Cuyahoga County: Russo's son charged, pleads not guilty in county corruption probe

5:10 AM, Jul 15, 2010   |    comments
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Russo, 31, of Willoughby Hills, appeared in U.S. District Court in Cleveland wearing a blue T-shirt, striped shirt and jeans. He had been in FBI custody since his arrest hours before.

He pleaded not guilty to all four charges and he was freed on $50,000 bond. His trial is scheduled for Sept. 21.

He was represented in court by attorney William Beyer.

Vince Russo had no comment after his court appearance.

When asked if there was another explanation for the "gifts" of TVs alleged in the indictment, Beyer said yes, there is, and that will all come out at the trial.

Beyer was also asked if the federal grand jury indictment of Vince Russo was a way to get at his father, Frank Russo, Beyer said "I think so."

Vince Russo told the court that he is being treated for testicular cancer, suffers from panic attacks and chronic fatigue syndrome, and is under the care of a therapist.

Vince Russo's pregnant wife, Shannon, was among those in the courtroom. His father, Frank Russo, was not there.

Channel 3's Tom Beres will have the story starting at 6 tonight.

Russo was indicted on four federal counts, including bribery, conspiracy, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The charges stem from the FBI/IRS investigation into the Maple Heights School District.

The federal indictment says that Russo is accused  of delivering two televisions to the home of former Maple Heights School Board member Santina Klimkowski, and instructing Klimkowski to deliver one of the sets to then-Maple Heights School Treasurer Christopher D. Krause.

The televisions are said to be bribes in exchange for contracts awarded to a company that employed Russo's company, Vincore LLC.

Vincore, a business development and consulting firm with offices at Burke Lakefront Airport, was among those the IRS and FBI raided on July 28, 2008.

That was the day almost two years ago that the secret, three-year-long corruption probe went public, as about 200 FBI and IRS agents simultaneously raided the county offices, homes and businesses of county officehoders and businessmen.

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo are alleged to be "Public Official One" and "Public Official Two" in a series of federal informations that have come down since the initial raids.

Neither Dimora nor Russo has been named in any of the court documents and both maintain their innocence.

It was 9:15 a.m. July 28, 2008, that the IRS showed up at Vincore. Within an hour, five FBI agents also arrived. They removed at least four boxes, a computer hard drive, some papers and at least two pieces of artwork form the Vincore offices that day.

Wednesday's indictment also states that, just days after federal agents searched the offices of Vincore LLC, Russo told Klimkowski to "get rid" of the televisions he had given to the Maple Heights School employees.

Channel 3 and will have more information as the story develops.


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