Cleveland firefighter charged in connection with Richmond Heights school officials corruption case

CLEVELAND - A Cleveland firefighter has been charged in connection with corruption by former Richmond Heights Local Schools officials.

John T. Cook, 46, of Cleveland, was charged with tampering with records and forgery after prosecutors said he helped former Richmond Heights Local Schools Director of Buildings and Grounds Richard Muse forge documents to get his job.

Cook, who worked at Station 10 on E. 101st Street and was with the department for 20 years, also operated a construction company. He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave from the Cleveland Fire Department until all disciplinary actions are completed.

Without Cook's help forging documents that claimed Muse had skills and training he did not, Muse would not have been eligible to be hired at the school district, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said.

Muse is serving a 10-month sentence for theft and forgery. The forgery charge was for the same documents prosecutors said Cook helped him with.

Muse and former Richmond Heights Superintendent Robert Moore were arrested in February on charges that they "shook down" a local business.

Prosecutor Tim McGinty said that the two threatened to terminate a business' contract with the district if it did not pay the two cash. The business paid the two men twice, the second time on Feb. 28. When the search warrants were conducted that evening, prosecutors said that $3,400 in cash was recovered.

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