Grendell: Local, state officials aren't pursuing county corruption probe charges

2:53 PM, Sep 24, 2009   |    comments
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Grendell, a Republican, sent letters Wednesday to Mason and Cordray, asking why the 16 people who have pleaded guilty to federal charges haven't been charged with breaking state criminal laws as well?

Mason and Cordray are both Democrats. Grendell argued that they should be working closely with the federal prosecutors on the probe.

The federal probe became public in July, 2008, when almost 200 FBI and IRS agents raided the homes and offices of Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo and County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, among others.

Federal documents show that Russo and Dimora are primary targets of the investigation. Neither man has been charged and both maintain their innocence.

The probe has also been carried out in the county engineer's office, Common Pleas Court, Cleveland Department of Building and Housing, several local school districts and several private businesses.

Grendell is outraged because J.Kevin Kelley, a former county engineer's employee who has already been charged and pleaded guilty, is drawing a disability pension from the state from stress brought on after his home and office were raided.

Grendell said that, until the state indicts a public employee, they are still eligible to receive state pension benefits. A notice of indictment from a state prosecutor is the trigger that freezes the benefits, he said.

Grendell said that, should Mason feel a potential conflict, he should appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a grand jury investigation.

Mason responded: "I, as well as representatives of my office, have been in direct contact with the U.S. Attorney's office about this matter."

"We are determined not to interrupt the ongoing federal investigations. As individuals enter admissions of guilt and are convicted of these federal charges, their culpability under Ohio law will become clear," Mason continued.

"In consultations with federal authorities, decisions will be made regarding state indictments of individuals involved in these activities," Mason added.

Grendell, who is based in Geauga County but represents for municipalities in Cuyahoga County, says "...it is  simply incomprehensible that Cuyahoga County employees, who have admitted to bribes, public contract improprieties, and other criminal acts under state law as part of the ongoing federal investigation, have not been indicted and prosecuted by Cuyahoga County under state law."

To Cordray, Grendell asked, "In fact, why have there been no state indictments of the individuals employed by or involved with Cuyahoga County government, who have been indicted and/or convicted by federal prosecutors?"

"At election time, attorney general candidates like to tout how the position is Ohio's top law enforcement position," Grendell said. "In past state government related situations, the Attorney General participated with local and federal prosecutors in the investigation. Those investigations resulted in state and federal prosecutions."

"If a county prosecutor fails to prosecute county employees who have admitted their guilt, I believe that you, as our state Attorney General, have a duty to assure that these individuals are held accountable by the state for their violations of state criminal statutes."

WKYC-TV

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