Warrensville Heights contractor sentenced to 15 months in prison for bribing Cleveland official

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A contractor from Warrensville Heights was sentenced to 15 months in prison Tuesday for bribing a Cleveland official.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko also ordered Eric Witherspoon, 56, of Arick’s Environmental Services and Arick’s Services, to pay a $5,000 fine for bribing Rufus Taylor, the former chief of the city demolition bureau.

Witherspoon pleaded guilty to charges in September 2019 involving the payment of $3,000 in cash to Taylor for helping the contractor get on a bid list for a demolition job on Parkwood Drive in Cleveland.

That enabled Witherspoon to win a roughly $147,000 contract and a quick inspection, according to court records.

Federal prosecutors said Witherspoon paid Taylor “for non-public information about an upcoming demolition job with the city and for Taylor to use his official position to ensure that [Witherspoon] would have the opportunity to bid on that job.”

Witherspoon is the second contractor to be sentenced in the case.

Martin Fano, the former owner of ABC Construction, pleaded guilty in June 2019 to bribery-related charges involving Taylor. Fano paid $460 to Taylor to finalize paperwork more quickly and provide Fano with the necessary signed permits. Boyko fined $4,000 and placed him on probation for a year in September 2019.

Taylor worked for the city for 30 years and retired in 2018. He pleaded guilty in September 2018 to charges of extortion and bribery in a federally funded program. He admitted to taking thousands of dollars in bribes from two contractors and gave them preferential treatment for government-funded demolition and abatement projects.

The judge set his sentencing hearing for November.

Witherspoon’s attorney, Andrea Whitaker, said Taylor sought out Witherspoon.

“Based on all of the facts that we now know, it is apparent that Taylor was a rogue city official who was perhaps in need

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Foreign Hacker Sentenced in $1M Scam Targeting Federal Employees and Contractors

A foreign national charged with setting up fake government websites, hacking federal employees’ emails and defrauding agency contractors of almost $1 million has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison.

According to federal investigators, Olumide Ogunremi, 43, a citizen of Nigeria who also goes by the name Tony Williams, was part of a criminal ring that used phishing emails and counterfeit websites to trick federal employees into giving up their digital credentials, which were then used to buy goods to sell on the black market.

In the latter half of 2013, Ogunremi and his co-conspirators sent phishing emails to employees at several federal agencies directing them to fake websites, “including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” according to a Justice Department release.

“Unwitting employees of the agencies visited the fake web pages and provided their email account usernames and passwords,” Justice officials said.

The group then used those valid credentials to place orders—mostly for printer toner cartridges—with vendors contracted through the General Services Administration. The commercial goods were then shipped to scammers’ addresses in New Jersey before being repackaged and sent to Nigeria to be sold through underground markets.

The scheme netted almost $1 million in stolen office products before being shut down, according to prosecutors.

Inspectors general from several agencies contributed to the investigation, including EPA, GSA and the Commerce Department, as well as investigators with the Defense Department’s Cyber Field Office and the FBI.

Ogunremi was originally set to plead guilty to the wire fraud charges in March 2018 but fled to Canada prior to a court appearance. He was extradited from Canada and returned to the U.S. in September 2019 to stand trial.

Last week, Ogunremi was ordered to pay $68,618 in restitution and sentenced to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of

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