Federal Agents Raid, Close Ohio County's Auditor's
Agents from both the Internal Revenue Service and several offices
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation descended upon the offices of
Cuyahoga County's auditor and one county commissioner today. Although
the F.B.I. will not disclose what it is looking for, the spokesman for
the office, Scott Wilson confirmed that an investigation was
ongoing and that it was focused on a long-term public corruption
"The warrants are sealed and, basically, I cannot comment on
anything that's being searched or seized," Wilson said in a statement
to WOIO-Channel 19. Another agent in his office, Special
Agent in Charge Frank Figliuzzi issued the same statement to a
morning radio news program. He did note that once the investigation
enters the prosecution phase, additional information will be provided
to the media and the public.
In addition to the searches of Jimmy Dimora's office, the
county commissioner, and Frank Russo, the county auditor,
search warrants were also carried out at other locations throughout
the county, including the county engineer's office and both Russo and
Dimora's homes. The Parma home of Kevin Kelly, an employee of
Russo's, was also searched by federal officials. Agents have been seen
by news helicopters removing information in boxes from all of the
According to news reports, county employees working on both the
third and fourth floors of the county administrator's building were
told that they should return to their homes after they provided the
agents with their contact information. The floors were then sealed off
and no one is being admitted access unless they are involved in the
investigation. Checking systems and computer networks were also
allegedly shut down by government agents.
The county recorder's office, which was
vacated by Patrick
O'Malley two months ago, remains open. Thus, liens can
still be placed on properties. Because the auditor's office must first
approve deeds prior to their recordation by the recorder's office,
there is some concern that intervening liens could cause problems if
deeds are not being recorded. As it is not yet known when the county
office will reopen, many in both the title and real estate industries
are concerned that this could spell disaster.
"I have no idea what is going on regarding an investigation, but
this explains a lot of the problems that they are having down there,"
said Wanda Steudel, the president of AccuSearch, a
Cleveland-area title company. "This is going to wreak havoc with an
already crippled industry. This will be a real blow to the people who
rely on the records maintained by those offices in Cuyahoga County."
Peter Lawson Jones, another one of the county's three
commissioners, released a statement to the media regarding the
investigation. Neither his office nor the office of Tim Hagan was
served with search warrants in this investigation.
"Jimmy Dimora is my friend and colleague," Lawson Jones said. "...
I fervently hope and pray that when all is said and done, this is a
mere tempest in a teapot."
In addition to the searches that were executed at the officials'
homes and offices, agents also served search warrants at the Cuyahoga
County Data Center, a facility where information is entered and stored
into computer databases; DAS Construction, a business in Garfield
Heights; and Blaze Construction, a facility located in Berea.
In other Cleveland area news, a fire broke out at the home of
Joe Cimperman, a city councilman, early this morning. Cimperman,
his wife, young child and downstairs tenants were able to escape the
fire without any injuries. According to several news reports, the
police and fire investigators believe that the cause of the fire may
have been arson. Cimperman was named as one of the likely successors
to O'Malley after he resigned from his role as recorder. Yet,
Cimperman did not receive the nomination from the Cuyahoga County
Democratic Party and Lillian Greene was named O'Malley's
For many years, allegations of nepotism and corruption have run
rampant in the county offices, according to one source who wished to
remain anonymous. Following O'Malley's resignation, local news media
began investigating just how legitimate many of the county's offices
To learn more, please read "County
Recorder Resigns, Takes Federal Pornography Plea",
County Recorder Resigns After Admitting to Transporting Child
Judge Expected to Assume Role as Ohio County's Recorder" and "Audit
Launched to Examine County's Internal Policies, Procedures."