Cleveland Demolition contractor to plead guilty to bribing Cleveland official for quick inspections
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CLEVELAND, Ohio — A local contractor is expected to plead guilty to paying hundreds of dollars a city of Cleveland official in exchange for favorable treatment during inspections. Paul Eadeh, the owner of Broadway Wrecking in Cleveland, was charged in federal court Tuesday with three counts of honest services mail fraud. Eadeh paid $600 to Rufus Taylor, then the city’s demolition bureau chief, between September 2016 and September 2017, charging documents say.
Eadeh, 51, bribed Taylor so he would give the contractor favorable treatment and provide quick inspections of his company’s work, which allowed him to obtain a permit and get paid more quickly. He is the fourth person charged, including Taylor, in what has become a years-long probe into bribes paid to the former city official by myriad contractors.
The contractor, who lives in Parma Heights, was charged via a criminal information, which is usually a sign that a plea agreement is forthcoming. His attorney Denise Demmitt confirmed that her client would plead guilty but also said he had paid the bribes as a “result of the continuous pressure” from Taylor.
Taylor pleaded guilty in September 2018 to extortion and bribery in a federally funded program, admitting to taking thousands of dollars in bribes from two contractors and gave them preferential treatment for government-funded demolition and abatement projects. He worked for the city for 30 years and retired in January 2018. He has not been sentenced.
In September 2016, Eadeh’s company received a contract to demolish a building on East 71st Street, the information states. Taylor conducted a clean-hole bulkhead inspection and told Eadeh he passed. On Oct. 3, 2016, the pair met up, and Eadeh paid Taylor $100 in cash, according to prosecutors. Two days later, Taylor conducted a final compliance inspection at the property and told Eadeh he passed. On Oct. 6, 2016, Eadeh paid Taylor another $100, according to prosecutors. Eadeh also paid Taylor $100 on Oct. 28, 2016, the day Taylor inspected a to-be-demolished property on East 147th Street, and gave him the OK. He did the same on Nov. 26, 2016 for a job on Otokar Street, the information says.
In November 2016, Eadeh’s company won a bid for a Cuyahoga County Land Bank demolition project on Raymond Avenue. On Dec. 3, 2016, Taylor inspected the property and told Eadeh he passed. Eadeh paid him $50 in cash, according to prosecutors. The bribes continued into 2017. Eadeh paid Taylor $50 for favorable treatment during an inspection for a property on Harvard Avenue in July 2017, and $100 the next month for a Land Bank job on East 53rd Street, the information states. Demmitt said Taylor solicited all the bribes through “veiled intimidation and veiled threats with regard to his ongoing business” and noted that he did it with other people. She said her client has historically been an honest businessman.
Eadeh is the third contractor federal prosecutors charged as part of its probe. North Royalton contractor Martin Fano pleaded guilty to honest services mail and wire fraud and admitted to paying Taylor $460 in bribes and giving him free meals. Senior U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko in September ordered Fano to pay a $4,000 fine.
Warrensville Heights resident Eric Witherspoon, who ran Arick’s Environmental Services and Arick’s Services, pleaded guilty in September to bribery concerning a federally funded program. He admitted to giving Taylor a $3,000 bribe in 2013 for help in getting on the city’s bid list for a demolition job, as well as for a quick inspection. The city awarded Witherspoon the $147,000 contract. Boyko has not yet sentenced Witherspoon.
By Eric Heisig, cleveland.com