Former City of Cleveland employee sentenced to prison for extortion
A former City of Cleveland employee was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months of house arrest 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, previously pleaded guilty to three counts of extortion under color of official right.
“Today’s sentence sends a message that there will be continuing consequences for those who seek use their public job as a way to enrich themselves,” Dettelbach said.
“Public corruption at any level is a breach of the public’s trust," Anthony said. "The FBI thanks the City of Cleveland, Division of Police - Intelligence Unit and the three area businesses that were solicited by Woods for their cooperation in bringing this matter to justice”
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, according to court records.
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.
Woods told representatives of the three companies that in exchange for a cash payment, he 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.