Economic Crime Unit
The Economic Crime Unit includes litigators experienced in prosecuting complex cases of financial crime and government corruption. They work with local, state, and federal investigators to build their cases, and collect millions of dollars annually in restitution for victims.
In 2012 and 2013, the unit was able to recover more than $3 million on behalf of the citizens of Cuyahoga County.
What are economic crimes?
Economic crimes are financially motivated, typically non-violent crimes. Common economic crimes include check and credit card fraud, bribery, money laundering, identity theft, forgery and counterfeiting. A term often associated with economic crime is "white-collar crime," because it is often committed by someone whose status or profession provides them with exploitable opportunities.
Anyone can become a victim of economic crime. Even without an element of violence, economic crimes can devastate a person's livelihood, a family's stability or an organization's solvency. Whether a credit card thief is spending thousands of dollars of other peoples' money, a store clerk is committing food stamp fraud or a priest is using a church's coffers to pay for personal debts, the Prosecutor's Office is serious about charging these perpetrators, seeking restitution for victims and preventing future economic crimes.
Cleveland Firefighters Shift-Trading Case
In May 2013, thirteen Cleveland firefighters were indicted for theft in office, a felony, and soliciting or receiving improper compensation, a misdemeanor. This indictment was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by the Cleveland Division of Police, Internal Affairs Unit after a 2011 city audit found significant inconsistencies, poor record-keeping and a lack of oversight regarding benefits, payroll and time entries.
The firefighters indicted in this case paid coworkers to cover shifts, missing the equivalent of a full year or more of work between 2006 and 2010. While Cleveland firefighters are permitted to trade shifts with one another, these trades must be exchanged -- the firefighter who takes time off and has a coworker cover his or her shift must then cover a shift for that coworker within the year.
This shift-trading allowed firefighters to work secondary employment and to receive full pay and benefits as firefighters. One defendant, Calvin Robinson, was physically at work for fewer than 30 days between 2009 and 2011.
The firefighters in this case were missing important trainings, and those who received payment to pick up extra shifts could be working several back-to-back 24-hour shifts, putting the community at risk when they become tired.
By April 2014, all 14 firefighters had entered a plea of guilty to Complicity to Receiving Unlawful Compensation.
As a result of the audit, investigation and prosecution, the City of Cleveland amended its shift trade policy to prohibit further abuse.
The prosecution team assigned to this case assembled a report to summarize the findings of the city's audit, the risks of these shift-trading practices on fellow firefighters and the community, the legal issues surrounding the case and the measures taken by the city to prevent further abuse of shift-trading.
Prosecutor's Report on Firefighters' Shift-Trading Case
Media Releases on Shift-Trading Case