The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio, C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Jose Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, today announced that the United States filed a civil forfeiture action in connection with the Cuyahoga County corruption investigation.
According to U.S. officials, on Dec. 8, 2009, March 2, 2010, and May 17, 2010, respectively, Teresa Damiani, the widow of attorney Louis C. Damiani, voluntarily turned over the following properties to the United States:
- (1) a quit claim deed for a condominium unit (valued at $500,000) located on West Gulf Drive in Sanibel, Florida;
- (2) an official bank check in the amount of $39,062.79;
- (3) an official bank check in the amount of $1,057,000
The forfeiture complaint alleges that these properties are forfeitable to the United States as a result of Louis Damiani's participation in a conspiracy to bribe Public Official 2 in connection with contracts to perform commercial real estate appraisals for the Cuyahoga County Auditor's Office, officials said.
Public Official 2 that has been referred to in many of the federal charges is said to describe Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo.
Russo has not been named in any charges and has maintained his innocence.
By turning over the above-described properties to the United States, along with an earlier $1.95 million payment, Teresa Damiani has paid back all of the funds -- approximately $3.55 million -- illegally acquired by her deceased husband during the course of the conspiracy, officials confirmed.
Louis Damiani died in September 2006.
This civil forfeiture action is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney James L. Morford.
The related criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann C. Rowland, Antoinette T. Bacon, and Robert J. Patton.
The investigation is being conducted by the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
The investigation is ongoing. Upon completion of this forfeiture proceeding, it is the intent of the United States to return any forfeited property to Cuyahoga County.