County Auditor Sentenced in Connection with Cuyahoga County Public Corruption Investigation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 15, 2010|
Former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank P. Russo was sentenced today to nearly 22 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $7 million in restitution, announced Bernard A. Smith, Appellate Chief, Criminal Division in the Northern District of Ohio; Harold V. Bickmore, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.
U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley sentenced Russo to 262 months in prison and ordered restitution in the amount of $6,970,905.
Russo, age 61, of Bratenahl, Ohio, previously pled guilty to a 21-count criminal information in connection with the Cuyahoga County public corruption investigation. Russo admitted to taking part in numbers 14 separate bribery schemes and two obstruction schemes between March 1998 and May 2009, when he was employed as the Cuyahoga County Auditor.
Russo participated in schemes involving more than $1.2 million in bribes in the form of cash, home improvements and travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, in exchange for county contracts, jobs, raises, reductions in tax valuations and other official favors, according to the criminal information. These actions caused an $11 million loss to Cuyahoga County on a scheme involving VAS Enterprises.
Russo took more than $1.2 million in bribes in exchange for giving more than $21.4 million in commercial real estate contracts to VAS Enterprises, according to court documents.
He admitted in court that he also accepted a $6,000 in cash for gambling trip to Las Vegas from a contractor who sought county business.
Russo gave Joseph Gallucci a job and cash in exchange for running a sham campaign against him, according to his plea.
He also filed false tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008 and he obstructed justice, according to his plea.
Russo also admitted meeting with friend Ron Romanini at a religious shrine in suburban Cleveland in 2009. He asked the friend to tell investigators that a $10,000 bribe payment Russo accepted was actually a donation made when Russo's son died in 1995, according to his plea.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann C. Rowland, Antoinette T. Bacon and Nancy L. Kelley following investigation by the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. The investigation is ongoing.