County corruption: Next corruption trial starts June 8

3:57 PM, Mar 12, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi has denied a motion to postpone the trial of Cuyahoga County corruption defendants Samir Mohammad and Hamdi "Sam" Qasem.

Qasem had asked for the continuance. Lioi ruled that a final pre-trial conference will be held at noon on May 25, and the trial will begin with jury selection on June 8.

Qasem had asked that the trial be postponed until January 2013. Qasem is represented by attorney Brendan Delay and Mohammad is represented by attorney Joseph Dubyak.

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In her ruling, Lioi wrote that "The court concludes that the time remaining will afford counsel adequate time to prepare for trial, and that counsel's unsubstantiated request for a continuance until January 2013 is excessive."

Qasem, 57, a private businessman who mostly lives in Port Charlotte, Florida, and also has a home in Westlake, Florida, was indicted Sept. 7, 2011.

Mohammad, 45, was the chief deputy auditor in then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo's office and was indicted Sept. 14, 2010.

Qasem pleaded not guilty to conspiring in a racketeering enterprise with Mohammad. Mohammad has also pleaded not guilty.

Records show the two men worked together in the Cleveland American Middle East Organization (CAMEO), an Arab-American political action group. They also owned several gas stations together.

Qasem also owned other food and beverage stores in Cleveland.

Mohammad is accused of paying a bribe in October, 2003 to former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora to get a job as the deputy county administrator.

Federal prosecutors say some of that money was used to entertain Dimora and several others at a casino in Windsor, Canada, in 2003.

Mohammad did not get the job but was then hired by Russo after paying him a bribe.

Mohammad was also charged with bribing Russo to obtain jobs for friends and family members.

Federal prosecutors added Qasem as a co-defendant to Mohammad's case, charging Qasem with racketeering.

In denying the motion to postpone the trial, Lioi said that, on Oct. 7, 2010, the court granted a motion to extend the trial date, first to April 18, 2011, then again to Oct. 17, 2011 and finally to June 8, 2012.

On Sept. 7, 2011, the government  filed the second indictment and added additional counts and a second defendant, Qasem.


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