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Former Strongsville councilman charged in county corruption probe

7:57 AM, Jun 4, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Former Strongsville Councilman Patrick J. Coyne, who also worked for the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office, was charged through a bill of information Friday with bribery, money laundering, and conspiracy.

A bill of information usually means the defendant is cooperating with authorities.

Coyne, 52, abruptly resigned his council seat May 6 without explanation. He sent a one-sentence letter to Council President Michael Daymut, saying he was resigning immediately.

Coyne had turned himself in to federal authorities May 9 and appeared before U.S. District magistrate William H. Baughman Jr. in Cleveland. He was released on $50,000 bond and must wear a GPS locator band on his ankle while on house arrest.

(The traditional ankle monitor could not be used as it requires a landline telephone at the home and Coyne does not have a landline.)

The five-count criminal information filed Friday charges Coyne with one count each of: bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, money laundering, conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, structuring and wire fraud.

Coyne is accused of taking $20,000 in bribes from real estate developer David Terry in 2008 with the intent to be influenced or rewarded for business transactions in connection with City of Strongsville, according to the information.

The money laundering charge is in connection with a payment Coyne made toward the purchase of a condominium in Marblehead, Ohio, using bribe money obtained from Terry.

Coyne is also accused of using his position and influence to affect hiring decisions at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office.

Coyne is also charged with running a fraud from March 2011 through May 3, 2011, in which he invited an investor to invest in a Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise in Brunswick, Ohio.

In April 2011, the investor wrote Coyne two checks for a total of $32,000, but Coyne never disclosed to the investor that he had not discussed the franchise plan with Krispy Kreme, according to the information.

On May 5, the United States Attorney's Office filed a civil complaint in forfeiture against this condominium, which was valued at approximately $222,200.

In the Complaint in Forfeiture, the United States alleges that on or about January 18, 2008, Coyne paid more than $10,000 toward his purchase of the condominium using criminally derived money. Under federal law, property involved in such a transaction is subject to forfeiture to the United States.

Coyne is represented by attorney Craig Weintraub. Weintraub said his client will plead guilty to the five counts in U.S. District Court next week.

Coyne had not been charged yet back in May but was before Baughman because of an affidavit signed by an FBI agent. The complaint alleged that he accepted bribes from Hinckley real estate developer David Terry.

Terry, 70, already pleaded guilty to charges that he bribed Public Official 17 -- someone matching Coyne's description -- in order to "influence and reward" the official for various dealings in 2007. Terry is awaiting sentencing.

Terry said he bribed Coyne in exchange for his past and future political influence and that Coyne had helped Terry's relatives get jobs with the county.

Terry said he wrote Coyne four separate $5,000 checks written on the accounts of four separate companies whose names Coyne gave to him, according to court documents.

Those accounts included the Strongsville Democratic Club, the Citizens for Pat Coyne and the Strongsville Wildcat Baseball, and all listed Coyne's home address on the account.

On Jan. 18, 2008, National City Bank used money from three of the accounts to issue a bank check for $15,000 to Smuggler's Bay Pointe LLC, a real estate development in Marblehead, the affidavit reads.

The FBI agent says he traced the NCB check and it shows that it was used in the purchase of a condominium for Coyne, the affidavit reads.

The FBI agent said he interviewed Terry on July 23, 2010, and Terry said Coyne approached him in January 2008 and "asked for money." Coyne was first elected to City Council as a Councilman-At-Large in 1989.

Coyne was widely referred to as being Public Official 17 in the Cuyahoga County corruption probe that got underway in July, 2008.

Last year, Coyne was first implicated in a bribery scheme involving Hinckley real estate developer David Terry. Coyne was fired from his $120,000 job at the county coroner's office in October after his name was connected to the probe.

WKYC-TV

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