Investigator: Corrupt Russo parties, dines out

7:27 PM, May 29, 2012   |    comments
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C UYAHOGA COUNTY -- Frank Russo pleaded guilty to 21 corruption charges 20 months ago. He hasn't spent a day behind bars.

Some wonder if the former corrupt Cuyahoga County auditor is receiving preferential treatment.

"He's a very smart man and he's going to abuse the system as long as he can," said a near west side shopper, who declined to identify herself.

Channel 3 News undercover cameras spotted Russo partying and having a good time at the Twist, a popular nightclub on Clifton near  W. 117th Street.

Those who are close to Russo say he's a regular.

Russo has also been seen eating out at a number of local restaurants, including one in Tremont where a patron demanded to know why he wasn't in prison while Jimmy Dimora was.

The Investigator Tom Meyer tried to question Russo after he ended his shift at a soup kitchen.

"How do you afford to eat out and go to nightclubs when you owe the government millions?" asked Meyer.

"I'm here to do a job, not to talk to you," Russo said.

"Stop being so mean and stop being cruel to human beings."

Russo owes the government nearly $7 million in restitution. The U.S. Attorney's office says he's paid $70,333 out of his own pocket.

Total restitution paid is $347,395, but most of it has been paid for by others.

Russo has been living in Bratenahl, but Channel 3 News learned his housemate, Michael Calabrese, is listed as the owner of a condominium in a gated community in Mayfield Heights.

It's not clear if Russo has moved there.

When Meyer asked Russo what life was like after admitting he was a crook, Russo said "you don't have to be so harsh," then Russo declared, "the interview is over."

Russo will remain a free man for at least four more months and likely longer.

He's scheduled to testify in two trials in September.

No date has been set  for when Russo is to report to prison.  He's hoping his cooperation will drastically reduce his 22-year prison term.


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