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Next wave of County corruption sentencings begins

5:17 PM, May 3, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Friday will see the next wave of Cuyahoga County corruption probe sentencings get underway.

All are from defendants who pleaded guilty almost immediately when charged but their sentencings were held off until after former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora's trial was over.

All of the sentencings will be done by U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi in her Akron courtroom.

At noon Friday, former Cuyahoga County employee Jerry Skuhrovec will be sentenced. He pleaded guilty Feb. 2, 2011 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and lying to the FBI. Skuhrovec, 63, faces a likely sentence of 24-30 months in prison.

However, the testimony he provided, as well as an undisclosed medical condition that has details filed under seal, may reduce that amount.

Skuhrovec was a part-time senior office assistant in Auditor Frank Russo's office but got a second job as an appraiser in the sheriff's office with help from Dimora and Russo.

In return, Skuhrovec admitted providing entertainment and other favors, including fund-raising help for Russo's brother, Cuyahoga County Probate Judge Anthony Russo.

In his plea agreement, Skuhrovec said he told Russo about a house he appraised on Chagrin River Road that might sell for $180,000 to $190,000. He did so thinking the house might be a good fit for Russo's son, Vince, if he planned to move closer to his father.

Skuhrovec also admitted that he lied to investigators when he said he never hosted a fundraiser for Anthony Russo and that he never discussed his real estate appraisals with Dimora, Russo or any other public official.

At 1 p.m Friday, Lioi will sentence John Valentin, 64, for whom Dimora tried to help get a visa for Valentin's friend.

Valentin is the owner of Salva Stone Design and was charged Nov. 20, 2009, pleaded guilty Dec. 16, 2009 and testified agianst Dimora.

Valentin admitted providing $3,250 in home improvements, includign granite countertops, to Dimora in exchange for Dimora helping Valentin's friend obtain a visa.

Dimora did not pay for the granite Valentin provided and only after Dimora learned he was under investigation did his wife Lori call Valentin, seeking his mailing address, according to Valentin's plea.

Dimora then wrote Valentin a check for $250. Federal prosecutors also say that a friend and a relative of Valentin were hired in the Auditor's office by Russo in exchange for favors.

Valentin faces four to 10 months in prison or house arrest.

Charles Randazzo is scheduled to be sentenced at noon May 16. Randazzo, money manager at Financial Network of America, was accused of bribing Dimora and Russo. He pleaded guilty April 20, 2011, and testified at Dimora's trial.

He admitted giving the gifts in exchange for their help getting county business for his company. He faces a possible prison sentence of 8-14 months. The federal sentencing guidelines that apply to his conspiracy charge could allow him to serve his time under house arrest.

He gave Russo and Dimora each $1,000 in 2004. Russo used his to buy a fake palm tree and Dimora used his to buy a RTiki bar for his backyoard.

Damir Blecic is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. May 24. He worked from 2004 until 2010 as a senior office assistant in Russo's office.

He was involved with a printing company registered in the name of his former wife. Federal prosecutors said Blecic received $448,000 in county business in exchange for an unspecified amount of campaign contributions he made to Russo.

Blecic made nearly $44,000 per year in 2009. Russo admitted hiring relatives of Blecic and made personnel decisions that benefited them.

Blecic was charged with one count of lying to the FBI. On July 30, 2009, the FBI questioned him and he lied, denying that he had any knowledge of anyone giving Russo money for a county job.


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