North Royalton contractor fined $4,000 for bribing Cleveland demolition bureau chief

Eric Heisig - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A federal judge fined a North Royalton contractor $4,000 for bribing a city of Cleveland demolition official.

ABC Construction Martin Fano paid $460 in bribes and gave free meals to Rufus Taylor, then the city’s demolition bureau chief, between June 2016 and January 2017.

Fano, 69, bribed Taylor so the city would provide quick inspections of his company’s work, which allowed him to get paid and move on to other demolition jobs faster than his competitors. Fano also expected Taylor to pressure and advise other city employees so that Fano could avoid compliance requirements, get faster service and more favorable treatment, prosecutors wrote in an indictment.

He pleaded guilty in June to seven counts of honest services mail and wire fraud, on the day his trial was set to begin.

In addition to the fine, U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko on Wednesday also placed Fano on probation for a year.

Taylor pleaded guilty in September 2018 to extortion and bribery in a federally funded program, admitting to taking thousands of dollars in bribes from two contractors and gave them preferential treatment for government-funded demolition and abatement projects.

He worked for the city for 30 years and retired in January 2018. His sentencing is set for Oct. 8.

Fano is one of two contractors charged in connection to Taylor. Eric Witherspoon, who ran Arick’s Environmental Services and Arick’s Services, pleaded guilty this month to a charge of bribery concerning a federally funded program. He admitted to giving Taylor a $3,000 bribe for help getting on the bid list for a demolition job on Parkwood Drive, as well as a quick inspection. The city awarded Witherspoon the contract, worth $147,000.

Eric Heisig

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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