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Crime and Courts


Northeast Ohio's Suarez Corp. settles California suit for $1.8 million
This week settled a lawsuit filed nearly three years ago that played at least an indirect role in a criminal investigation of Ohio campaign contributions.
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:

A Northeast Ohio company has agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit linked to federal criminal charges against the company' top executives over campaign contributions.   

WKSU' M.L. Schultze has more on the developments in the cases against Suarez Corporation Industries.

Suarez settles

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A group of county DA’s in California sued in June of 2011, accusing Suarez of using false and misleading advertising to peddle unapproved or misbranded weight loss, pain control and other products. They noted that Suarez has come under fire in other cases nationally and claimed the North Canton company was violating a permanent injunction in California dating back to 2006 over its diet supplement.

Besides the nearly $1.8 million in civil fines and restitution, this week’s settlement prohibits Suarez from marketing nutritional supplements and other devices in violation of California law.

The legal action was still in the threatened stage in May of 2011 when Ohio Treasurer – and then Senatorial candidiate --  Josh Mandel wrote a letter to to his counterpart in California. It asked the  California treasurer to keep the DAs from “prosecutorial abuses” that threatened more than 500 Ohio jobs.

Mandel also wrote to Congressman Jim Renacci on Suarez’s behalf.

And Suarez, its founder Ben Suarez and its CFO Michael Giorgio are now facing criminal charges that they disguised contributions to both Mandel and Renacci by channeling them through Suarez employees and their spouses.

Both Renacci and Mandel returned the money when questions arose about their origin, and neither has accused in the criminal case. Suarez told the Plain Dealer he asked Mandel to write the letter, but that had nothing to do with donations from employees. Both he and Giorgio have pleaded not guilty.

Neither the company attorney nor the California district attorneys returned calls on the civil settlement, and Ben Suarez could not be reached.

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