State and federal law enforcement raided Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish’s office Thursday afternoon, a move that Budish denounced as “without justification.”
About nine agents from the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation arrived before noon and spent several hours in the county headquarters building, leaving just before 4 p.m., county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said.
They left with five boxes, an envelope of equipment and two hard drives, one of which belonged to Budish, Madigan said.
Budish and other county staff were in the office when agents arrived, she said.
“They wanted to speak to the executive, and then they asked the rest of us in there to step out and do our work in another office, which we did,” Madigan said.
She said the agents did not speak with Budish for very long.
In a statement distributed to reporters Thursday afternoon, Budish confirmed that the raid was part of the ongoing investigation into his administration. He said that his administration has been “completely forthcoming” throughout the probe.
“I want to state very clearly that I have done nothing wrong,” Budish said. “This latest development is without justification. I can only say that it is what looks like a political move. We have taken this investigation very seriously. Unfortunately, the actions today have turned it into a political circus.”
The investigation has resulted in the indictments of a current county employee and two former ones, including former jail director Ken Mills. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley handed over the case to Attorney General Dave Yost two weeks ago. O’Malley cited concerns about a possible conflict of interest, given that his office is defending the county in a lawsuit over conditions in the county jail.
A Feb. 7 grand jury subpoena sought Mills’ phone records, along with emails from Budish and other county employees. Those records were due to be delivered to the Justice Center on Thursday morning.