Real estate tax valuation data from the Lorain County Treasurer

Home (Main Menu)

  • 9-24-09: Trust Your Tax Valuation?

    More Government by Favoritism

    Whose valuations were increased in 1998?
    Who had sewers in 1998?
    Comparison with Discount Drug Mart parcel
    Different land uses require different valuations

    Valuation data from the Lorain County Treasurer, submitted To The Board of Revision, 10-6-99

    Land values used are those shown on the tax bills: 35% of market (appraised) value.

    1):: GENERAL RE-EVALUATION OF COMMERCIAL LAND EAST OF SR-83 IN AVON, OHIO

    1-A):: At the Board of Revision hearing on 9-15-99, a representative of the Auditor's office said that Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-002 and other Smith parcels were re-evaluated as part of a general re-evaluation of commercial property in Avon based on sales of commercial property on the west side of SR-83.

    The value established by the County is inappropriate for Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-002 and other Smith parcels because sanitary sewers serve commercial property on Detroit Rd. west of SR-83.

    In 1998 NO sanitary sewers served Smith parcels on the east side of SR-83 in 1998. The Auditor's office was comparing apples with oranges.

    Top -- Home

    1-B):: The value established by the County is discriminatory and premature for Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-002, Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-030, and other Smith parcels.

    Despite the statement on 9-15-99 about the general re-evaluation of commercial property in Avon, in particular on the east side of SR-83, apparently ONLY SMITH AND BENNETT PARCELS, in 1998 the proposed site of the Avon Commons shopping center, HAD THEIR VALUATIONS INCREASED from 1997 to 1998:

    Parcel 0400015102032
    Commercially zoned near NE corner of Detroit & SR83
    Owner BENNETT CONTRACTORS, 26404 CENTER RIDGE, WESTLAKE OH 44145
    Acres 9.510
    1998 Mkt Land Value $317,500 x 0.35 = $111,125 ** ($11,685.07/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $167,000 x 0.35 = $58,450 *** ($ 6,146.16/acre)

    Smith parcel 04-00-015-102-028 6.66 acres
    1998 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $43,510 ***** ($6,533.03/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $5,600 ****** ($ 840.84/acre)

    Smith parcel 04-00-015-102-030 31.54 acres
    1998 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $308,950 ***** ($9,795.81/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $31,960 ****** ($1,013.32/acre)

    Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-001 2.41 acres
    1998 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $15,750 ***** ($6,535.27/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $2,030 ****** ($ 842.32/acre)

    Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-002 43.62 acres
    1998 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $413,110 ***** ($9,470.66/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $28,350 ****** ($ 649.93/acre)

    Smith parcel 04-00-016-104-039 2.71 acres
    1998 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $17,710 ***** ($6,535.06/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value x 0.35 = $2,420 ****** ($ 892.99/acre)

    Parcel 0400027101046
    Commercially zoned at NE corner of Detroit & Nagle
    Reportedly under option in 1998 to a Jacobs Entity for Vista
    Owner DISCOUNT DRUG MART, 211 COMMERCE DR, MEDINA OH 44256
    Acres 36.530

    1998 Mkt Land Value $206,500 x 0.35 = $72,280 ** ($1,978.65/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $206,500 x 0.35 = $72,280 ** ($1,978.65/acre)

    Parcel 0400027101047
    Part commercially zoned on Detroit East of Nagle
    Owner DAVID KIRSCHENBAUM, 614 SUPERIOR AV W, #1425, CLEVELAND OH 44113 Acres 98.330

    1998 Mkt Land Value $235,700 x 0.35 = $82,495 ** ($838.96/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $248,900 x 0.35 = $87,115 ** ($885.95/acre)

    Parcel 0400028101082
    Industrially zoned at NE corner of Chester & Nagle
    Proposed site of Jacobs shopping center
    Owner JS AVON NORTH LLC, 25425 CENTER RIDGE, WESTLAKE OH 44145
    Acres 209.78

    10-2-99 Mkt Land Value $4,530,500 x 0.35 = $1,585,675
    1998 Mkt Land Value $1,235,600 x 0.35 = $432,460 ($2,061.49/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $1,235,600 x 0.35 = $432,460 ($2,061.49/acre)

