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Feds: Russo helped 'fix' 2006 auditor election

4:36 PM, Sep 9, 2010   |    comments
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Back on Nov. 11, the U.S. Attorney's office charged Joseph Gallucci, 42, with conspiracy to commit bribery. Just before he was charged, he resigned from his job at Russo's office.

Gallucci pleaded guilty Jan. 8 and is awaiting sentencing.

In the 58-page indictment (pdf) against Russo today, it details, among almost two dozen other charges, how Gallucci was a Republican candidate for county auditor in 2006 against Russo and ran a "sham campaign."

Gallucci easily won the Republican primary. Previous documents filed in court show that Gallucci then approached then-county employee J. Kevin Kelley and asked him for help finding a job.

Today's documents show that, at the time, "Russo...solicited and accepts gifts, payments and other things from Gallucci, including cash, Gallucci's sham candidacy for public office, Gallucci's agreement to remain in the election for a certain period, and Gallucci's withdrawal from the election."

"In exchange, Russo provided official action for the benefit of Gallucci as requested and as opportunities arose, including hiring Gallucci in a position that offered OPERS benefits, and Russo provided and arranged to provide Gallucci with financial assistance so Gallucci could maintain his sham candidacy."

OPERS stands for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, a state pension fund that provides retirement, disability and survivor benefit programs for public employees throughout Ohio.

The general election was held in 2006 on Nov. 7 and "on or about Nov. 29, 2006, Russo hired Gallucci in the auditor's office at a salary of approximately $67,849.86 per year, at that time approximately $3,400 more than the salary of Gallucci's supervisor at the auditor's office."

Russo won that election with 328,617 votes, 70.21 percent of the total vote. It is unclear why Russo, who had consistently won re-election with only token opposition over the years, thought he needed to get Gallucci out of the race.

WKYC-TV

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