Dimora trial: Witness says Russo paid him to get out of race

8:07 PM, Jan 26, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Joseph Gallucci testified Thursday morning that he was paid $20,000 -- $2,000 in cash, $2,000 by check per month for five months -- by then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo to run in the Republican primary then drop out of the auditor's race.

Gallucci said Russo promised him a job at the county.

In late 2005, Gallucci, 44, of Independence, said he wanted a job in Cuyahoga County government for the health benefits it could provide.

Gallucci said he first had lunch with with his friend J. Kevin Kelley, and was asking about a county job.

Kelley said there were no jobs right now so Gallucci said he could raise money for Russo's campaign.

"I said I could raise money for Frank Russo and (Kelley) said 'Now you're talkin''" Gallucci said.

Russo, 62, of Bratenahl, was going to run for re-election in 2006.

Then Gallucci said that, in early 2006, he met at a restaurant with Kelley, Michael Gabor, and others and Kelley said "Why don't you run against (Russo) in November?"

Gallucci filed in February, 2006 to run as a Republican in the May 2006 primary. He was unopposed and won.

Then he waited until the deadline for any other Republican to get into the race passed, then dropped out of the race.

As part of the agreement for a future job in the county, Gallucci was paid $4,000 a month for five months by Russo until Gallucci was hired by the county on Nov. 29, 2006, for an annual salary of "$67,000 and change," Gallucci told the court.

Gallucci was hired in November, 2006 in Russo's office in the hotel and motel department.

Gallucci said Russo gave him the total of $4,000 by two methods.

The first was $2,000 in cash in an envelope that was hand-delivered monthly to Gallucci by Gabor at Gallucci's family car wash.

The other $2,000 was paid by check monthly through Sam Lucarelli at 1-888 OhioComp, although he never worked for 1-888 OhioComp.

Gallucci said he wanted to stay in the race until the end because "I wanted my Mom to vote for me," but Russo told him to drop out at a time when Republicans couldn't get another candidate to replace him in the race.

Russo said he didn't want any opponent in the 2006 general election because that would mean he would have to spend about $50,000 in campaign funds on TV commercials and other campaign expenses, Gallucci said.


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