LORAIN — Former Lorain Community Development Director Sandy Prudoff used his influence with former Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin to ensure that attorney Anthony Calabrese III’s law firm was hired and retained as the city’s bond counsel, according to an indictment handed down this week in Cuyahoga County against Prudoff and Calabrese.
Foltin is not mentioned by name in the indictment, but he matches the description of “Public Official Number 1” in the court documents. He did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Foltin, now the treasurer and executive vice president for administration and finance at Cuyahoga Community College, has not been charged with a crime and is not among those identified as a defendant or potential defendant in the case.
Calabrese allegedly arranged payments to Prudoff of $164,000, much of it through Alternatives Agency Inc., a Cleveland halfway house that Calabrese served as an attorney and where Prudoff was purportedly working as a consultant. Prudoff is now serving a two-year prison term after pleading out to federal charges that he performed little or no work to justify his consulting fees, failed to pay taxes on the money and lied to the FBI.
In exchange for the bribes, the indictment said, Prudoff, “as the longtime Community Development Director for the City of Lorain, had the influence and control to direct public spending within the City of Lorain, and exercised influence over Public Official Number 1.”
Calabrese’s law firm, Vorys, Sater, Seymore & Pease, which isn’t identified by name in the indictment, did more than $1.6 million worth of business with the city since 2001, Lorain officials have said. Most of that work was for the Community Development Department.
“Public Official Number 1 hired Calabrese and Unidentified Law Firm as the City of Lorain bond counsel and ensured Calabrese and Unidentified Law Firm continued to be bond counsel while he was in office,” the indictment said.
Foltin resigned to take the Tri-C job in 2007.
Prudoff served as the city’s primary point of contact with Vorys, the indictment said, and personally signed more than 68 approval vouchers totaling approximately $1.3 million for the law firm.
The bribes were paid to Prudoff in a variety of ways, including the $120,000 he received in consulting fees from Alternatives, according to the indictment. The halfway house also allegedly paid $36,000 in unjustified consulting fees to William Wells, the son of Prudoff’s longtime girlfriend, Margaret Wells.
Calabrese also had former Lakewood Mayor Anthony Sinagra, who is awaiting sentencing on federal corruption charges for taking unearned consulting fees from Alternatives, pay Williams $8,000 between May 2006 and August 2006, according to the indictment.
William Wells, Margaret Wells and her daughter, Kimberly Wells, would then endorse and cash the checks and turn the money over to Prudoff, according to the indictment. Both Margaret Wells and Kimberly Wells are listed as defendants in the indictment, but have not been charged.
Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will declined to comment on the ongoing investigation Wednesday. A Vorys spokeswoman also declined to comment on the indictment.
The city of Lorain has hired a Cleveland law firm to investigate taking legal action to recover money the city spent on deals that may be tarnished by corruption. That legal review is still ongoing.
Calabrese was sentenced earlier this year to nine years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the Cuyahoga County corruption investigation that became public in 2008 and has snared dozens of former government officials and contractors.
The new charges also accuse Calabrese of bribing imprisoned former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and others as part of an effort to restore cut funding to Alternatives and for bribing another county worker for inside information on Cuyahoga County’s purchase of the Ameritrust building for $21.8 million several years ago.
Calabrese had already been facing charges he and two other lawyers conspired to bribe witnesses in the case of accused serial rapist Thomas Castro.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.