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Cuyahoga County probe: Frank Russo charged, resigns; others likely next

5:17 AM, Sep 10, 2010   |    comments
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Channel 3's Tom Beres confirmed that information early Thursday.

Channel 3's Tom Meyer says neither Russo nor Russo's attorney Roger Synenberg will appear in federal court today.

Today is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Commissioner Tim Hagan said Russo submitted his letter of resignation early Thursday.

Read the 58-page indictment (pdf)

Channel 3 has confirmed that a bill of information was filed today in U.S. District Court, naming Russo in the ongoing Cuyahoga County corruption probe.

A bill usually means the defendant is cooperating with authorities.

However, in this particular type of bill of information, Synenberg said Russo is not cooperating but has instead, in exchange for his guilty plea, asked for considerations for his son, Vincent, who was charged July 13 in the probe.

Russo will plead guilty and avoid a lengthy trial, Channel 3 has confirmed. It is expected that Russo will serve time in prison.

Expanded Cuyahoga County corruption probe coverage

Federal officials said officially that they are charging former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank P. Russo, 60, of Bratenahl, in a 21-count Information in connection with the Cuyahoga County public corruption investigation.

The information charges Russo participated in numerous bribery schemes beginning in March 1998 and continuing through May 2009, all while serving as Auditor.

Specifically, it charges that Russo solicited and accepted things of value, such as cash, home improvements and travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, in exchange for county contracts, jobs, raises, reductions in tax valuations and other official favors.

The information also charges that Russo gave Joseph Gallucci a job and cash in exchange for running a sham campaign against him.

In addition, the information charges that Russo filed false tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008 and that he obstructed justice.

His resignation letter reads:

"I humbly submit my letter of resignation as auditor with deep, heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to have served the citizens of Cuyahoga County for the past 26 years."

"I apologize to anyone I have harmed for any decision I made that embarrassed or caused harm to my office."

Russo turned in his county car on Thursday.

"An era of corruption is coming to an end because of the work of incredibly dedicated FBI agents, IRS agents and federal prosecutors who will not rest until their work is done," the FBI's Frank Figliuzzi said.

"Elected public officials hold positions of trust in the eyes of the public," the IRS's Jose Gonzalez said.

"That trust is broken when these officials commit crimes. No public official gets a free pass to ignore tax laws, and the IRS Criminal Investigation unit works to ensure that everyone pays their fair share."

Channel 3 will have more on this story throughout the day.


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