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Warrants Reveal New Details in FBI Probe

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Nearly a day and a half after federal agents raided 11 sites in Cuyahoga County-including the county administration building-new details are emerging in what's being called one of the biggest corruption investigations in the region's history. ideastream®'s Dan Bobkoff brings us the latest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Warrants released Tuesday provide new insight into the investigation.

According to the filings, agents are looking at the circumstances surrounding county contracts and for evidence that county commissioner Jimmy Dimora and auditor Frank Russo were doing political work on county time. The warrants indicate that the feds have evidence of the men knowingly violating hiring rules through systematic patronage. There are also questions about Dimora's dealings in high profile transactions in Cleveland, including the sale of the Ameritrust tower and the VA. Investigators also looked for reports that Dimora influenced civil and criminal cases in the county.

Former federal prosecutor Geoff Mearns finds it's interesting that federal agents went in without involving the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason.

MEARNS: it struck me as significant that the federal prosecutors chose to go with search warrants into those offices as opposed to serving grand jury subpoenas on Bill Mason to ask him to produce the official records.

Mearns says this suggests a lack of trust in the county prosecutor, who has deep political ties throughout the county.

A day after Monday's dramatic developments, Cuyahoga County commissioner Peter Lawson Jones addressed a packed room of journalists, but he had another audience in mind.

JONES: This conference is really for the over 1.3 million residents of Cuyahoga County who are sickened and disgusted by what they witnessed occur at the county administration building yesterday.

Even though Jones is not under investigation, his rival in his re-election bid saw Monday's events as an opening. Republican Debbie Sutherland said Jones bears some responsibility here.

SUTHERLAND: He is the president of the board of commissioners, and this has happened on his watch, and I cannot let him off the hook on that and neither should the voters of Cuyahoga County.

But before the election, the big question is whether the county will be able to get anything done. Commissioners still have to finalize a site for the planned Medical Mart and Convention Center. And, there's now more ammunition for the growing movement to radically reform the county's government structure.

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