Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:38 PM
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is launching a special investigation into how Cuyahoga County has been setting property values over the last ten years. The announcement is the latest news in the ongoing federal corruption probe of the county's top democratic leaders. ideastream®'s Mhari Saito reports.
Today's announcement comes nearly a week after federal investigators filed charges that have left political leaders across NE Ohio reeling. A top political aide to Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo was arrested and charged with funneling $1.2 million in kickbacks to someone the feds call "Public Official Number 2." That person's job description matches Frank Russo. Prosecutors say the bribes come from a company that handled commercial appraisals for Cuyahoga County for the past decade.
The county auditor's chief operating officer, Destin Ramsey, says his office is ready to cooperate just as they have with the FBI investigation and an audit by the state auditor. But Ramsey says the Feds have 90 percent of the office's records.
Destin Ramsey: I don't know how beneficial it would be for tax payers to conduct an investigation on top of two already that are essentially looking at the same thing.
Russo and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora are at the center of a federal corruption probe that became public last year when FBI agents raided their homes and offices. Dimora and Russo have not been charged with any crimes and deny wrongdoing. But with 16 indictments so far, including top aides and close associates, the net may be tightening for the county's top powerbrokers.