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Courts and Crime

The key witness who brought down Russo and Dimora is sentenced Friday
Pre-sentencing memo: "Mr. Kelley will not ... attempt to shift blame;" details his health, isolation and  and financial problems

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Right after the FBI searched his home, Kelley began cooperating with in the Cuyahoga County corruption investigation. He'll be sentenced in Akron by U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi.
Courtesy of FILE PHOTO
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The five-year prosecution of massive corruption in Cuyahoga County comes down tomorrow afternoon to a 44-year-old guy with diabetes, cataracts and a heart condition. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze previews the sentencing of a key player in the corruption – who turned out to be a key witness for the prosecution.

LISTEN: Presentencing memo describes Kelley's life since July 2008

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J. Kevin Kelley worked for former county Auditor Frank Russo, then the engineers office and was elected to the Parma school board. 

Even his attorney says he “willingly chose to insert himself into the fast and loose lane of Cuyahoga County politics.” That included taking and directing bribes, cheating on taxes and orchestrating junkets for Russo and former Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. 

FBI agents ran him out of that fast lane in July 2008 when they showed up at his door with search warrants. He started cooperating immediately, and kept his job with the county and schools at the request of the feds. The pre-sentencing memo filed by his attorney says helping to build the case against Russo and Dimora was  “the only way for Kelley to repay his debt to the taxpayers of Cuyahoga County” and the Parma schools. 

The memo says that’s because he has no money, no extended family, no friends in Northeast Ohio. What he does have are big back tax bills, health problems and an alcohol addiction.

Kelley, his wife and two daughters have been living in Florida. He’s facing a likely six-year prison sentence, and is not asking for a reduction. But he is asking that the time be served in Florida.

Other points in the pre-sentencing memo:

  • On media scrutiny: "Even after his relocation to Florida, the electronic media followed him to his mother's house and his sister's wedding. Channel 19 even followed his children while they were out trick-or-treating." 
  • On his finances: "Kelley's financial affairs were a nightmare of overextended obligations prior to July 28, 2008. His financial affairs became a complete disaster thereafter."
  • On the lack of letters of support: "Many of the co-defendants in this case have produced as mitigation, supportive letters from family, friends and business associates. Kelley has no such letters. Such letters are superfluous. The court will pass judgment on his actions."
  • On other support: "He is now considered a leper with hhis own extended family in the Greater cleveland area."
  • The memo also details extensive health problems including a heart defect, diabetes, high blood pressure, a detached retina and and unsuccessful cataract surgery.


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