Cuyahoga corruption probe: Dimora, 7 other defendants plead not guilty

6:46 PM, Sep 15, 2010   |    comments
  • Jerry Skuhrovec
  • Bridget McCafferty
  • Steven Terry
  • Robert Ryback
  • Samir Mohammad
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Today, in addition to Dimora, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Bridget McCafferty, 44, of Westlake, pleaded not guilty to lying to the FBI. She told WKYC she is not worried about the charges.

"I was never concerned because I know of my own integrity," she said, shortly after entering her plea of not guilty. "I never thought the day would come that I would receive a call."

McCafferty must temporarily step down from the bench but says she will continue campainging for reelection and hopes to serve another term. McCafferty says she was surprised she was indicted.

"I was confident this investigation would not include me because I was not involved in any illegal or unethical activity as a judge."

Common Pleas Judge Steven Terry, 58, of Cleveland, pleaded not guilty to a charge of judicial corruption. He could receive a 20 year prison term if convicted. He was led into the federal courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Terry's attorneys say he will either take a leave of absence from the bench or resign, before fighting the charges in federal court.

"This is a bad day for him," said Terry's lawyer Angelo Lonardo, Jr., "but we're confident that when we get into court we'll address these issues and we'll be vindicated."

Union Local 55 Business Manager Robert Rybak, 53, of Independence, pleaded not guilty to bribery related to a county employee, conspiracy to obstruct the county corruption investigation, embezzlement from Plumbers Local 55 and embezzlement from the local's benefit fund, and obstruction.

Auditor's office/sheriff's office employee Jerry Skuhrovec, 63, of Independence, pleaded not guilty to bribery related to the sheriff's office employment and lying to the FBI.

Auditor's office employee Michael Gabor, 51, of Parma, pleaded not guilty to bribery related to Steve Pumper and his business (DAS Construction), conspiracy to obstruct the county corruption investigation, and bribery related to the 2006 auditor's office election

Former President/CEO of Reliance Mechanical William Neiheiser, 62, of Gates Mills, pleaded not guilty to bribery, and fraud and bribery related to county business and City of Lakewood business.

Neiheiser said he is not guilty, and his attorney, Bob Rotatori, said all the charges against his client amount to are "a T-shirt and a toilet."

Federal documents indicated that Neiheiser and Dimora talked about how Neiheiser could secure a county contract. Part of the talk involved a sports memorabilia item which Dimora purchased for $3,600 at a charity auction. Neiheiser later reimbursed Dimora by writing a check for $3,600 to Dimora's wife.

Concerning the charge of providing services at Dimora's house, Rotatori said Neiheiser did nothing illegal.

"What he's really charged with is installing a toilet at Dimora's house. That Dimora bought the toilet, couldn't install it, so he had one of his plumbers install the toilet."

Former County Auditor Frank Russo's former deputy chief auditor Samir Mohammad, 44, of Cleveland, pleaded not guilty to two counts of bribery related to the SBE selection in the $5.26 million GIS project, obstructing the county corruption investigation and lying to the FBI.

Mohammad resigned from his position on Tuesday.

All eight defendants were released on bond.

Frank Russo, charged last week on multiple counts in the corruption probe, is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Russo has not yet entered a plea. 


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