Russo testifies in McCafferty federal court hearing

2:59 PM, Jul 11, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo walked by Channel 3 cameras on his way into federal court Monday.

Russo was entering the federal court building just before 10 a.m. Monday when he was asked for a comment.

He responded with a slight hand gesture, then smiled, and walked up the main steps into the building without comment.

Russo had been subpoenaed to appear in the Cleveland federal courthouse to testify in an evidentiary hearing regarding former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Bridget McCafferty. McCafferty is seeking a new trial.

Monday's hearing was before U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi.

Russo was called to testify Monday because McCafferty's attorneys are seeking the new trial after they learned after McCafferty's trial that Russo was seeking psychiatric counseling and prescribed anxiety medication that may have affected his testimony during McCafferty's corruption trial.

Lioi is expected to issue a ruling on the request for a new trial by the end of this week.

McCafferty attorney Michael Murray said reports were filed by a pre-trial services representative assigned to Russo's case last year.

In the reports, it was written that Russo agreed to seek psychiatric counseling on March 14. That was eight days before he testified against McCafferty.

McCafferty was convicted in Akron in March on all five counts of lying to the FBO. She has not yet been sentenced.

Russo, who is usually accompanied by his attorney Roger Synenberg, entered the courthouse alone.

Russo has already been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal. He began cooperating with federal prosecutors late in 2010 and has already testified in McCafferty's trial and the trial of former Cuyahoga County Comoon Pleas Judge Steven Terry.

Terry was found guilty on half of the counts he faced and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

Russo does not have a firm promise or agreement from prosecutors that his testifying will reduce some of his prison time but he hopes that his cooperation will reflect some reduction.

He was originally to report to prison May 26, then it was moved to June 30, but Lioi has now granted prosecutors' motion that allows Russo to remain free until Feb. 29, 2012, after he testifies against former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

Dimora's trial is scheduled to begin in early January. Russo and Dimora were the top two targets of the county corruption probe.

The probe went public July 28, 2008, when 200 FBI and IRS agents conducted surprise raids on the homes and offices of elected county officials and businesses doing work for the county.


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