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Courts and Crime

Forlani warns Browns of losing parking spots
Convicted contractor was angered over bid negotiations.

Mark Urycki
Michael Forlani (center) with lawyers outside U.S. District Court in Akron
Courtesy of urycki
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Today’s (Thurs) sentencing hearing for Cleveland contractor Michael Forlani focused on his relationship with former Cuyahoga County Port Authority member Bob Peto. Prosecutors played a wire-tapped phone call of Forlani and Peto conspiring to restrict parking for the Cleveland Browns unless they agreed to a contract with Forlani’s company. WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports. .

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One of Michael Forlani’s companies was hoping to win a bid to install HD TV’s in the Browns executive suites and loges. And Forlani was incensed when one young Browns employee wanted him to cut his profit margin from 8 percent down to 3 percent.

On a phone call to another Browns executive, Joe Ricciuti, he warned: “You see that parking you guys got next door at that -expletive- Port Authority, you wait and see what – expletive — happens…Watch that port land next door, you’ll be crying.”  He was talking about parking spaces the county Port Authority was renting to the Browns.

Later Forlani was heard telling his friend and former Port Authority member Bob Peto, “I want you to stick that parking lot up their – expletive -- “   Peto replied. “I agree. I’m ready to pull the parking.”

The government is arguing that Forlani bribed Peto over the years with a total of $74,000. Later, prosecutors argued that Peto, who has pleaded guilty to bribery, helped Forlani get financing to build the Wade Park Veterans Hospital.

Sabra Pierce Scott
When court ended for the day, they were showing how former Councilwoman Sabra Pierce Scott had helped acquire city land for the V-A project in return for cash and a job for her son. Scott shepherded it through city council and also asked Forlani for cash. He delivered an envelope with $2,000 to her in a parking lot behind a restaurant.  She also has pleaded guilty to bribery.

Phone taps
Prosecutors are playing some wiretapped phone calls that have not been heard publicly before.  One had former Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Forlani reacting to news that MetroHealth Medical Center vice president John Carroll was indicted for accepting bribes.

Dimora was shocked that the bribery was discovered the East West Construction company had declared the bribes they made on their taxes. Carroll had been given free trips, gift cards, and golf clubs.   Forlani, who had also bribed Carroll,  was heard on the call telling Dimora “I was only good for a couple tickets.” Prosecutors estimate Forlani gave Carroll at least $1,000 worth of concert and sports tickets.  

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