Former mayor pleads guilty in loan scandal

PAINESVILLE, Ohio - A former mayor could be sentenced to a year in prison and fined $2,500 for his role in helping a developer improperly secure millions of dollars in state loans.

Dan DiLiberto, who resigned in 2004 because of a heart condition after 10 years as mayor of Eastlake, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lake County Common Pleas Court to attempted falsification.

DiLiberto, 58, signed a letter while in office to have the city guarantee a $3 million loan for developer John Chiappetta, who said he needed the money to develop an industrial park.

"I signed a letter that had some untruths in it. I trusted an individual I should not have," said DiLiberto, who recently had knee replacement surgery and appeared in court in a wheelchair.

DiLiberto did not benefit financially from the crime, said Karen Kowall, assistant Lake County prosecutor. His motive was to see the industrial park completed, she said.

Chiappetta, 60, pleaded guilty Monday to corrupt activity, theft and forgery for taking the state loans for the Eastlake industrial park. He faces up to 18 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Chiappetta was owner of E and W Inc. in Eastlake, a sheet metal plant. He defaulted on the state loans, reneged on the planned 40-acre park and closed his business, firing more than 100 workers.

"There is still a lot of anger in town, and that is a hard thing to overcome," said Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski.

Andrzejewski said the city had no business co-signing a loan for a developer who couldn't get the credit himself.

DiLiberto, who lives in Florida, is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

Eastlake is about 20 miles northeast of Cleveland.

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