Cuyahoga County corruption probe: Bridget McCafferty

CLEVELAND - Former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Bridget McCafferty was working out a gym she was notified of her indictment and turned herself in at FBI headquarters.

The then-judge was serving her second term as an elected official at the time of her arrest. She was taken into custody on Sept. 15, 2010, the same day as fellow judge Steven Terry.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association issued a statement from President Michael N. Ungar about the arrests of the two judges:

"This is unquestionably a sad day for the Cleveland legal community. The allegations leading to the arrests of two Common Pleas Court judges are appalling. We must keep in mind the presumption of innocence that is afforded to all defendants - and judges are no exception. However, if these two judges are indeed guilty as charged, then they should be afforded no special treatment and should be treated like any other criminal defendant.

"Fortunately, this is not a reflection of the overall quality of our local judiciary, which remains very high.

"A judge's role is to be a fair and impartial arbitrator of conflicts - one who respects and follows the law, and is above influence. The vast majority of our judges respect that concept and practice it every day in their courtrooms. Despite today's arrests, the legal community has enormous respect for the legal system in Northeast Ohio and has confidence in those who continue to serve it."

Prosecutors charged McCafferty with lying to the FBI about conversations concerning pending court cases. They alleged McCafferty was trying to fix them at former commissioner Jimmy Dimora and former auditor Frank Russo's request.

Jurors listened to eight wiretaps during the trial. On one, Dimora can be heard bragging that he "has a nice talk with Bridget," where he was referencing a friend's case in McCafferty's courtroom. The friend Dimora is referring to is former DAS Construction president Steve Pumper, who pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges. McCafferty denied those accusations, saying she told the agents the truth.

McCafferty did not take the witness stand in her own defense. Her defense team rested its case after calling just four witnesses; two of them worked for Russo. Defense attorneys hoped that testimony proved Russo was lying when he told the jury that he frequently supported McCafferty's campaign for judge in a number of different ways.

After less than an hour of deliberations, McCafferty was found guilty on all 10 charges in March 2011.

"I answered all their questions in a manner that I believe to be truthful," said McCafferty after the verdict. She was denied an appeal.

In September 2011, a federal prison official at the Federal Correctional Facility at Alderson, W.Va. said McCafferty began a 14-month.

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