The public-corruption investigation that paralyzed Cuyahoga County, Ohio, government Monday unraveled the political and business ties of the county’s most powerful and colorful players: Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Auditor Frank Russo, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The federal investigation centers on allegations that they traded jobs and contracts for thousands of dollars of free improvements to their homes and properties. The investigation went public when nearly 200 agents from the FBI and IRS simultaneously raided county offices, businesses and homes at 9 a.m.
The operation was so broad that the FBI brought in agents from Pittsburgh and used three U-Haul trucks to take away cartons of documents and other items. The nearly inseparable duo built a Democratic machine by hiring friends and allies, which is the subject of a continuing Plain Dealer investigative series. And the two have helped the party control every elected office in the county for decades, partly through Dimora’s role as county Democratic Party chairman. But the investigation could end their control and hasten efforts under way by the legislature and governor to consolidate the county’s elected offices.