Cuyahoga County passes new, tough law banning crooked contractors from gaining taxpayer business

Exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation prompts law

CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County has passed new, tough legislation banning crooked contractors from gaining taxpayer business following an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation.

County Executive Ed FitzGerald promised to initiate a new county ordinance last July after a 5 On Your Side investigation revealed how companies associated with criminal activity, such as bribes, continued to do business involving taxpayer funded contracts.

Our report found that Cuyahoga County continued to do business with one company -- even while a former employee was in prison on bribery charges.

Under the new ordinance, contractors convicted of a crime are banned from doing business with the county for five years.

"It's to prevent people that have violated the public trust from doing business with a public entity again," said FitzGerald.

"Unfortunately, folks would get convicted. They would turn right around and within a short period of time would be doing business with the same entities they had defrauded in the first place."

Contractors convicted of fraud, ethics violations, false statements -- even lack of integrity -- can be banned under the new ordinance.

The extensive probe into Cuyahoga County corruption and a federal probe into officials underscored the need for safeguards.

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