ELYRIA – Elyria businessman Larry Jones pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison in connection with a bribery scheme allegedly involving former Lorain County Commissioner Michael Ross and the construction of the county`s Justice Center.
Earlier this month, Jones was sentenced to a related three-year term in federal court for bank fraud and money laundering. He is scheduled to start serving that sentence Dec. 17.
The three-year sentence he received Wednesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court will run concurrent to the federal sentence. During his court appearance Wednesday, Jones pleaded guilty to 16 counts including bribery, conspiracy, complicity in an unlawful contract and money laundering stemming from his involvement with Ross in the late 1990s.
Prosecutors have accused the pair of working together to enrich themselves using Ross` position, including arranging the sale of the former JCPenney building in downtown Elyria to the county for $400,000, just months after it has been purchased for $250,000.
Jones, the former owner of Erie Shores Computer, Inc., is the second of those charged in connection with the allegations to agree to testify against the former commissioner, who has been disbarred as a lawyer.
Randall Gordon, the former president of the architecture firm that designed the Justice Center, already has cooperated with the investigation and is serving a prison sentence.
Along with Ross, architect Warren Finkel, as well as Vincent Carbone, president of the Cleveland construction company that oversaw the building of the Justice Center, also face charges in connection with the allegations.