story of this victim several weeks ago and we have subsequently spoken with those close to the victim, law enforcement and with related persons.  The victim was an engineer at the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

What kind of engineer was he?  The good kind.  “He was honest as the day is long” said one source.  And another; “he was a kind hearted guy with high integrity.”  “He was the type of person you wanted to be around.”  The world needs more people like this, but we have one fewer.

”[His sister] then proceeded to open the main (north) door of the unattached garage, which was unlocked.  Upon opening the door she found [him] hanging by his neck from a ligature.”

How did this man end so horridly?  We’re told that “he was harassed by Moamar Mustafa and David Schaefer so much [that] it mentally disturbed him”.  Why the harassment?  Well, we do know something of what happened.  The victim would pour out his troubles to his friends and family, bitterly frustrated by his CSA experience.  Said one source, “he would complain that ‘they want me to sign stuff, but I’m not signing that, that’s just not right’.”  “He kept saying that they were asking him to do stuff that wasn’t right, to sign things, but he kept refusing and they kept pushing him.”

RestoreCSA readers will recall that CSA prioritizes profits over safety or, in their words, “the bottom line is revenue generation.”  The CSA’s longstanding practice has been to maximize throughput in safety testing.  That is, they try to certify as many products as possible in as short a time as can be arranged.  And if testing takes too long, if testing gets in the way of throughput, well, the bottom line isn’t safety, it’s revenue generation. 

Ever heard of Ethicspoint?  It’s an online portal, a third party facilitator used by a wide range of corporations to enable their employees to communicate “issues and concerns associated with unethical or illegal activities safely and honestly with an organization’s management or the board of directors while maintaining confidentiality.”  The CSA uses Ethicspoint.  So did the victim.

It turns out that CSA doesn’t respect confidentiality as much as their third party facilitator.  According to one insider, the CSA’s Ethicspoint website “is a place that we are supposed to be able to go and report unethical activity anonymously, but this is a total scam.  What they do is track you through your electronic signature and IP address to find out who you are.  They track you so there is absolutely nothing anonymous about it.”  How would that make you feel?

The victim couldn’t keep his promised confidentiality.  So he contacted Human Resources.  And RestoreCSA readers will recall how humane the CSA’s HR group is.

“He approached HR Martine Scheuermann multiple times only to be pushed away.”  Actually, we’ve heard versions of this complaint for months now.  Said another source, “There have been a number of employees who have tried to advise upper management about Moamar Mustafa” but HR’s standard reaction is to “eliminate [them] from the CSA Cleveland office.”  After repeated appeals to CSA for a cleanup, the victim “was advised by Martine Scheuermann and […] management to ‘quit or kill yourself’.”  We’ve heard that line, too.

And it’s not just HR.  RestoreCSA has a copy of a PowerPoint presentation given to CSA executives on the subject of potential fallout from false certification.  Within this document, the CSA is fretting that they had to disclose “test results to confirm compliance.”  Why were they worried?  Because the test results didn’t exist.  The presentation plainly acknowledges that consumer products are being certified despite “a lack of test data to support compliance.”  Separately, we have a CSA executive’s handwritten notes from that meeting, and they’re impressive too.  This executive indicates concern about “failing results” being noticed by government regulators.  And they were under heavy scrutiny.  As though the government was on to them, the notes refer to worries about “the need to report by tomorrow.”  The notes also use the term “Gianluca.”  What do you suppose that means?

In this crooked context, the victim was falling fast.  The CSA kept threatening him with termination unless he started signing documents that he knew he shouldn’t sign.  In one heart-rending discussion, we were told of the pressures he experienced at CSA.  “He kept refusing, he just…  I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m… I just need a moment.”  And after a moment, the core of the problem: “he was raised honest, it’s just how he was.” 

At the end of his days, “he was very worried about not having any money for bills.”  He had no job.  The CSA had “eliminated” him, apparently he wasn’t cooperative enough.  Of CSA’s engineers, one insider confirms, they “run [the new engineers] through in about two-year intervals just to keep enough ‘paper’ on file to maintain the certifications.  Then they get rid of them before they learn too much about how we operate to where they could be a threat.”  The victim, it seems, caught on to CSA’s system too quickly.  And worse, “he was talking about CSA too much afterward to others.” 

Back in the garage, mortuary services “claimed the body and sealed the bag using seal #0619243.  Also, a chain with a Byzantine cross was located around the victim’s neck […].”

Profit is nothing; it’s people that have value.  For a safety organization, the CSA’s priorities are flat wrong.  For a government agency, they’re inexcusable.

One source wrote recently;  “if you want other CSA employees to respond […] you need to let them know there is an open criminal investigation.”  Yes, but the nature of investigations is such that we’re not allowed to talk about them or even to formally acknowledge them.  “Also, that anybody involved in this unethical behaviour, no matter how little or how much involvement, could be at risk of the same punishment.  Which means CSA employees could lose their jobs, benefits, […] or even go to prison.”  Again yes, but it’s likely that CSA employees already know this, management certainly does.  We have sources inside the CSA and we know that they, and their colleagues, are watching all of this unfold. 

Police reports are always impersonal, cold and clinical, and necessarily so.  For your correspondent however, it’s the reference to the Byzantine cross that somehow makes this sad situation so very personal.  It’s who he was, not how they found him.  The cross also means something, it’s a symbol of faith.  While faith can be trampled and tossed, it can also be resilient when it’s rooted in principle.  It can bring defiance in the face of corruption and indifference to the scale of battle.  Together, we need to nurture our faith in the future, in the restoration of respect, of integrity and honesty, and in the renewed delivery of clean, capable service from Canada’s safety regulator.

RestoreCSA has withheld the name of the deceased for reasons of respect for the family.  We also acknowledge the contributions of several sources to this article including the Police Department of the City of Parma, Ohio.