Court: Klimkowski pleads guilty in county corruption probe

7:27 PM, Oct 2, 2009   |    comments
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Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, a former top aide to Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, pleaded guilty today to six counts, including bribery and conspiracy, in the Cuyahoga County corruption probe.

She pleaded guilty before Judge Kathleen O'Malley in U.S. District Court.

She was represented by attorney Patrick D'Angelo. No sentencing date was set.

Klimkowski, who is also a former Maple Heights school board member, faces between four and five years in prison, according to her plea agreement.

In July 2008,  the FBI raided the offices and homes of Russo and his political ally, county Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. Neither has been charged and both deny wrongdoing.

Klimkowski was charged in an alleged scheme to arrange $1.2 million in kickbacks in return for $22 million in appraisal contracts awarded by Russo's office.

She had been accused of taking part in a 10-year bribery scheme that paid her $154,000 in kickbacks and delivered more $1.2 million in illegal payments to Russo.

Prosecutors said lawyers for a company that matched the description of V.A.S Enterprises paid bribes to Russo that were delivered through Klimkowski.

Earlier this week, attorneys Bruce Zaccagnini and Timothy Armstrong pleaded guilty for their roles in the bribery conspiracy.

V.A.S got more than $21 million worth of contracts over a decade to appraise commercial real estate for Cuyahoga County.

In addition, Klimkowski was alleged to have taken bribes in the form of home improvements for her and a relative, in exchange for steering $458,000 in Maple Heights school construction contracts to DAS Construction.

Former DAS chief executive Steve Pumper has already pleaded guilty to his role in setting up the bribes.


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