Three people have been charged with being part of a wide network of alleged corruption centered at the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 12 office in Garfield Heights. They're the first charges to stem from a report by the Ohio inspector general last year outlining nearly $11 million in questionable or improper payments to contractors. Ideastream's Dan Bobkoff reports.
The alleged corruption activity involves bribery and kickbacks in exchange for public contracts. Paul Soucie is the lead prosecutor in the case.
Soucie: "The general summary of the behavior is that falsified bids were submitted, bids were then awarded to select, chosen companies, and the people doing the awarding were treated very well in terms of fishing trips and hunting trips and dancing girls and cash payments - bribes.
ODOT employees Joseph Jedrzejek (JED re ZEK) and William Werman, both of Garfield Heights, were charged with theft and unlawful interest in a public contract, respectively. Vendor Jeffrey Bauer of Willoughby Hills was charged with falsifying bid documents and bribery. All three pleaded not guilty.
Six others are expected to be charged in the next week, and more will follow. In all, thirty one people are targeted.
Soucie: "This is a terribly complex and widespread path of corruption. The number of individuals and the complexity and the steps that they went through is amazing. It is a real tangled mess of money flow, corrupted documents and bribery."
Soucie says defendants, if convicted, could face sentences ranging from six months to three years. The ODOT investigation is unrelated to the FEDERAL probe into alleged corruption of Cuyahoga County officials and employees.