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Cuyahoga County corruption: A two-year scorecard

11:31 AM, Jul 15, 2010   |    comments
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That day was July 28, 2008, when more than 200 federal agents simultaneously raided the county offices and homes of Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and other county officials and businesses.

Despite some two dozen people having been charged since then, with most of them pleading guilty and some expected to testify against Russo and Dimora, the two high-ranking county officeholders have not been charged, and maintain their innocence.

"I have done nothing wrong. I have not stolen any money. I have not given people jobs who did not deserve them," Dimora said, in an exclusive interview with WKYC on April 29, 2010.

Because it has been nearly two years since the raids, and over a year since the first charges, a former federal prosecutor says the public should be patient, as the feds know what they are doing.

Geoffrey Mearns told WKYC back in June, 2009, that charges against the first four defendants, and their agreement to cooperate with the authorities, sent "a very significant and powerful message to other individuals involved in the investigation."

In the year since then, 24 people have pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation or its offshoots. One has been convicted, while two others, including Vince Russo, have pleaded not guilty.

Other guilty pleas are expected, but not from Dimora or Frank Russo, whose lawyers have said there will be nothing to plead guilty to, much less be charged with.

Asked why so many people have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him, Dimora told WKYC in the April 29 interview, "They are using me as a bargaining chip for a better deal on their sentences."


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