Former County Auditor Frank Russo begins his last seven - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

I'm Guilty: Former County Auditor Frank Russo begins his last seven months as a free man

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CLEVELAND FEDERAL COURT, OH (WOIO) - Former County Auditor Frank Russo pleaded guilty to 21 charges at his arraignment Thursday afternoon.

The government recommended 262 months for Russo, that's almost 22 years, and Judge O'Malley accepted it. In return he asked that no charges be leveled against his family.

Russo told the judge that he is not healthy. He says he suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, two stents in his heart, anxiety, gout and a rash on his face.

He is expected to turn himself in May 16, 2011, but he'll be back in Federal Court in December to be officially sentenced.

Russo resigned one week ago after being charged federally in the Cuyahoga County corruption probe.

The former County Auditor was facing 21 counts involving tax fraud, obstruction of justice and bribery schemes that go back as far as march of 1998. [Read the entire information HERE]

Prosecutors say Russo participated in numerous bribery schemes beginning in March of 1998 continuing through May of 2009. Specifically, it charges that Russo solicited and accepted things of value, such as cash, home improvements and travel to Las Vegas in exchange for county contracts, jobs, raises, reductions in tax valuations and other official favors.

Frank was also order to pay back some of that money, and he'll do so by cashing in a life insurance policy. Some of the money will also come from his pension.

On November 1st, he has to cough up $35,000 and another interesting fact to all of this, Judge O'Malley says that he will not be able to make any proceeds off any type of book deal.

In addition, the information charges that Russo filed false tax returns for the years 2004-2008 and that he obstructed justice.

Russo has been at the center of the ongoing FBI corruption probe since the summer of 2008, but has been steadfast in maintaining his innocence.

David Reines has taken over as County Auditor. He will hold the job until January 1st, when the elected county auditor's office job will be eliminated.

Copyright 2010 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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