LORAIN — The federal government is considering taking civil action against the city over 11 demolition projects the city undertook between 2005 and 2008 allegedly without going through the competitive bidding process.
Lorain Law Director Pat Riley received a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office informing him that the possible civil action was the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.
Riley said the 11 projects totaled $164,675 that was paid to All-American Demolition, a company owned by contractor Don E. Buchs through the Lorain Community Development Department. Federal investigators have requested numerous files from that department since 2009, including those related to Buchs.
Former Community Development Director Sandy Prudoff pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal charges he was involved in a conspiracy involving a Cleveland halfway house at the center of the ongoing Cuyahoga County corruption investigation. The charges against Prudoff made no mention of Buchs — who has not been charged with a crime — or how contracts were awarded in Lorain.
Riley and Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the city is reviewing the process that was used and whether there was wrongdoing on the part of current city employees. Riley did say that so far the city has turned up no evidence of any sort of competive bidding process being used for the projects.
Riley said while the city is examing its defenses, he also is working with the federal government to resolve the claims against the city, which could run as high as $615,025 in damages and penalties.
Read Friday’s Chronicle for more on this story.