In a major development in Cleveland’s ongoing government corruption scandal, Frank Russo — once the gregarious front man of the local Democratic Party — solemnly agreed Thursday to what amounts to a life sentence in prison in exchange for concessions that protect his family from further prosecution and allow him to stay free long enough to witness the birth of three grandchildren,the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
Russo pleaded guilty to 21 corruption-related offenses as part of a deal accepted by U.S. District Judge Kate O’Malley. The 60-year-old former Cuyahoga County auditor will be sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison. Russo was charged last week on the same day he resigned as auditor, a job he held since 1997 and used as his personal money-making machine. He admitted that he and colleagues took in more than $1 million in bribes and kickbacks, partied on the dime of co-conspirators in Las Vegas and used his influence to get friends jobs and county contracts.