    Parcel 0400015103037
    Adjacent to Piazza's Floral Greenhouse on Detroit Rd.
    Adjacent to Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-002 with same residential zoning, part under option in 1998 to First Interstate.
    Owner JAMES C PIAZZA, 35676 DETROIT RD, AVON OH 44011
    Acres 6.732

    1998 Mkt Land Value $16,100 x 0.35 = $5635 **** ($837.05/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $16,100 x 0.35 = $5635 **** ($837.05/acre)

    Parcel 0400015110023
    Site of Pickering Hill Farm store on Detroit Rd.
    Across the street from Smith parcel 04-00-015-103-002.
    Owner JOHN L & KAREL S PICKERING, 35735 DETROIT RD, AVON OH 44011
    Acres 11.000

    1998 Mkt Land Value $23,000 x 0.35 = $8,050 **** ($731.82/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $23,000 x 0.35 = $8,050 **** ($731.82/acre)

    Parcel 0400022102051
    Located at the NE corner of Detroit & Jaycox
    Reportedly under option in 1998 to a Jacobs Entity for Vista.
    Owner WASILKO LIVING TRUST, 3682 NAGEL ROAD, AVON OH 44011
    Acres 33.780

    1998 Mkt Land Value $80,700 x 0.35 = $28,245 **** ($836.15/ACRE)
    1997 Mkt Land Value $80,700 x 0.35 = $28,245 **** ($836.15/acre)

    Top -- Home

    2):: COMPARISON OF SMITH PARCELS WITH THE PROPOSED VISTA SHOPPING CENTER SITE, JACOBS/NORFOLK AND SOUTHERN PARCEL 04-00-028-101-082

    2-A):: The value established by the County is inappropriate for Smith parcel -015-103-002, Smith parcel -015-103-030, and other Smith parcels because the Jacobs/Norfolk and Southern parcel 04-00-028-101-082, SERVED BY SANITARY SEWERS, was given the much lower valuation in 1998 of $2061.49/acre, and until March of 1999 when a Jacobs Entity exercised its option.

    Smith parcel -015-103-002, with NO SANITARY SEWERS, was given a valuation of $9470.66/acre in 1998 and 1999; and Smith parcel -015-103-030, with NO SANITARY SEWERS, was given a valuation of $9795.81/acre in 1998 and 1999.

    The Jacobs/Norfolk and Southern parcel, -028-101-082, is the widely-known proposed site of a shopping center of at least 1,000,000 square feet of retail floor space.

    2-B):: The value established by the County is discriminatory and premature for Smith parcel -015-103-002, Smith parcel -015-103-030, and other Smith parcels because the valuation of Jacobs/Norfolk and Southern parcel, -028-101-082, $2061.49/acre, WAS NOT INCREASED from 1997 to 1998.

    Smith parcel -015-103-002 was increased from $649.93/acre in 1997 to $9470.66/acre in 1998, an increase of 1,369%.

    Smith parcel -015-103-030 was increased from $1,013/acre in 1997 to $9795.81/acre in 1998, an increase of 867%.

    Top -- Home

    3):: COMPARISON OF SMITH PARCELS WITH JACOBS PROPOSED VISTA SITE PARCELS 04-00-027-101-046 AND 04-00-022-102-051

    3-A):: The value established by the County is not appropriate for Smith parcel -015-103-002, Smith parcel -015-103-030, and other Smith parcels because Discount Drug Mart parcel 04-00-027-101-046, part of which is commercial property on the east side of SR-83, had a much lower valuation in 1998 than the Smith parcels.

    Discount Drug Mart parcel 04-00-027-101-046, reportedly under option in 1998 by a Jacobs Entity for the Vista project, is given the much lower valuation of $1978.65/acre while Smith parcel -015-103-002 is given a valuation of $9470.66/acre.

    The Discount Drug Mart parcel has an active tavern on it while Smith parcel -015-103-002 was vacant land in 1998.

    The Discount Drug Mart parcel valuation did not increase from 1997 to 1998.

    3-B):: The value established by the County is not appropriate for Smith parcel -015-103-002, Smith parcel -015-103-030, and other Smith parcels because Wasilko Living Trust parcel 04-00-022-102-051 is given the much lower valuation of $836.15/acre while Smith parcel -015-103-002 is given a valuation of $9470.66/acre.

    Wasilko Living Trust parcel 04-00-022-102-051 was also reportedly under option by a Jacobs Entity for the Vista project in 1998.

