CINCINNATI -- The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the appeal of the conviction and sentence of former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Steven Terry.
The ruling was made today.
Terry, 54, is serving his 63-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell, located in southern West Virginia, approximately four miles north of the City of Welch and about 48 miles Southwest of Beckley, West Virginia.
On Oct. 4, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi sentenced Terry to 63 months on each of three corruption-related charges. The sentences are to run concurrently.
One of the five charges against Terry accused him of following a request from then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo to do a favor for him and deny motions for summary judgment in a case before him.
Terry denied the allegations, but prosecutors say he granted the favor in exchange for Russo's help in his 2008 election campaign.
In their ruling today, the appeals court wrote: "But when a public official acts as a donor's marionette -- by deciding a case to the donor's benefit immediately after the donor asks him to and without reading anything about the case -- a jury can reject legitimate explanations for a contribution and infer that it flowed from a bribery agreement."
Terry was sentenced on three counts of mail fraud and "honest services" and acquitted on two counts. The federal honest services statute makes it a crime to defraud citizens of their intangible rights to the honest and impartial government.
In addition to the prison time, Lioi sentenced Terry to two years supervised release and 250 hours community service and to make restitution and forefit soem funds.
Terry had requested that he serve his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan. FCI Milan is located in southeastern Michigan, 45 miles south of Detroit, 15 miles south of Ann Arbor, and 30 miles north of Toledo.
His lead attorney, Angelo Lonardo, asked for that facility so there would be little or no chance that Terry would be housed in a facility where he had sent defendants that he had sentenced during his two years on the bench.
Terry, a married father of one, was convicted June 13, 2011, of three corruption-related charges related to fixing that foreclosure case for Russo and of performing campaign work with court employees on county time.
The restitution to Cuyahoga County is for time spent by county employees working on Terry's election campaign. The jury acquitted him of two other charges.
Terry spoke for 20 seconds at his sentencing, thanking his family and friends for their support and saying, "I respectfully disagree with the verdict."
Lonardo did not represent Terry in his appeal of his convictions. Terry hired attorney Sylvester Summers to handle his appeal.
Lonardo confirmed in court that his representation of Terry began Sept. 23, 2008, the day the FBI and ATF searched his chambers in the Justice Center. Terry was not charged until Sept. 15, 2010.
Terry, who had been appointed to the bench in April, 2007, by then-Gov. Ted Strickland, won election to the seat in November, 2008.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon asked Lioi to sentence Terry to the maximum months "when a judge fixes a case for his own benefit."
Bacon said Terry "compounded the problem by taking the stand (in his own defense) and then lying about it."
"He engaged in a pattern of lying...he was a former prosecutor...and as a judge..he understands what the law is...he knew better, your honor," Bacon said.
Russo helped Terry with his November, 2008 election campaign and helped him decide which fundraisers and events he should appear at to get better known.
Lioi waived any fine.
Terry has liquidated his Ohio Public Employees Retirement account -- valued at $245,737.66. After taxes, he paid restitution to Cuyahoga County in the amount of $27,887 and $29,319.33 in forfeiture.
Terry was on leave from the court until his June 13, 2011 conviction, when he resigned from the bench.
Gov. John Kasich appointed Pamela Barker to his seat in Common Pleas Court.