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Courts and Crime


Suarez is convicted of witness tampering, acquitted of the rest
Campaign contributor faces 20 years on lone conviction, sentencing is Oct. 3.
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
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The verdict in federal court in Cleveland was mixed today for Ben Suarez.  The North Canton telemarketer had been charged with 10 felonies related to $200,000 in campaign contributions. But, as WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports, he ended up convicted of just one.

LISTEN: Dettlebach defends the prosecution

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Last week, the federal judge dismissed two of the charges after a nearly month-long trial. And after two days of deliberation, the jury found Suarez not guilty of seven others, but guilty of witness tampering.  Sentencing on the lone conviction is set for October 3rd

Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, talked about the verdict moments after the trial. He had this to say when asked if the acquittals on most of charges suggest that the case wasn’t strong enough to take to trial. “We very firmly believe that evidence supported us bringing the case.  And Mr. Suarez stands guilty as a felon, convicted unanimously today by a federal jury…albeit not of all the charges in the indictment; and I understand that.”

Suarez was accused of telling employees of his North Canton based company to give money to the campaigns of Congressman Jim Renacci and State Treasurer Josh Mandel and of then secretly reimbursing the workers. The funds were sent back by the campaigns after questions arose about how it was donated.  

The jury of six women and six men decided that Suarez was not guilty in the contributions scheme. But he was guilty of tampering with a witness during the investigation of the case; a felony that can carry a sentence of up to 20 years. 

Suarez Corporate Industries, the company Suarez founded and runs, was also charged in the case, but was acquitted on all counts. 

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