Former City of Cleveland Employee indicted for extortion
A former City of Cleveland employee was indicted on charges of Hobbs Act extortion for attempting to extort bribes from three companies in connection with his employment as a contract compliance officer, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland office.
Lejon C. Woods, age 29, of Cleveland, is charged with three counts of extortion under color of official right.
“The businesses solicited by Woods were not involved in any type of illegal conduct,” Dettelbach said. “To the contrary, these companies should be commended because they came forward and contacted law enforcement when Woods made his bribe solicitations.”
The indictment charges that Woods, while acting in his capacity as a contract compliance officer with the City of Cleveland, solicited bribes from representatives of three local businesses, one of which was a nonprofit business, in connection with fines which were going to be imposed for non-compliance of contract requirements.
The conduct took place from May 18, 2010, through August 5, 2010, according to the indictment.
When City of Cleveland funds are used to pay for any part of a construction or rehabilitation project, the company involved in the project is subject to City of Cleveland, Office of Contract Compliance regulations relating to the hiring of certain percentages of minority business enterprises, disadvantaged business enterprises and city resident workers, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that at various times, Woods told representatives of the three companies that in exchange for a cash payment, Woods would alter records with the City of Cleveland to reflect compliance.
Woods obtained or attempted to obtain cash payments of $2,800, $3,000 and $1,200 from the respective companies, according to the indictment.
The indictment is a result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Cleveland Division of Police, Intelligence Unit. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Henry F. DeBaggis.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.
In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.