PARMA, Ohio – The manager of a shoe care store inside of Parmatown Mall has been charged with dealing drugs out the shop's back door, and on Monday, Action News' Ed Gallek confronted him in a story that you could have only seen on Action News.
Cuyahoga County Sheriff's deputies said that Thomas Payne (pictured, right) runs Shoe Care, but out the back door, he had been making the kind of sales no one advertises. Deputies said that people would meet Payne at a service door and buy marijuana.
When Action News confronted Payne, he played dumb.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said.
Even when Gallek informed Payne that the Sheriff's Department had charged him with selling drugs out the back door of his store and that they had a mug shot of him on file, Payne continued to play dumb.
"I don't know," he kept saying.
Some Cuyahoga County deputies even did business with Payne until they started the investigation into his illegal activities.
"They take their belts, their straps, their shoes, this is the guy that's waiting on him," Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department Chief Dan Pukach said. "Meanwhile, he's dealing drugs out the back door.
"You think he's a hard worker, then you find out he's been dealing drugs right out of the mall."
Deputies said that they seized a lot of evidence from Payne's supplier. Investigators accused Craig Mistur of growing marijuana and supplying drugs to Payne.
Parents, who expect kids to be safe at the mall, were shocked when they were told of the allegations.
"You mean someone was in the store, working in the store, selling drugs?" parent Victoria Pisano said. "Wow."
Payne was at the mall on Monday because he was free on bond.