Cleveland businessman Michael Forlani changes plea to guilty on corruption charges

Former Dimora confident drops legal fight

AKRON, Ohio - UPDATE: Corruption defendant Michael Forlani has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and will face 70 to 90 months in a federal prison.

Forlani changed his plea to guilty Thursday afternoon in federal court.

When asked if he understood the charges against him, Forlani replied in a clear, strong voice, "Yes I do, your honor."

Forlani has also agreed to forfeit $900,000 and pay restitution of up to $305,0551.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6, 2012.

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ORIGINAL STORY:
Cleveland businessman Michael Forlani is expected to change his plea to guilty on corruption charges during a hearing scheduled Thursday afternoon in federal court.

Forlani originally pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other corruption charges last October after a federal grand jury returned a 91-page indictment.

Forlani hired a former U.S. Attorney in Chicago, who successfully prosecuted one of Illinois' largest public corruption cases, to defend him.

Since then, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, two Cuyahoga County judges and scores of other defendants have been sent to prison on charges related to the massive FBI probe.

Forlani's decision to plead guilty comes just weeks after Dimora was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

The 55-year-old businessman was accused of bribing Dimora in exchange for lucrative county contracts. According to the indictment, gifts included a $12,578 outdoor television and an indoor audio-video system in exchange for business.

His business ventures included work at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that Forlani was recorded on wiretaps speaking with Dimora.

In one exchange, laced with expletives, Forlani allegedly tells Dimora  "This ***favor thing has gone way***distorted... It's like a teeter-tot with you sitting on one end and me at the top."

Thursday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi.

We will have full updates on newsnet5.com, Twittter, Facebook and later on NewsChannel5.

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