By Kathy Wray Coleman, Publisher, Editor-n-Chief,
Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog,
Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper
CLEVELAND, Ohio-A White male judge of a suburban municipal court of greater Cleveland and the city law director, also White, were charged yesterday by a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury with pimping women through an organized prostitution ring out of the Bedford Municipal Court, a court that serves 14 municipalities including the cities of Bedford and Bedford Heights, both suburbs of the majority Black city of Cleveland, which has its own court.
Bedford Municipal Court Judge Harry Jacob III, 57 and on paid leave, and Bedford Law Director Ken Schuman, also on paid leave, are both accused in a 19-count indictment of a misdemeanor count of soliciting prostitutes, and felony acts of taking bribes, having an unlawful interest in a public contract, and money laundering, among a laundry list of other alleged crimes that occurred since 2006.
Police officers and agents of the Bureau of Investigation raided Schuman's office and home last Friday.
Chief Bedford Court Judge Brian Melling, who routinely assigned Jacob to cases and who, according to an investigation by Cleveland Urban news.Com, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper, often covered up his colleagues alleged malfeasance, is now solely running the court, one where Blacks are disproportionately prosecuted and jailed, data show.
The city of Bedford has a population of some 13,000 people, and is roughly 44 percent Black.
Whether the federal government will intervene and take over the Bedford court remains to be seen.
Sources say that efforts are underway to merge Cuyahoga County municipal courts, including the Cleveland Municipal Court, into the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, a proposed takeover
, in fact. That general division court, however, is plagued with malfeasance too, and saw two of its former judges, Bridget McCafferty and Steven Terry, go to federal prison.
McCafferty served a 14-month prison for lying to the FBI on whether she was asked to fix cases, and Terry, who is Black, was sentenced in 2011 to 63 months in prison for campaign fraud, fixing a foreclosure case, and mail fraud.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty (pictured) released press statements to reporters yesterday saying Judge Jacob took bribes, though before the indictment came down a Cleveland Urban News.Com investigation reveals that McGinty would use his employees to allegedly harass and defame Blacks that complained to the FBI and Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Chief Judge Nancy Fuerst about the judge.
Fuerst hears affidavits of disqualification against municipal judges of the county pursuant to state law, though data show that she routinely denies them, regardless of the merits.
In at least one of the filings to Fuerst, Jacob is accused of holding Black women kidnapped in the court, and threatening them with help allegedly from court probation officers and the attorneys assigned to indigent defendants, many maliciously prosecuted, data show.
Former Cleveland attorney Anthony O. Calabrese III, who is now serving a nine-year federal prison sentence for himself taking bribes, among other charges, is the chief snitch, the indictment reveals. He is among more than 50 people, mainly businessman and mostly Democrats, that have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to corruption related crimes pursuant to a longstanding public corruption probe initiated by the IRS and FBI.
The most famous of those now serving time for public corruption are former county auditor Frank Russo and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, a prior chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
Russo is currently serving a 22 -year sentence, and Dimora is serving 28 years for racketeering and a host of other crimes.
Cuyahoga County is roughly 29 percent Black, and the largest of 88 counties statewide.
Sources say that more indictments of public officials of greater Cleveland are coming, including more judges.