Gates Mills man pleads guilty in Cuyahoga County corruption probe

7:03 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- A Gates Mills man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court and could face up to six years in federal prison.

Former  Former Northeast Ohio labor leader Robert Peto, 58, of Gates Mills, pleaded guilty to six counts of soliciting and receiving bribes from developer Michael Forlani and Nicholas DelBrocco, an investment broker.

He must also forfeit his Ohio retirement pension. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, tampering with a witness and using his position as a public official to illegally obtain property in return for an official act.

Peto served eight years on the board of directors of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority before resigning in August. He was also the executive secretary-treasurer of the Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters. He was removed from the position in 2011.

Peto was in court today after a criminal information was filed against him Oct. 22. U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi has set his sentencing for Jan. 10.

Port Authority Board Chairman Bob Smith released a prepared statement after Peto pleaded guilty:

"I am outraged by Mr. Peto's  actions and the damage he has done to the public trust. But I want the public to know that he did not in fact change the outcome of any Port action. And nothing in the  evidence the U.S. Attorney has made public or in our own records indicates otherwise. It is important to also point out that through this whole process the Port has not been accused of any wrongdoing.  What the Port did is issue bonds backed by the Veterans Administration to fund its renovation and consolidation at University Circle. The VA chose the developer and the bonds were purchased by private investors.  At no time has any public money been at risk as a result of the Port's bonds."

Lioi scheduled sentencing for Peto for Jan. 10.

Prosecutors say Peto helped Forlani during contract negotiations with the Cleveland Browns in 2008.

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