Cleveland Metropolitan School District Employee Charged with Extortion
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 17, 2009|
Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, today announced that an Information was filed charging Bernard K. Watkins, age 53, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, with one count of extortion under color of official right.
The Information states that Watkins received $7,000 in cash, using his official position of Technical Supervisor for Safety and Security with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (“CMSD”). As an agent of CMSD, Watkins was responsible for supervising contracts for security systems within the district, including closed circuit security cameras and alarms.
The Information states that Watkins received cash payments from a representative of Vision Security Solutions LLC (“Vision”), a security systems contractor in Galveston, Texas, in order to facilitate business and contracts with the CMSD. The Vision representative contacted the FBI and agreed to record and monitor two separate meetings with Watkins at which he/she paid him $7,000 in cash.
Mr. Dettelbach stated, “While not connected to the ongoing probe of corruption in Cuyahoga County, today’s filing demonstrates our commitment to investigating and prosecuting corruption in all aspects of government and throughout the entire district. We would like to thank the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for its assistance during this investigation.”
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Roberts, following investigation by the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An Information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.