    The Wasilko parcel valuation did not increase from 1997 to 1998.

    Top -- Home

    4):: DIFFERENT LAND USES AND ZONING ON SMITH PARCELS REQUIRE DIFFERENT VALUATIONS

    4-A):: The value established by the County is not appropriate for Smith parcel -015-103-002, all of Smith parcel -015-103-002 having been given a valuation of $9470.66/acre for 1998 and 1999, when part of Smith parcel -015-103-002 is zoned residential and was never under option to First Interstate.

    4-B):: The value established by the County is not appropriate for Smith parcel -015-103-030, all of Smith parcel -015-103-030 having been given a valuation of $9795.81/acre for 1998 and 1999, when part of Smith parcel -015-103-030 is zoned C2, and was never under option to First Interstate.

    4-C):: The values established by the County are not appropriate for Smith parcel -015-103-002 ($9470.66/acre for 1998 and 1999) and Smith parcel -015-103-030 ($9795.81/acre for 1998 and 1999), because those commercial parts of Smith parcel -015-103-002 and Smith parcel -015-103-030, which are deed-restricted greenspace and were never under option to First Interstate, were sold to First Interstate for $500/acre in October, 1999.

    Top -- Home

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/09/lawyers_actions_raise_conflict.html

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-22-09, By John Caniglia, The Plain Dealer

    Cuyahoga County corruption probe creates doubts about property appraisals ...

    For nearly 10 years, a Cleveland law firm profited from both ends of commercial property appraisals in Cuyahoga County -- overseeing the company that set the values and then disputing the values on behalf of school districts and property owners.

    By representing the opposing sides, the now defunct firm of Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini acted inappropriately and its conduct should raise questions for school districts across the region, critics said Monday [9-21-09].

    "It's a blatant conflict of interest," said former county Auditor Tim McCormack. "The interests of one of the two parties could not have been served." ...

    Two members of the firm, Timothy Armstrong and Bruce Zaccagnini were charged by federal prosecutors Friday [9-18-09] with participating in a kickback scheme in which $1.3 million in bribes were [allegedly] funneled to Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo and a top aide in exchange for an appraisal company getting county contracts ...

    Prosecutors said the appraisal company, V.A.S. Enterprises, received $21.4 million in contracts from 1998 to 2008 to set and review values of office buildings, shopping centers and factories.

    They said that during the course of the conspiracy the law firm's revenue from V.A.S. was about $8.9 million ...

    The values are important because they determine what businesses pay in property taxes and how much schools take in each year. In Ohio, nearly two-thirds of every dollar in property taxes goes to schools.

    Robert Chambers, the administrator for the Board of Revision, said the firm's attorneys have, at times, represented schools in Cleveland, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Rocky River and Warrensville Heights ...

    Armstrong, handled the work in Rocky River. He also represented major commercial businesses, such as the Richmond Mall, which sought to have its value dropped in 2000 ...

    The firm's reputation stretched beyond Cuyahoga County. Armstrong was noted for his work for Elyria schools in Lorain County and for districts in northern Summit County.

    Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini was considered one of the most powerful representatives of Northeast Ohio school districts until about 2006, when the firm disbanded after Damiani's death ...

    The charges Friday said that most of the monthly bribe payments, often [allegedly] delivered in manila envelopes to Russo aide [former Maple Heights school board President Santina 'Sandy'] Klimkowski, went to an unnamed public official whose description matches that of Russo ...

    Klimkowski received $154,000 in bribes, the charges said. Her attorney said she has taken responsibility and will plead guilty to the charges.''

    ----------------

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/09/rokakis_asks_state_officials_t.html

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-22-09, By Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer

    ``Rokakis asks state officials to investigate property appraisals

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis is worried about the integrity of commercial property appraisals in the county and on Monday asked the state auditor and attorney general to investigate.

    Rokakis said he made the request in part because he suspects that Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, a former top aide to Auditor Frank Russo, improperly interfered with appraisals performed by a private contractor, V.A.S. Enterprises.

    "I have reason to believe ... that it was not uncommon for Ms. Klimkowski to contact V.A.S and ask that values be set lower on properties," Rokakis said in a telephone interview ...

