Frank Russo’s sentence for Cuyahoga County corruption scheme cut from 22 years to 14

Judge says cooperation “significant” but not what Russo wanted.

Frank Russo’s sentence for Cuyahoga County corruption scheme cut from 22 years to 14

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Frank Russo began cooperating with investigators in 2010 on the day he entered a guilty plea to a laundry list of corruption schemes. Part of the deal was to lower his sentence for providing substantial assistance at the end of all the cases.

Judge reduces prison sentence for former Cuyahoga County auditor Frank Russo by 8 years

His argument in court on Thursday was that, thanks to him, 11 defendants pleaded guilty before trial and he testified truthfully at the trials of four others, including partner-in-crime, Jimmy Dimora.

Russo appeared by video hook-up, using oxygen and appearing to have gained weight and age.

Was the cooperation worth a break of six years and two months as prosecutors argued? Or the 12 years and three months his lawyers said?

Russo addressed the issue, saying, “I worked very, very, very hard on the case. I gave it my all with all my heart.”

Russo spoke after learning his sentence was lowered to 15 years; not the 11 his lawyers asked for.

He said, “I’m a little shocked at how the prosecution looked at it.”

His family left court without comment.

His attorney Roger Synenberg did speak, asked by Cleveland 19, “You’ve made the point that they totally undervalued his cooperation. That he spent hours, countless hours. Can you explain?”

Synenberg replied, “That was the bone of contention here because the ultimate issue for the judge was the value of his consideration. Obviously, she gave it some significant value, she lowered it 94 months I think. I haven’t done the math, but it wasn’t where we wanted to be.”

The comparison to J. Kevin Kelley, who also cooperated, but much earlier, fell on deaf ears.

Experienced lawyers will quote an old saying and that is, “The first baby in the bath water comes out the cleanest.”

In this case, Kevin Kelly was the first one to cooperate with the government, and came out the cleanest.

Frank was 843 days late and didn’t come out quite as clean. The judge basically split the difference in this case.

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