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White-Collar Crime

Lawyer Pleads in Appraisal Bribe Scheme; Prosecutors Seek $3.2M Restitution

Posted Oct 2, 2009 3:37 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A lawyer involved in an alleged scheme to obtain $21 million in appraisal contracts by paying Cuyahoga County officials $1.3 million in bribes has accepted a plea bargain.

Attorney Bruce Zaccagnini, 48, pleaded guilty to a public corruption charge yesterday and agreed to cooperate with the feds, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

He is likely to be sentenced to a four- or five-year prison term next year, halving the 10 years he could otherwise have gotten, the newspaper reports. Federal prosecutors are seeking $3.2 million restitution, which they say represents Zaccagnini's profits from the scheme.

Timothy Armstrong, his partner in the former law firm of Armstrong Mitchell Damiani and Zaccagnini, pleaded guilty earlier this week to a public corruption charge.

An earlier ABAJournal.com post provides additional details about the the operation, in which some members of the law firm are accused of representing clients in challenges of their property assessments at the same time that a now-deceased law firm partner, Louis Damiani, substantially controlled the county appraisals that determined the assessments, according to the feds.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Vorys Sater Documents Subpoenaed in Expanding Ohio Probe"

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