Home Cleveland Press Releases 2009 Residential Housing Inspectors Sentenced for Extortion

Residential Housing Inspectors Sentenced for Extortion

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 20, 2009
  • Northern District of Ohio (216) 622-3600

William J. Edwards, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, announced that James S. McCullough, age 57, of Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to 15 months' incarceration and Juan A. Alejandro, age 41, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, was sentenced to 13 months' incarceration following their guilty pleas for extortion under color of official right. These sentencings conclude the Department of Justice investigation and prosecutions involving corruption in the City of Cleveland Building and Housing Department (“CBHD”). These defendants were sentenced by the Honorable Kathleen M. O’Malley.

James S. McCullough

McCullough, who pleaded guilty on June 8, 2009, received over $1,500 in cash using his official position of residential housing inspector with the City of Cleveland Building and Housing Department (“CBHD”). As an agent of CBHD, McCullough was responsible for inspecting residential construction projects within the City of Cleveland to ensure compliance with the City of Cleveland’s building and zoning codes.

McCullough received bribes from a purchaser of houses from New York to reduce the price of a house using CBHD violation notices and removing those violations after receiving cash payments.

Juan A. Alejandro

Alejandro, who pleaded guilty on June 16, 2009, received hundreds of dollars in cash using his official position of residential housing inspector with the City of Cleveland Building and Housing Department (“CBHD”). As an agent of CBHD, Alejandro was responsible for inspecting residential construction projects within the City of Cleveland to ensure compliance with the City of Cleveland’s building and zoning codes.

Alejandro received bribes from a purchaser of houses from New York to reduce the price of a house using CBHD violation notices and removing those violations after receiving cash payments.

These sentencings follow those of four former City of Cleveland Building Inspectors and one Superintendent and Project Manager of a privately owned development firm:

(1) Richard J. Huberty, former CBHD electrical inspector, age 51, of Cleveland, Ohio, pleaded guilty on April 15, 2009 to six counts of extortion under color of official right and four counts of bribery in federally-funded programs and was sentenced on July 9, 2009 to 36 months' incarceration;

(2) Lawrence (“Larry”) P. Skule, former Chief Plumbing Inspector, age 64, of Rocky River, Ohio, pleaded guilty on June 11, 2009 to one count of extortion under color of official right and was sentenced on September 10, 2009 to 12 months' and one day incarceration as well as a $4,000 fine;

(3) Richard M. Kocuba, former CBHD electrical inspector, age 63, of Cleveland, Ohio, pleaded guilty on June 11, 2009 to one count of extortion under color of official right and was sentenced on September 10, 2009 to 12 months' and one day incarceration;

(4) Bobby G. Cuevas, former CBHD electrical inspector, age 48, of Cleveland, Ohio, was charged on May 15, 2009 with one count of extortion under color of official right and is on pretrial diversion;

(5) Henry (“Hank”) J. Picozzi, age 44, of Mentor, Ohio, Superintendent and Project Manager for K& D Group, Inc., a privately-owned development firm, pleaded guilty on March 31, 2009 to five counts of bribery in federally-funded programs and was sentenced on September 1, 2009 to 24 months' incarceration.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Roberts, following investigation by the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The U.S. Attorney acknowledges the cooperation and assistance of all the representatives of the City of Cleveland during the course of the CBHD investigation and prosecution.

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