White-Collar Crime

2nd Judge Gets Time in Cuyahoga, Ohio, Corruption Case; 3 Lawyers Previously Sent to Club Fed

Corrected: A federal judge in Akron was emotional yesterday as she sentenced a former Ohio jurist to the maximum allowed by sentencing guidelines in a political corruption case.

But former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Steven Terry was unrepentant, saying that he disagreed with the jury verdict and intends to appeal, the Plain Dealer reports.

Terry is the second judge sentenced in an ongoing corruption investigation that has implicated over 50 politicians, government workers and private contractors since 2008, the newspaper notes. With former county auditor Frank Russo serving as a star government witness against him, Terry was convicted of fixing a foreclosure case at Russo’s request and using government workers on county time to perform campaign work. He was convicted and resigned from the bench in June.

“Being a judge is such a special privilege that his conduct shakes the core of our system of justice in this country,” U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi said in a trembling voice during a federal court hearing as she explained why she was sentencing Terry to a maximum recommended sentence of five years and three months. “He willingly joined a culture that was corrupt.”

She accused Terry of perjuring himself on the stand during his trial and obstructing justice.

Among those previously sentenced concerning corruption related to Russo were multiple partners of the law firm of Armstrong Mitchell Damiani and Zaccagni.

“You could not stick your head in the sand and reap the benefits,” Lioi told William Mitchell in June as she sentenced him to eight years and one month and ordered him to pay $1.1 million in restitution, an earlier Plain Dealer article reported.

The defense in the case contended that Mitchell, who was a medical malpractice attorney, knew nothing of a an alleged scheme by other partners, using a company controlled by the law firm, to pay Russo some $1.2 million in bribes in exchange for some $12 million worth of no-bid commercial appraisal contracts.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Trial Starts for Law Partner Charged in $1.3M County Auditor Bribe Conspiracy”

ABAJournal.com: “Federal Jury Convicts Ex-Ohio Judge of 10 Counts of Lying to FBI Agents About Case-Related Confabs”

WEWS: “Former Cuyahoga Judge Bridget McCafferty is now serving time in federal prison on corruption charges”

Updated at 1:17 p.m. to correct the spelling of Judge Sara Lioi’s name.

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