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Press Release

Former Head of Anti-Poverty Agency Sentenced to Prison for Accepting Bribes

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

The former head of a Cleveland-area anti-poverty agency was sentence to 30 months in prison for accepting more than $23,000 in cash, home renovations and other things of value in exchange for steering work to specific contractors, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office, and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region.

Jacqueline K. Middleton, 69, of Shaker Heights, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of honest services fraud, one count of bribery in federally funded programs and one count of Hobbs Act Conspiracy.

“Middleton violated the trust of taxpayers and the people she had pledged to serve,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“Middleton padded her pocket with monies for federally funded contracts she awarded,” Anthony said. “Law enforcement will continue to root out individuals illegally capitalizing on their trusted position. ”

“Ms. Middleton held a position of trust and was expected to be a good steward in her utilization of taxpayer funds. She chose otherwise and was held accountable for her actions” Pugh said. “The OIG will continue to investigate allegations involving the misuse or misappropriation taxpayer funds in concert with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners to ensure that those who breech the public’s trust are held accountable.”

Middleton served as president and chief executive officer of the Council of Economic Opportunities of Greater Cleveland. The CEOGC was organized with the purpose of serving low-income people of Cuyahoga County and Greater Cleveland. The CEOGC administered several federal, state and local programs designed to address the needs of low-income individuals, including Head Start, the Community Services Block Grant program and the Home Energy Assistance program.

From 2008 through around August 7, 2012, Middleton used her official position to enrich herself by soliciting and accepting gifts, payments and other things of value from contractors who did business with CEOGC. These gifts and payments were made in exchange for favorable action from Middleton for the payors and their companies, according to the information.

Middleton solicited and accepted gifts, payments and other things of value totaling more than $12,017 from a person identified as Contractor No. 1 and totaling approximately $11,200 from a person identified as Contractor No. 2. The things of value included kickbacks from CEOGC payments, home renovation work and payments to vendors for related supplies on her behalf, according to the information.

Middleton provided official favorable action Company No. 1 and Contractor No. 2 as requested and as opportunities arose. That included authorizing CEOGC contracts which retained Contractor No. 2 for consulting services and which retained Company No. 1 for work including parking lot renovations, classroom remodeling and flooring remodeling at various sites and offices administered by CEOGC, according to the information.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Collyer following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General.

Updated March 19, 2015