Jury convicts former judge McCafferty on all counts

11:14 PM, Mar 25, 2011   |    comments
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AKRON -- The jury has reached guilty verdicts on all 10 counts in the case against former Cuyahoga County Judge Bridget McCafferty.  

Sentencing is set for June 2. She faces up to five years in prison on each count. As they left the courthouse, her attorney Michael Murray said they will appeal the verdicts.

The case is part of the ongoing Cuyahoga County corruption investigation.  During testimony, McCafferty was described as a 'roadblock' to investigators in that probe.

The jury reached a verdict in just under four hours after getting the case. Deliberations began just before 1 p.m. on the 10 counts against McCafferty. 

McCafferty, 45, of Westlake, was on trial in federal court here before Lioi for allegedly lying to the FBI in a two-hour conversation that was neither recorded or videotaped on Sept. 23, 2008, about her actions involving two cases in her courtroom.

Prosecutors alleged that she intervened in those two cases after conversations with then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo.

The two cases where McCafferty is alleged to have lied to the FBI involved Dimora's friend, Steve Pumper, the CEO of D-A-S Construction, and Russo's auditor's offfice employee Anthony Debaltzo.

D-A-S was being sued by a sub-contractor.

In non-legal terms, the 10 charges are that she "knowingly and willfully:"

1. denied that Dimora attempted to influence matters in her court;

2. denied that Dimora attempted to intervene in her cases;

3. denied the involvement of Dimora in any cases in her court;

4. denied telling Pumper she tried to settle the D-A-S lawsuit for less money;

5. denied trying to sway the D-A-S settlement in favor of D-A-S;

6. denied trying to settle the D-A-S case so Pumper could pay less;

7. denied Russo ever spoke to her about any cases in her court;

8. said the only conversations with Russo were about attorneys he knew that told him she was doing a good job in court;

9. said that the closest thing about a case Dimora or Russo ever talked to her about was that a particular attorney appeared in her court; and

10. denied giving Russo any special consideration on any cases in her court.

Both Pumper and Russo have pleaded guilty. Pumper testified that, among other charges, he paid bribes and kickbacks to Dimora, school officials, building inspectors and judges.

Russo pleaded guilty, among other charges, to receiving bribes and kickbacks. 

Russo, 61, and Dimora, 56, were the prime targets of FBI and IRS agents in the widespread Cuyahoga County corruption probe that went public July 28, 2008.

FBI Special Agent Gregory Curtis testified that the FBI has 44,000 calls on audio tape from all their wiretaps and 7,500 of those calls are from Dimora's home and cell phones.

McCafferty is heard on the wiretaps of the phones of both Dimora and Russo. The FBI obtained wiretaps for, among others, Dimora's, Russo's and Pumper's phones.

The 12-member jury was charged with finding McCafferty guilty or not guilty on each of the charges separately. In the end, the jurors convicted her on all 10 counts.

During the trial, Lioi  denied defense attorney Michael Murray's motion to dismiss all the charges.

Russo and Pumper both testified in McCafferty's case. Dimora has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges against him, has maintained his innocence, and is scheduled for trial on Sept. 12.

Russo pleaded guilty to 21 counts and was senetenced to 22 years in prison. He testified that he is scheduled to report to prison in Pennsylvania on May 26.

Pumper pleaded guilty to nine counts. Both Russo and Pumper are cooperating with federal authorities.


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