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Former RTA board president to plead guilty in healthcare theft case

George Dixon is accused of theft in office.
Credit: RTA

George Dixon, the former board president of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, has agreed to plead guilty to theft in office charges, according to Cuyahoga County prosecutors.

He's due back in court Aug. 22 at 8 a.m.

Assistant County Prosecutor James Gutierrez said Dixon has been cooperative with the investigation, not only in his case, but in other ongoing investigations. 

Gutierrez would not identify the other suspects nor would he say how many suspects are under investigation.

Dixon's attorney, Kevin Spellacy, would not comment on Dixon's cooperation in other cases.

"I'll just say [Dixon] accepts responsibility for his conduct and leave it at that," Spellacy said.

Dixon was accused last year of accepting more than $1 million in health care benefits that he was not entitled to receive and unpaid premiums for insurance provided by the transit agency over a 24-year period, according to an internal investigation by RTA's trustees.

Dennis Clough, RTA's current board president and the mayor of Westlake, released a statement Tuesday critical of Dixon's conduct.

"Mr. Dixon abused the public's trust for personal benefit. We are encouraged to see that justice is being served," Clough said in the statement. "We do not tolerate abuse of taxpayer money, and we have controls in place to prevent this from happening again."

According to RTA, the system is "pursuing, through insurance claim recovery, the more than $1.1 million in healthcare benefits and unpaid premiums for insurance provided by RTA for a 24-year period ending on March 1, 2018."

The RTA wrote in the statement that "The Board policy at the time stated that trustees could enroll in RTA's healthcare plan but had to pay 100 percent of the healthcare premiums to be eligible.

"The investigation showed that Mr. Dixon enrolled in April of 1994 and never fully paid his premiums in accordance with board policies. The Board changed the policy in May 2018: Trustees are no longer eligible for RTA's healthcare."

Dixon resigned last year and the investigation was taken on by county prosecutors. Dixon is expected to plead to a bill of information and not contest the charge. He is expected to make restitution of $132,000.

Dixon served as the board president since 1994.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.