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Crime and Courts


Suarez acquitted on two charges; closing on the rest is tomorrow
North Canton businessman is accused of steering campaign contributions through straw donors
Story by M.L. SCHULTZE AND KEVIN NIEDERMIER


 
Suarez is accused of steering money to politicians he wanted to help him fight a consumer lawsuit in California.
Courtesy of University of Akron
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Closing arguments are set for tomorrow in the criminal case against North Canton businessman Ben Suarez. That comes less than 24-hours after a federal judge threw out two obstruction of justice charges against Suarez, saying there’s no proof he knew of – or tried to withhold -- a document that prosecutors claim showed he steered political contributions through straw donors.

Cleveland Marshall law professor James Wilson says such mid-trial acquittals are rare.

LISTEN: Wilson on acquittal

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“In criminal law, it always comes down to intent. And intent is always something you have to infer from all of the facts. And I guess she just didn’t’ think there were any facts to support the idea that--  at least in terms of those two charges -- that he was actually deliberately withholding  evidence or covering up in any possible way. It’s a victory for the defendant, but he’s still got a ways to go.” 

The 72-year-old Suarez, and his company, Suarez Corporation Industries, still face other charges in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

They’re accused of steering $200,000 in contributions through employees and their families, then reimbursing them. The money went to the congressional campaign of Jim Renacci and failed Senate campaign of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.

 

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