    Federal prosecutors on Friday charged Klimkowski with taking part in a bribery scheme in which she funneled more than $1.2 million in cash to a public official whose description matches that of Russo. In return, prosecutors said, the auditor steered $21.4 million in appraisal contracts to V.A.S.

    Charged along with Klimkowski were two lawyers, Bruce Zaccagnini and Timothy Armstrong ... The appraisals performed by V.A.S. since 1998 have determined how much commercial and industrial businesses paid in property taxes ...

    The ongoing federal probe into corruption in Cuyahoga County went public in July 2008 when 175 federal agents conducted raids that included the homes and offices of Russo and County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. Russo and Dimora, leaders of the local Democratic Party, are primary targets of the investigation but neither has been charged and both deny any wrongdoing.

    The probe also has reached into other areas of local government, including the county engineer's office, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and the Cleveland Department of Building and Housing.''

    ---------------

    www.avonhistory.org/janas/sj1102.htm

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 8-28-02, By J.P. SULLIVAN, Morning Journal Writer

    ``Records: Deals cost taxpayers over $500,000

    ELYRIA -- While 90 percent of all commercial and residential real estate transfers result in Lorain County receiving conveyance fees, two large commercial parcels recently changed hands without the fees being paid, costing taxpayers more than $500,000, according to county records.

    The Lorain County Auditor's Office confirmed that the sale of Midway Mall to the Westfield Group in April [2002] and the recent sale of Republic Technologies International to Republic Engineered Products LLC produced no conveyance fees ...

    If paid, the Midway Mall sale would have netted the county an estimated $400,000 ...

    Westfield's purchase of Midway Mall from the Richard E. Jacobs Group, while legal, used a loophole in an exemption to avoid paying its fee.

    Exemption ''M'' of Ohio's real property conveyance fee schedule allows the fee to be waived if a property transfer ''is to or from a person when no money or other valuable and tangible consideration readily convertible into money is paid and that the transaction is not a gift.''

    Instead of cash, Westfield's $756 million purchase of malls in six states including Midway Mall involved the transfer of ''partnership units.''

    Cleveland-based tax attorney Tim Armstrong, who represents Lorain County on tax issues, said yesterday that the $756 million purchase only resulted in the Jacobs Group mall partnership being ''merged and reorganized'' with Westfield's mall partnership ...''

    ------------------

    chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2009/09/23/former-elyria-lawyer-caught-up-in-cuyahoga-county-corruption-probe/

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 9-23-09, by Brad Dicken

    ``Former Elyria lawyer caught up in Cuyahoga County corruption probe

    ELYRIA -- A former Elyria lawyer has been snared in the Cuyahoga County corruption probe that has spilled into Lorain County.

    Timothy Armstrong, who represented several area school districts in their legal fights with property owners over how much land was worth and what property taxes should be paid on the property, was indicted last week on a federal conspiracy charge.

    The indictment accuses Armstrong, who recently closed his Elyria law office and moved to Huron, of funneling bribes to a public official whose description matches that of Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo ...

    Armstrong was indicted along with Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, a Russo lieutenant in the Cuyahoga County Auditor's Office and a former member of the Maple Heights school board, and Bruce Zaccagnini, a former partner with Armstrong in the now-defunct Cleveland law firm Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini ...

    The indictment accuses the firm's partners, including Armstrong, of funneling about $1.3 million in bribes to Russo and Klimkowski between March 1998 and March 2009.

    The law firm represented an unnamed company widely believed to be VAS Enterprises, which performed property tax appraisals for Russo's office, according to the indictment. The law firm had effective control over VAS's books and finances, the indictment said.

    VAS money was given to the law firm, and either Damiani or Zaccagnini would then write checks to the firm's partners. The partners were then told -- often by Post-It notes left on their desks -- how much money they would have to contribute from those checks for kickbacks and when the bribes were due, the indictment said ...

    Armstrong also did work for the Avon, Avon Lake, Amherst, Clearview, Elyria and Lorain school districts, according to Lorain County Board of Revision records ...''

    Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chroniclet.com.

    --------------

    www.morningjournal.com/articles/2009/09/24/news/mj1655026.txt

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 9-24-09, By JORDAN CRAVENS, jcravens@MorningJournal.com

    ``Ex-school attorney indicted: Armstrong allegedly tied to Cuyahoga County corruption probe

    CLEVELAND -- An attorney who once represented Amherst and Lorain city schools has been indicted in federal court on a conspiracy charge ...

