Skip to comments.First major Cuyahoga County corruption charges filed (All Cleveland Democrats)
Posted on 06/13/2009 2:59:35 AM PDT by Las Vegas Dave
Your tax dollars paid the salaries of Cuyahoga County officials who prosecutors say swapped government contracts for a free gambling junket to Las Vegas.
Your tax dollars paid for government leaders to lounge at a secret Flats condo and rake in tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from contractors looking to land county business, according to prosecutors.
And that tax levy you passed last year for the poor, elderly and sick? Prosecutors say one of your leaders suggested using some of it to reward a halfway house that flew him first-class to Las Vegas.
The first major charges in a three-year county corruption investigation -- filed in U.S. District Court Friday -- paint a portrait of government leaders who saw the public till as a bankroll for personal fun. The behavior of political leaders laid out in the charges is staggering both in its scope and its audacity.
The charges represent another step in the investigation that went public and grabbed attention last July, when 175 federal agents raided the Cuyahoga County Administration building, the homes of county Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, Auditor Frank Russo and county employee J. Kevin Kelley and several companies that did business with the county. The charges come while some leaders push a plan to overhaul county government, eliminating some of the offices mentioned in the charges.
Frank Russo, Jimmy Dimora unnamed in investigation documents but are clearly identifiable
How people, businesses unnamed in federal charges were identified
Read the court filing (pdf)
Parma school board President J. Kevin Kelley passed along Nature Stone bribes to Kevin Payne, documents say
Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora got trips, services with K&D Group money to keep engineer's office in Flats' Stonebridge, charges say
Biographies of 4 men charged in Cuyahoga County corruption scandal
Parma school board President J. Kevin Kelley passed along Nature Stone bribes to Kevin Payne, documents say
Businessman lands county contract after treating officials to Vegas trip
Trip to Windsor paid for by county worker in bid for promotion, FBI charges
Alternatives Agency had funding restored after paying for Vegas trip for Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo, prosecutors say
J. Kevin Kelley's friends got $41,000 in kickbacks in return for helping Cleveland attorney's law firm get consulting contract, prosecutors say
Broma Information Technology got Cuyahoga County work; others got $175,000 in kickbacks
J. Kevin Kelley arranged Vegas trip with businessman wanting Cuyahoga County work, prosecutors say
Parma Mayor Dean DePiero implicated in corruption probe
Workers took 10 percent cut of contract, prosecutors say
Gov. Ted Strickland holding fire on Cuyahoga corruption probe
J. Kevin Kelley, three others charged with conspiracy
Probe figure long employed by county
J. Kevin Kelley, figure in Cuyahoga corruption probe, quits Parma school board
A political striver lands in unwelcome spotlight Millions of dollars in contracts was awarded based on the ability of contractors to feather nests, not on who would do the best work for the best price, prosecutors say in a 51-page document outlining charges.
The public-corruption charges are against four men who appear to be cooperating with investigators -- Kelley, retired county workers Kevin Payne and Daniel Gallagher and businessman Brian Schuman. Payne's attorney said his client intends to plead guilty and testify in any future proceedings. Kelley's lawyer said Kelley would not comment. Schuman and Gallagher could not be reached.
Even though neither is named or charged, the allegations make it clear that Democrats Dimora and Russo are in the crosshairs of investigators. Russo declined to comment, and Dimora was not available.
For the first time, Parma Mayor Dean DePiero is implicated. The charges do not name DePiero but allege a politician who could only be the Parma mayor gave something of value to Russo in exchange for Russo getting Kelley out of the mayoral race in 2003.
DePiero, who was not charged, denied the allegation and said he could easily have beaten Kelley.
The public-corruption charges against the men also answer one of the long-running questions in the investigation: The FBI and IRS clearly used wiretaps for years to root out the corruption.
Some were sickened by the charges.
"We deserve better," said Catherine Turcer of Ohio Citizen Action, a public watchdog group. "It's not enough to be disgusted. Voters need to ask for better or else they'll continue to be taken advantage of."
Republicans say that while a judge and jury will decide guilt, it is time for some to step aside long before the case reaches that point.
"What we have seen is tremendous bureaucratic waste, abuse of patronage and malfeasance by those in power, all of which erodes public confidence," said Rob Frost, the county GOP chairman.
The charges suggest Kelley was once one of the most influential men in Cuyahoga County government. In simple terms, he was the dot that connected so many different people to so many schemes.
The charges stem from Kelley and his work in Parma city schools, the county engineer's office and Alternatives Agency Inc., a halfway house on East 55th Street that handled low-level criminals.
As the president of the school board, Kelley steered contracts to his friends, including attorney Anthony O. Calabrese, and businessmen who gave him bottles of wine and thousands of dollars in cash and campaign contributions for work.
In county government, he first worked in the county auditor's office for Russo, where prosecutors said he was given raises based not on his skills but on his political ties.
In the county engineer's office, where he went after leaving Russo's office, he guided the county's online mapping system and earned more than $100,000 a year. Even then, he paid off his boss, Kevin Payne, to allow him to take time off without using vacation or personal leave, according to the charges.
In the private sector, Kelley, who resigned from the engineer's office Friday, was a consultant for Alternatives Agency, which paid him about $200,000 in six years while he did little, if any, work, the charges say. Schuman was the agency's executive director.
Kelley used his connections to help the halfway house get $250,000 in taxpayer money in 2008. When the halfway house's county funding was on the chopping block, Kelley approached Dimora for help.
