September 30, 2014

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Lawyer Anthony Calabrese III pleads guilty to corruption charges

Anthony Calabrese

Anthony Calabrese III

Lawyer Anthony Calabrese III pleaded guilty Friday to corruption charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, including allegations he bribed former Lorain Community Development Director Sandy Prudoff into steering city business to his law firm.

Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Calabrese to 4½ years in prison, although that sentence will be served at the same time as the 9 years he is serving in a federal prison after pleading guilty in the long-running Cuyahoga County corruption investigation.

Cosgove also ordered Calabrese to pay $25,000 in fines, according to a news release from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty’s office.

Prudoff, who is serving a 2-year sentence in prison on federal charges, has pleaded not guilty to state charges for his alleged involvement with Calabrese.

According to the indictment filed against the two men earlier this year, Calabrese arranged for Prudoff to receive $164,000, much of it through Alternatives Agency, a Cleveland halfway house where Prudoff was working as a consultant. But according to the federal charges Prudoff pleaded guilty to, he did little or no work to justify the fees he received from Alternatives.

In exchange for the payments, Prudoff “had the influence and control to direct spending within the City of Lorain, and exercised influence over Public Office Number 1.” Although not identified by name in the indictment, “Public Official Number 1” matches the description of former Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin, who has not been charged in the case.

Foltin, who left office in 2007, now serves as treasurer and executive vice president for administration and finance at Cuyahoga County Community College.

Prudoff allegedly convinced Foltin to hire and retain Calabrese’s then-law firm, Vorys, Sater, Seymore & Pease, to serve as the city’s bond counsel, according to the indictment.

Calabrese’s guilty plea to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery and theft also covers $70,000 in bribes he paid to J. Kevin Kelley, a former Parma Schools board member and Cuyahoga County employee at the center of the federal corruption probe, the release said.

That bribe was to pay for inside information about Cuyahoga County’s purchase of the former Ameritrust complex in Cleveland, which at one point was supposed to serve as the county’s new headquarters, according to the indictment.

In addition to the corruption charges, Calabrese also pleaded guilty to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and bribery in connection with an effort to bribe two victims in the rape case against Thomas Castro.

Two other attorneys, Marc Doumbas and Giles Timothy Marshall, also face charges in connection with the scheme that involved a series of bribes worth $150,000 that were to be paid to the victims for them to change their testimony and for them to write letters seeking leniency in the case, according to the news release.

Joe Frolik, a McGinty spokesman, said Castro, Doubas and Marshall are all awaiting trial.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.