Defendant at the center of Cleveland, Ohio, water scandal convicted on all charges
WaterWebster.org Staff Report
October 8, 2008
Republish this story at no cost; to learn how, click here
Oscar Wells, the former Supervisor of Pipe Repair for the Cleveland Water Division, and the man prosecutors said was at the center of two bribery schemes, was found guilty Oct. 3 by a jury on all five counts of a federal bribery and money laundering indictment.
Wells' conviction was the final case in the four-year corruption prosecution of 13 former Cleveland Water Division employes and contractors. Three of those convicted, incuding Wells, still must be sentenced.
"This is the end," Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations spokesman Gary Rasoletti told WaterWebster.org.
Wells, 58, was indicted on three charges of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. A jury in the court of United States District Judge Solomon Oliver found him guilty on all counts.
A resident of Richmond Heights, Wells worked for the Water Division for more than 30 years before he retired about two years ago.
Two co-defendants, Jimmy Lee Gates, 50, the former Assistant Chief of Distribution of the Cleveland Water Division, and Liberator Noce, 66, owner of Noce Enterprises, Inc., pleaded guilty. Their sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 31.
The case was tried by Assistant United States Attorney Ann C. Rowland following investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the City of Cleveland Division of Police.
According to an IRS news release, Wells "was at the center of two bribery schemes." In the first, he demanded cash payments totaling approximately $35,000 to $40,000 from Noce in connection with Noce’s contracts to repair and replace fire hydrants for the Cleveland Water Division. The bribes were in exchange for Wells processing Noce’s invoices for payment, and in exchange for Wells giving Noce job orders under Noce’s contract with the water agency. In addition, Wells suggested that Noce inflate his invoices to the Cleveland Water Division to fund the bribe payments. The water agency paid Noce approximately $3.8 million during the period 2002 through 2004.
In the second scheme, Wells solicited and received two bribes in the amounts of $200 and $100 from a second hydrant contractor in 2004.
Gates, of Cleveland, the highest ranking Water Division official involved in the case, was an assistant chief who oversaw about 200 workers until he resigned. He had worked for the department for 26 years.
A list of the three City of Cleveland Water Division employes and seven Water Division contractors who previously were convicted:
|© 2011 WaterWebster.org All rights reserved. Acceptable Use Policy | Privacy Statement Policy|