At one point, Dimora told Kelley to have the agency keep billing the county, and then Dimora "would find more money once the health and human services levy passed."
In April 2008, Schuman paid Kelley to fly Russo and Dimora first-class to Las Vegas.
"Hey, we're heading out now," Kelley said in a phone conversation with Schuman. "The guys wanted to call and thank you."
"Oh, I hope everybody has a good time," Schuman said.
The trip, however, wasn't the first time Kelley, Russo and Dimora went gambling on someone else's dime. In November 2003, the charges said, an unidentified county employee paid $5,000 for the three, along with Payne and Gallagher, to take a gambling trip to Windsor, Ontario, in high style.
The charges say a county employee seeking the job of deputy county administrator paid for the limousine ride and stay. The employee also offered $1,000 for "personal services" to Dimora, as well as gambling chips.
Samir Mohammad, a Russo employee, said he assumed that he is the county employee named in the case. He said the charges are in error: Payne and the others told him that if he wanted the job, he would have to give $25,000 to the officials, Mohammad said. He refused to pay, he said.
"It is all B.S.," Mohammad said.
The next step in the corruption investigation should be guilty pleas, lawyers say. Because the four people charged Friday appear to be cooperating, they probably won't face trial. Rather, they would testify in the trials of people yet to be charged.
Based on the large number of unnamed conspirators in the documents, taxpayers can expect dozens more days in which powerful politicians and business owners will be called to account.
FBI agents enter the Cuyahoga County Adminstration Building on July 28, 2008. The first major corruption charges were filed Friday against J. Kevin Kelley, Kevin Payne, Daniel Gallagher and Brian Schuman.
Is this the story that watchdog guy was fired by Obama over? How did Michelle O figure in.
What a great bunch of crooks we have. They need to go and that watchdog guy needs to be put back on the job.
CHicago/NOLA Crimes movin to Ohio....It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere!
Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora got trips, services with K&D Group money to keep engineer’s office in Flats’ Stonebridge, charges say
Posted by Peter Krouse/The Plain Dealer June 12, 2009 23:33PM
The cost of getting and keeping the Cuyahoga County engineer’s office in a Flats development included limo rides, gambling trips, free use of a personal condo and thousands of dollars for unspecified “personal services” for County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, according to criminal charges filed Friday.
Authorities said money for the bribes came from K&D Group, which runs Stonebridge, a residential and commercial building on the West Bank of the Flats. The company paid $143,000 in consulting fees to a Dimora ally that were used to pay for the limo rides, gambling trips and other perks for Dimora, prosecutors said.
Commissioners approved a 10-year, $4 million lease in 2003. The move was orchestrated by Kevin Payne, chief of staff in the county engineer’s office. He lobbied Dimora to approve the move, prosecutors said.
After it was approved, K&D provided Dimora, Payne and others with use of a furnished condo at Stonebridge, even picking up the tab for cleaning services, according to the charges.
Virginia Davidson, K&D’s lawyer, said the company did nothing wrong and is not accused of wrongdoing. She noted that the company was not identified in the criminal charges.
“K&D is not a party to this case,” she said. “It’s not named in this case.”
K&D is not mentioned by name but is the developer of Stonebridge and is the engineer’s landlord.
When K&D grew worried in 2004 that the county might move the engineer’s office as part of a consolidation of county offices, K&D paid retired county consultant Dan Gallagher $143,000 to use his influence to stop the relocation, prosecutors said.
Gallagher gave some of the money to Payne, who spent between $2,000 and $3,000 for unspecified “personal services” for Dimora and $11,525 to have Dimora and his family chauffeured in a limousine on 22 occasions.
The trips included gambling in Detroit and Canada and taking one of Dimora’s children to college, prosecutors said.
Dimora and cross-dresser Russo. Russo's pic in on a little sticker on all the gas pumps in the country. People have been scratching out his face for years. They replace it, it gets 'defaced."
country = COUNTY. I think I need to go back to bed.
Republican Party Of Cuyahoga County
For Immediate Release Contact: Rob Frost
Friday, June 12, 2009 (216) 534-6346
GOP Chairman Calls For Action Regarding County Corruption
We are at a crossroads in the history of Cuyahoga County, and the future of our communities, our jobs and our families depends on how we respond. “When elected or appointed officials steal from the taxpayers, they violate the public trust,” said Rob Frost Chairman of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County.
While all who are accused of a crime in our system of justice deserve a presumption of innocence, there is a distinct difference in evaluating whether a public official is fit to serve. The public need not wait for a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to conclude that an official is incapable of keeping any longer that sacred public trust. What we have seen is tremendous bureaucratic waste, abuse of patronage and malfeasance by those in power, all of which erodes public confidence and the means for essential services to be provided to our citizens.
“These indictments today, I believe, will not be the last; in the meantime, officials who are as yet unnamed, remain in positions of power making decisions that affect the lives, jobs and future of us all. We must remove corrupt elected officials and their appointed cronies regardless of their political affiliation. The Republican Party and I are committed to fighting for a complete county renewal and will call for the resignation, suspension or removal of all corrupt public officials of any political party,” concluded Frost.
This is amazing. Zero and his lieutenants must be asleep at the wheel. They shouldn’t be allowing this to happen to their own.
Everyone in the southeast burbs (particularly the old Bedford township ones) has known Dimora works this way for at least the twenty years since his official pictures were taken.
We’re escaping to Summit County this weekend. :)
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