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Schuman on Dimora's 'influence' at Alternatives Agency

3:50 PM, Jan 20, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Brian Schuman, one of the first four men charged in the Cuyahoga County corruption probe, testified Friday afternoon against Jimmy Dimora and Dimora's "influence" on behalf of the Alternatives Agency.

At the time, Schuman, 35, of Bedford, was the co-executive director of Alternatives Agency, a halfway house located on East 55th Street in Cleveland. Previously he had been a bailiff in Bedford Municipal Court.

Schuman was charged, along with J. Kevin Kelley, Kevin F. Payne and Daniel Gallagher, and all the charges involve funneling public money, contracts and jobs; spending money on Las Vegas gambling trips; expensive meals; limousine service; and other "personal services."

Kelley is a former Parma school board member, was a paid consultant for Alternatives Agency, and worked in the Cuyahoga County Engineer's office, along with Payne. Payne was Kelley's boss at the engineer's office.

Schuman has already pleaded guilty to bribery and is cooperating with prosecutors.

As a part of the scheme, Kelley was paid about $200,000 as a consultant to use his connections with Russo and Dimora to keep county funding flowing to the agency

Friday's testimony revolved around Kelley using his connections to help the halfway house get $250,000 in taxpayer money in 2008 from Cuyahoga County.

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."

Federal officials have said Alternatives paid Kelley $4,900 a month as a consultant at the time Kelley was lobbying Dimora and Russo to get county funding restored for the work release program that Alternatives received in a county contract to provide services.

Prosecutors said Kelley's monthly consulting fee was increased to $6,900 per month for several months after the lost funding was restored to the county budget "for the extra work Kevin Kelley's doing to get us more money," Schuman testified.

Late Friday afternoon, Schuman testified that "I became nervous that the increase (of $2,000) in Kevin Kelley's monthly fee was to pay for the Las Vegas trip...and when Kevin Kelley called and said 'thanks for the trip,' I got nervous that we paid for these guys to go on the Las Vegas trip."

Kelley, Dimora, former county Auditor Frank Russo and others went to Las Vegas in April, 2008, just after Kelley's monthly fee from Alternatives was increased.

Schuman was asked if he told anyone about his fears and he said he told Alternatives co-executive director Chuck Farone but did not tell anyone else.

The additional monthly payment of $2,000 to Kelley stopped on July 31, 2008, three days after the July 28, 2008 FBI raids on county offices. 

Earlier Friday, FBI special agent Michael Massie testified there had been an overall three percent county budget cut and county staff recommended eliminating the entire work release program.

The prosecutors said Kelley used Dimora and Russo to get the $250,000 reinstated into the county court budget.

WKYC-TV

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