Velez, 56, was found guilty last year of falsification during a bench trial before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who cleared him of bribery and soliciting or receiving improper compensation charges.
Brent English, Velez’s attorney, said his client will appeal.
The case against Velez centered on work he did at a rental property owned by David Fetter, who testified that when Velez and another city worker were inspecting the house in January 2007, Velez said there wasn’t proper heating in the bedroom. Fetter said Velez told him that if he wanted to pass the inspection he could install the baseboard heating.
Fetter complained to the city in 2009 when Velez failed the plumbing in the property because of a leaking hot water heater. He testified that he felt Velez was trying to shake him down again.
During the trial, English attacked Fetter’s credibility, pointing to inconsistencies between what he told police and a private investigator working for English. Fetter testified that he deliberately lied to the investigator.
And although Fetter’s wife testified that she recalled going to Velez’s house to drop off a $220 payment for the installation of the baseboard heating system, Velez’s ex-wife testified that she was home that day and didn’t recall Fetter coming to the house. Other witnesses said Velez wouldn’t have had time to do the job in the time frame Fetter described in his testimony.
Burge said when he handed down the verdict that the handwriting on the invoice matched Velez’s handwriting and he was convinced Velez had written the document.
Velez told then-Lorain police Lt. Mark Carpentiere in 2009 that he hadn’t written the document.
Burge said Monday that he hopes Velez is successful in his efforts to win back his city job.
“He should be 56 at this point and one blemish on a record that long should not give rise to a disqualification from employment in my opinion,” Burge said.
Assistant County Prosecutor Nick Hanek had asked Burge to sentence Velez to time in the Lorain County Jail. Burge put in place a six-month jail sentence, but suspended that time.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.