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Press Release

Businessman charged for trying to bribe East Cleveland councilman

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

An East Cleveland businessman was charged for attempting to bribe a councilman in that city in exchange for support in getting a liquor license, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mukundkumar Patel, 52, was charged in a criminal information with one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

“This councilman acted as we expect all public officials would and immediately reported a bribe offer to the FBI, who did great work following up,” Dettelbach said. “The lesson of this case is simple: ‘briber beware.’”

“We will not tolerate individuals believing they can circumvent the law by bribing a public official,” Anthony said. “The FBI commends the public official involved for adhering to his ethical principles by not accepting the bribe made by this business owner.”

Patel began renovating the former bar area of McCalls into a Convenient Food Mart which would sell beer and wine. Doing so would require a liquor license, which requires a written application endorsed by the city of East Cleveland, according to the information.

Patel submitted a liquor license application. City officials told Patel they were not inclined to endorse his application but would consider his request after speaking with community stakeholders, according to the information.

On October 15, 2014, Patel met with an East Cleveland councilman, identified in the charges only as Public Official 1, and offered to pay $2,000 if the councilman would sign the application. The councilman refused and Patel raised his offer to $3,000. The councilman again refused and Patel told the councilman to name his price, according to the information.

Unbeknownst to Patel, the councilman contacted the FBI to report the bribe solicitation. On Oct. 23, 2014, Patel again met with the councilman, who was acting at the FBI’s direction. Patel offered the councilman $4,000 up front and $1,000 later in return for signing Patel’s beer and wine application, according to the information.

The next day, Patel and the councilman met again and Patel paid him $4,000 in cash. The councilman turned the money over to the FBI, according to the information.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon following an investigation by the FBI.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

A charge 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.

Updated August 21, 2015

Public Corruption