Huron man pleads guilty in Cuyahoga County corruption case

HURON A Huron man who worked as an attorney in Cleveland pleaded guilty this week to a federal consp
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

HURON

A Huron man who worked as an attorney in Cleveland pleaded guilty this week to a federal conspiracy charge tied to a public-corruption investigation in Cuyahoga County.

Timothy Armstrong, 65, is facing 37 to 46 months in prison for helping distribute $1.3 million in kickbacks to two Cuyahoga County officials. In return, those officials awarded multimillion-dollar contracts benefiting Armstrong and other attorneys at his Cleveland law firm, Armstrong, Mitchell, Damiani and Zaccagnini.

As part of his plea, Armstrong agreed to pay $1.5 million in restitution, half of which is due by year's end. The rest must be paid in two installments over the next two years, U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards said.

Armstrong's fellow attorney at the Cleveland firm, Bruce Zaccagnini, was charged in the conspiracy, as was Santina Klimkowski, a Maple Heights school board member and employee in Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo's office. Both are expected to plead guilty this week, Edwards said.

A third partner at Armstrong's law firm died three years ago, while the fourth hasn't been indicted. The law firm was dissolved three years ago, according to court documents.

Klimkowski and an unnamed Cuyahoga County public official -- believed to be Russo, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer -- accepted $1.3 million in bribes from Armstrong's law firm. In exchange for the bribes, an unnamed company tied to the law firm was granted 10 property-appraisal contracts from 1998 to 2008, collectively worth $21.5 million, Edwards said.

Cuyahoga County has been roiling in the wake of a dogged public-corruption investigation by federal officials.

Edwards said he's unaware of any areas where the investigation in Cleveland is connected to Erie County, save for Armstrong living in Huron.

Armstrong's state attorney registration lists his home address as 430 Williams St. in Huron, though no such address exists. Huron police and Erie County sheriff's office said they have no address listed for Armstrong, but the Erie County Auditor's Web site shows he owns two homes in Huron -- one on Miami Place and one on Wyandot Place.