Cuyahoga County corruption probe: Steven Terry

CLEVELAND - Former Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Terry was arrested on the same day in 2010 as Jimmy Dimora and then-judge Bridget McCafferty.

When Terry appeared in court on Sept. 15, 2010, he pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Nancy Fuerst, the Presiding and Administrative Judge of the County Common Pleas Court, released the following statement about the day's events: "We are saddened by the developments but the work of the court continues. We are aware of the charges and that the judges were taken into custody. We have contacted the Ohio Supreme Court which will inform us of how to proceed."

"I wouldn't call it secret. I got case numbers. I looked at the docket and I ruled on some motions. I didn't think I was doing anything wrong," Terry said when he took the stand. During closing arguments of the trial, the prosecutor said there are recorded phone conversations between Terry and former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo that proved Terry was corrupt.

"I did what you wanted in the case. I took care of the issues and denied all motions," Terry allegedly said to Russo during one of the calls from July 2008. Russo testified earlier that he gave campaign contributions to Terry and expected to get benefits, like favorable rulings, in return.

Terry was found guilty on June 13, 2011 on three of the five charges he was facing. Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association President Barbara Roman issued this statement following the verdict:

"Today is unquestionably a sad day for our community. As one would expect, the conviction of Judge Terry is troubling to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and to the lawyers and judges in our community who comprise our membership. We recognize the fact that an independent, impartial and fair judiciary is indispensable to our system of justice. We understand, in the wake of this conviction, that front page publicity and evidence introduced at trial may cause some to question the overall soundness and integrity of our bench."

He was sentenced to 63 months in prison for allegedly fixing a foreclosure case. The sentencing judge said Terry's lack of truth during testimony is what landed him the maximum penalty behind bars on the corruption-related charges, including doing campaign work with court employees on county time.

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