Amish trial impacts next county corruption trial

1:41 PM, Sep 5, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Cuyahoga County corruption defendant Samir Mohammad has been granted a change in his upcoming trial date as his attorney is defending one of the 16 Amish defendants in federal court in Cleveland.

Mohammad's trial is now scheduled to begin Oct. 15. U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi made the ruling following a telephone conference with attorneys from both sides on Friday.

It had been scheduled to start Oct. 1.

Mohammad's attorney Joe Dubyak is in trial in federal court in Cleveland defending defendant Linda Shrock, daughter of alleged Bergholz clan ringleader Samuel Mullet Sr.

Dubyak asked for the continuance Aug. 16, citing the fact that he had planned to spend a good deal of time in September preparing for Mohammad's trial.

The trial of the Amish in Cleveland is still at the stage where federal prosecutors are presenting their witnesses and the trial is now expected to last until mid- to late September.

Mohammad, who has been referred to as former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo's "right-hand man,"  and his co-defendant Hamdi "Sam" Qasem were originally scheduled to go to trial April 18, 2011.

Russo, who has already pleaded guilty to 21 charges and been sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison, is fully expected to testify against Mohammad and Qasem.

Russo has a plea deal with federal prosecutors that requires him to testify against other defendants, in the hope that he gets time taken off his sentence.

The trial has been continued several times, most recently until June 11.

But Qasem, who had fired his first lawyer, said back in May that communications broke down with his second lawyer and that he has since hired a third attorney, Paul Mancino Jr., and was not ready to proceed with the trial at that time and the trial was continued to Oct. 1.

According to the indictment, Mohammad is accused of paying a $20,000 bribe in October 2003 to entertain former County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and a group of his friends at a casino in Windsor, Ontario.

Mohammad and Qasem also are charged with bribing Dimora, Russo and other public officials in exchange for jobs and favorable personnel decisions, according to the indictment.

Qasem and Mohammad are business partners in several local gasoline stations and also worked together in the Cleveland American Middle East Organization, an Arab-American political action group.


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