    Armstrong is accused of being part of a kickback scheme. About $1.3 million was funneled to Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, an employee of the Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo. Klimkowski was also indicted in federal court on numerous charges and federal authorities said kickbacks were paid to Russo, according to an Associated Press story.

    Armstrong, along with his former law partner, Bruce Zaccagnini, who was indicted on a bribery charge, allegedly funneled money to these county employees in exchange for business contracts from March 1998 to March 2009, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

    Russo and Klimkowski, "abused their official positions in the Auditor's Office," in promising to perform acts that would benefit various businesses whose finances were being overseen by the Armstrong, Zaccagnini, Damiani and Mitchell law firm, which dissolved in 2006, according to federal authorities.

    In March 1998, Louis Damiani and Armstrong were told two businesses, unnamed in the federal information, would be awarded a contract with the auditor's office to perform commercial appraisal services, but Russo would have to be paid for this agreement.

    Between 1998 and Dec. 31, 2006, the joint law firm performed the bookkeeping and banking functions for businesses which were promised the contracts. This included depositing the Cuyahoga County checks into the businesses' bank accounts and, in turn, into the law firm's account. This money was used to draw checks to the law firm's partners, according to the indictment.

    The law firm partners had an understanding a portion of the money they were given had to be given toward these kickbacks.

    During the course of this funneling of money, Klimkowski received $154,000 in kickbacks, and "Person of Interest No. 2," widely believed to be Russo, was given $1.2 million.

    Additionally, as a result of this alleged steering of contracts, the law firm netted nearly $9 million in revenue, according to federal authorities.

    Klimkowski was indicted for conspiracy; bribery; conspiracy to commit mail fraud; making a materially false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the government; destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations; and making and subscribing false tax returns, according to a court docket.

    Armstrong is set to be arraigned by Federal Judge Kathleen O'Malley on Sept. 29 [2009] ...''

    ----------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-28-09, By Patrick O'Donnell

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/09/former_maple_heights_school_bo.html

    ``Former Maple Heights school board President Santina 'Sandy' Klimkowski's longtime critics see vindication in federal charges

    MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio -- ... Klimkowski was charged with awarding contracts to a firm ... in return for having free work done to her home and the homes of relatives. She was also charged with conspiring ... to steal district purchases for personal use.

    Although the charges against Klimkowski describe a variety of misdeeds ... the charges do describe one dollar amount of misspending: $458,600 for 20 contracts between the school district and DAS Construction between 2003 and 2005. DAS installed a bay window, siding and deck at Klimkowski's Turney Road home for free in return for the contracts, prosecutors said ...

    Former Assistant Superintendent Ron Stevens estimated ... that overpayments, bad contracts and illegal activity cost the district about $1 million per year ...

    Commentator 1 wrote:

    We're all kidding ourselves if we think that one lone Board member can orchestrate these crimes without others being involved and others being fully aware of the activities. Administrators and other board members need to be arrested too.

    You don't buy a portable classroom and have it transported to private property to be a hunting cabin without a dozen people or more knowing. Who transported this stolen property? Why aren't they arrested? Klimkowski did not sneak it off in the trunk of her car.

    The smaller items, how did she get access to them? If they were delivered to the district, who signed for them and then gave a Board member physical access to them? That person is part of this corruption too and should be arrested ...''

    --------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 9-30-09, by Brad Dicken

    chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2009/09/30/former-elyria-lawyer-pleads-guilty-is-helping-prosecutors-in-corruption-probe/

    [Lawyer Timothy J. Armstrong pleads guilty to bribery scheme in Cuyahoga County corruption investigation]

    ``A former Elyria attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday [9-29-09] to a federal conspiracy charge that he and his former law partners bribed a public official whose description in court documents matches that of Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo.

    Timothy Armstrong's plea agreement will send him to prison for 37 to 46 months under federal sentencing guidelines, said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards.

    Armstrong, 65, was indicted earlier this month along with Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, a top Russo aide in the auditor's office, and Bruce Zaccagnini, one of his former partners in Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini. Klimkowski and Zaccagnini are expected to plead guilty later this week.

    According to Armstrong's plea agreement, he and his law partners funneled about $1.3 million worth of bribes to the public official matching Russo's description and to Klimkowski, who would collect the bribes for her boss.

