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Courts and Crime


Prosecutors list Michael Forlani's Cuyahoga County corruption "schemes"
Price tag could reach half a billion dollars
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
Forlani (L) with attorney Thomas Kirsch in August
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Federal district judge Sara Lioi is holding a sentencing hearing for Cuyahoga County business owner Michael Forlani to determine how much damage his bribery and corruption cost the community. One big price tag could be half a billion dollars. That’s the potential cost of the new Veterans Administration hospital in Cleveland that Forlani helped create.  WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports.

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In October the U.S. Inspector General released a report calling the V-A projected "flawed" saying it failed a cost-benefit analysis in closing the Brecksville VA hospital and combining it with the Wade Park hospital.  But Michael Forlani used all his connections to make it happen. 

In federal district court in Akron, prosecutors are presenting what they call “schemes” by Michael Forlani.   One they call “the vehicle scheme,” one  “the Philips Medical Scheme,” and one “the Peto Scheme.”

Peto Is Bob Peto, the head of the Cleveland Carpenters union and a former member of the Cuyahoga County Port Authority.   FBI agents testified yesterday that Peto and Forlani were friends and Peto did what he could to help Forlani get contracts and get cooperation from the union on jobs.  They also said Forlani lobbied his friend Jimmy Dimora to appoint Peto to the Port Authority in hopes of getting port financing for his V-A hospital project.   They showed documents purporting to show that Forlani did work on Peto’s Gates Mills home for free.

Home improvements was the payback for executives of Philips Medical,  now Philips Healthcare, in Highland Hts.  Former Philips employee Patrick Boyce testified that he had to oversee free work being done for so many executives at the company that he had no time for anything else.  The government maintains that Forlani and other contractors were padding their invoices on legitimate work for Philips.  The company since did its own investigation.

The vehicle scheme involved Forlani’s company account at Serpentini Chevrolet. The FBI says Bob Peto and Jimmy Dimora were given discount prices but the dealer would charge their losses to Forlani’s company Doan Pyramid Electric. 

A hearing that the parties thought would be over by now is now expected to stretch into Friday.  One witness for the defense will be Bob Peto, but prosecutors say he won’t take long because they expect him to plead the fifth. 

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