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Courts and Crime

Feds indicate they're ready to send former Cuyahoga auditor to prison
Russo's been free for two years since he entered his plea

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:

It looks like former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo will be heading to prison in a matter of weeks. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the slow wind down of the county corruption scandal.

SCHULTZE: Feds say they're wrapping up corruption scandal

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Former Deputy Cuyahoga County Auditor Samir Mohammad and his business partner Hamdi “Sam” Qasem changed their pleas on a single count of racketeering to guilty. They admitted they bribed county officials in exchange for jobs and other favors.

Just a few hours later, the U.S. attorney’s office filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi saying it’s just about done with its star witness: Frank Russo.

Russo himself pleaded guilty two years ago to taking more than a million dollars in bribes and kickbacks. But he stayed free so he could testify against other defendants, including former County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Judge Bridget McCafferty.

In their motion, prosecutors say Russo’s “cooperation is substantially complete.” And they asked for a sentencing hearing before Oct. 25. Whenever that hearing is, the prosecutors say they’ll outline the full extent of Russo’s cooperation and make a specific recommendation a regarding his sentence. Right now, he’s facing more than 20 years in prison.

One big case in the now four-year-old corruption scandal has yet to be resolved. Cleveland lawyer Anthony Calabrese III is facing 20 charges, including  that he paid a consultant and friend, J. Kevin Kelley, to get the  Cuyahoga County commissioners to buy the Ameritrust complex in 2005. The complex is vacant and for sale.

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