    At the time, the law firm was closely tied to a property appraisal company that isn't named in court documents but is widely believed to be VAS Enterprises, which handled property appraisals for Russo's office beginning in 1998.

    The law firm had effective control over VAS's books and finances and made nearly $9 million from its dealings with the company, which had contracts with Russo's office between 1998 and 2008 worth nearly $21.5 million, according to court documents ...

    Armstrong, who has represented numerous school districts in Lorain County and has done work for Lorain County Auditor Mark Stewart, also worked on the appraisals performed by VAS in Cuyahoga County ...

    After Damiani's death, Zaccagnici and an unnamed relative of Damiani's formed a new law firm, Belcuy Partners, and he took over making the bribe payments ... Belcuy Partners allegedly made about $3.7 million off the VAS deal ...''

    Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chroniclet.com.

    -----------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 9-30-09, By JORDAN CRAVENS, jcravens@MorningJournal.com

    www.morningjournal.com/articles/2009/09/30/news/mj1684532.txt

    ``CLEVELAND -- An attorney who once represented Amherst and Lorain city schools has admitted to funneling money to elected officials in Cuyahoga County.

    Timothy Armstrong pleaded guilty yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland to a conspiracy charge. He was accused of being part of a kickback scheme in which more than $1.3 million was funneled to employees in the Cuyahoga County Auditor's Office.

    Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, who worked in the office and was indicted on several charges, received $154,000 while a person whose description matches Auditor Frank Russo was given $1.2 million, according to federal authorities ...

    Zaccagnini, was indicted on a bribery charge, and with Armstrong, allegedly funneled money to the county employees in exchange for business contracts from March 1998 to March 2009, according to court documents ...''

    ---------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-29-09, By Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/09/lawyer_pleads_guilt_in_auditor.html

    ``CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A lawyer [Tim Armstrong] pleaded guilty Tuesday [9-29-09] for his role in [a] bribery conspiracy ...

    Timothy J. Armstrong, 65, will likely face at least three years in prison after admitting he helped distribute $1.3 million in kickbacks ... federal charges state a public official that matches the description of Russo conspired in 1998 ... to award a commercial appraisal contract to a company ...

    That company is not identified by name in the charges but matches the description of V.A.S. Enterprises, which has received more than $21 million in contracts with the auditor's office since 1998.

    In return for the contracts, ... Armstrong ... gave more than $1.2 million in kickbacks ... The lawyers also skimmed about half the money -- $11.5 million -- paid by the county to V.A.S., according to prosecutors. The plea agreement with Armstrong recommends he pay about $1.6 million in restitution ...''

    ------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-1-09, By John Caniglia Plain Dealer Reporter

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/10/lawyer_bruce_zaccagnini_pleads.html

    ``Lawyer Bruce Zaccagnini pleads guilty in corruption case

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A North Royalton attorney must repay Cuyahoga County $3.2 million, money that federal prosecutors say came from his take in a massive bribery scam involving the county's commercial appraisals.

    Bruce Zaccagnini, 48, pleaded to guilty to a public corruption charge Thursday [10-1-09] in U.S. District Court. The scheme funneled $1.3 million in bribes in exchange for $21 million in appraisal contracts, prosecutors said ...

    Federal prosecutors said ... had "substantial control over" V.A.S. Enterprises, the company that handled the appraisals. The law firm did all of V.A.S's bookkeeping, invoicing and banking, prosecutors said in documents. It also was able to transfer large sums of money between the company's bank accounts ...

    V.A.S. Enterprises received $21.4 million in appraisal contracts from 1998 to 2008 to set and review values of office buildings, shopping centers and factories. Prosecutors said V.A.S. gave Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini $8.9 million in payments ...

    Klimkowski is expected to plead guilty before O'Malley Friday [10-2-09].

    Comments

    Posted by Commentator 2

    ... If assets don't provide for complete payback of the money, I suggest researching the Cayman Islands, and any other country for bank accounts ...''

    -------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 9-30-09, by Peter Krouse, Plain Dealer Reporter

    www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/125429964822780.xml&coll=2

    ``Lawyer Timothy J. Armstrong pleads guilty to bribery scheme in Cuyahoga County corruption investigation ...

