Business Owner Going To Prison For Bribing City Employee

(Cleveland) - The owner of a Cleveland business will spend 15 months in federal prison, after pleading guilty to bribery in a federally-funded program.

Eric Witherspoon, 56, of Warrensville Heights, owned an asbestos removal and demolition business. According to court documents, Witherspoon submitted bids to the city of Cleveland in an attempt to get contracts for abatement and demolition work on behalf of the city.

Rufus Taylor, who has already pleaded guilty to receiving bribes, was Cleveland's Chief of the Demolition Bureau. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Witherspoon paid cash to Taylor, and in return, Taylor provided confidential information and advice about potential board-up and demolition jobs in Cleveland.

According to Court records, on the evening of February 9, 2017, the two men were recorded meeting in a parked vehicle to discuss their mutually beneficial relationship.

Taylor pleaded guilty to extortion and bribery about a month ago. He hasn't yet been sentenced.

“Public contracts should go to the most qualified, not the best connected,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Public officials, contractors, or anyone else who misuses or improperly handles public funds, can expect to find themselves in a similar position, that is to say, facing federal prison time.”

(Photo by Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

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