    Timothy J. Armstrong, 65, is likely to face at least three years in prison after admitting he helped distribute $1.3 million in kickbacks [allegedly] to Russo and a Russo aide in exchange for contracts to perform commercial appraisals for the county.

    Russo has not been charged with a crime or named in plea agreements, but federal charges state a public official that matches the description of Russo conspired in 1998 with Armstrong's law partner Louis Damiani to award a commercial appraisal contract to a company under Damiani's control.

    That company is not identified by name in the charges but matches the description of V.A.S. Enterprises, which has received more than $21 million in contracts with the auditor's office since 1998.

    In return for the contracts, Damiani and others, including Armstrong and Bruce Zaccagnini, [allegedly] gave more than $1.2 million in kickbacks to Russo and $154,000 to Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski, a longtime Russo confidante and employee in the auditor's office, prosecutors said.

    The lawyers also skimmed $11.5 million - about half the money paid to V.A.S. - from county payments, according to prosecutors. The plea agreement with Armstrong recommended he pay about $1.6 million in restitution.

    Armstrong's attorney had no comment after the hearing before U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley. Klimkowski and Zaccagnini are expected to plead guilty to their roles in the scheme later this week ...

    FBI investigation into public corruption in Cuyahoga County. Former employees of the county engineer's office, publicly funded MetroHealth Medical Center and the Cleveland Department of Building and Housing are among those who have already pleaded guilty to crimes. ''

    To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: pkrouse@plaind.com

    -------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 10-3-09, by The Associated Press

    chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2009/10/03/ex-russo-aide-the-latest-to-plead-guilty/

    ``CLEVELAND -- A widening public corruption investigation reached deeper Friday [10-2-09] ... Sandy Klimkowski, a former top aide to Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, a target of the federal investigation, pleaded guilty to all six counts against her. The charges included bribery and conspiracy. She agreed to cooperate in the investigation ...

    Klimkowski 58, of Maple Heights, was the 12th defendant hauled into court since July. The other 11 defendants also pleaded guilty.

    Klimkowski was charged in an alleged scheme to arrange $1.2 million in kickbacks in return for $22 million in appraisal contracts ...''

    ------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-2-09, by Rachel Dissell, Plain Dealer Reporter

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/10/post_44.html

    ``Santina Klimkowski's former staff said they complained years ago ...

    Friday [10-2-09], Santina Klimkowski pleaded guilty to bribery charges.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- For Frank Artino III, seeing former Maple Heights school board member Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski plead guilty to charges in the Cuyahoga County federal corruption investigation is bittersweet.

    Artino, a former school district employee, and others say that more than a decade ago they tried to expose Klimkowski and other district employees who they believed were misusing equipment, personnel and money for personal gain. But they say nobody listened ...

    Former district employees said their bosses often told them that orders had come down from "above," which they believed to mean Klimkowski or another board member at the time.

    But employees said it was not only Klimkowski who benefited. Former district employees regularly did work for other board members and district higher-ups.

    Randy Jarzab, who worked for the schools for 24 years before retiring, said that for years he and other employees were ordered to do things like delivering mulch and appliances to the homes of district employees ...

    Comments

    Posted by Commentator 3

    ... Now they are trying to get $3.5 million in levies from the only homeowners left in a city with the lowest continued occupancy by homeowners -- we are a foreclosed city and many don't realize we that aren't foreclosed have to make up the money for homes that are foreclosed. The school gets $3.5 million even if only one home is still not foreclosed on ...

    Posted by Commentator 4

    ... The organized crime syndicate had all its tracks covered in all government entities, so the good people would end up being kicked in the teeth if they spoke up. The time is now for a thorough federal investigation of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, as this is obviously not the only case of what is clearly a cover-up to squelch an investigation into political insiders who had powerful dons driving the sickening corruption in this region.''

    --------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 10-2-09, By Peter Krouse, The Plain Dealer

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/10/santina_klimkowski_pleads_guil.html

    ``Santina Klimkowski pleads guilty to bribery, using county government for personal gain

    CLEVELAND -- ... Santina "Sandy" Klimkowski stood before a federal judge and admitted to bribery and other crimes Friday [10-2-09] ...

    Klimkowski, a former top aide to Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo and a one-time school board member in Maple Heights, pleaded guilty to using both those jobs to enrich herself by taking bribes in exchange for public contracts ...

    Klimkowski also will have to pay $154,000 in restitution to Cuyahoga County and nearly $33,000 to the Internal Revenue Service ...

    Klimkowski admitted to, among other things, her role in an auditor's office bribery scheme that awarded commercial appraisal contracts to a company in exchange for $1.3 million in kickbacks ...

    Damiani died in 2006, after which Bruce Zaccagnini assumed direction of the kickbacks. Lawyers Zaccagnini and Timothy Armstrong pleaded guilty this week to their roles in the scheme.

    V.A.S. received contracts over 10 years totaling $21.4 million ...

    Klimkowski also admitted taking bribes during her tenure on the board of Maple Heights city schools. She steered $458,000 in school construction contracts to DAS Construction in return for home improvements for herself and two relatives ...

    Klimkowski also conspired with others to use school money to obtain items for their personal use, some of which were used to furnish Florida rental property owned by Damiani, who represented the school district at the time, according to prosecutors.

    In another instance, Klimkowski and Damiani allowed for a mobile classroom to be sent to Belmont County for use as a hunting cabin by one of Damiani's friends ...

    The charges against Klimkowski and revelations about how ... contracts [were awarded] led to concerns about tainted appraisals ...''

    ---------------

    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/02/lawyer_tim_armstong_gets_3_12.html

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 2-3-10, By Michael Sangiacomo

    ``Lawyer Tim Armstong gets 3 1/2 years in prison for bribing county officials

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Timothy Armstong was a ... lawyer in 1997 when his business partner approached him with a plan to get an appraisal contract, Armstong's lawyer said.

    There was just one catch: getting the contract required them to "take care of Frank," according to a sentencing memo attorney John Pyle wrote last week.

    Armstrong agreed to the bribery scheme, and on Wednesday he was sentenced to more than three years in prison for it. The prison term is for Armstrong's role in bribing [public officials] ... to get more than $22 million in inflated appraisal contracts ...

    Armstrong admitted being part of a law firm which paid $1.3 million in bribes. The bribes bought inflated appraisal contracts for V.A.S. Enterprises, a company Armstrong's law partners helped run ...

    Armstrong has paid $1.5 million in restitution and $551,231 in back state and federal income taxes on the illegal income he received from V.A.S.

    Prosecutors said Armstrong cooperated immediately after he was arrested and spent hours assisting them in building a case against law partners Bruce Zaccagnini, who was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday, and the late Louis Damiani -- the lawyer Pyle said approached Armstong about the bribery scheme.

    But Armstrong's crime took millions of dollars out of the pockets of Cuyahoga County residents and eroded the public's trust in elected officials, Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon said ...''

    ----------------

    http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2010/05/25/law-license-suspended-for-elyria-attorney-in-bribery-case/

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 5-25-10, by Brad Dicken

    Law license suspended for Elyria attorney in bribery case

    ``A former Elyria attorney and his former law partner both have had their law licenses suspended indefinitely by the Ohio Supreme Court after they pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to the ongoing corruption investigation in Cuyahoga County.

    Timothy Armstrong, who practiced law in Elyria after the Cleveland law firm of Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini dissolved in 2006, currently is serving a 42-month prison sentence at the Federal Correction Institution in Manchester, Kentucky.

    Bruce Zaccagnini is serving a five-year prison sentence for his role in a scheme to bribe a public official whose description matches that of Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, who has denied any wrongdoing.

    Jonathan Marshall, secretary to the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, said suspending the law licenses of attorneys convicted of felonies is automatic ...

    Court documents filed in the case accused Armstrong, Zaccagnini and others in the firm of funneling about $1.3 million in bribes to Russo through former aide Santina `Sandy' Klimkowski, who also has pleaded guilty in the case.

    The bribes, federal prosecutors contended, were to ensure that appraisal contracts from Russo's office went to a company widely believed to be VAS Enterprises. VAS was effectively controlled by the law firm, according to court documents.

    The contracts, which were first awarded to VAS in 1998, were worth nearly $21.5 million. Armstrong made nearly $1.6 million off the deal ...''

    Contact Brad Dicken at bdicken@chroniclet.com

    See Related Story

    More Government by Favoritism

    More Documents Relating to the June 8, 1998, Decision Against Avon

    Newspaper Record of XXXXX/Jacobs in Avon

    Favoritism -- Top -- Home -- What's New