Frank Russo took to the stand yesterday to testify in the Fed's case against former Cuyahoga County Judge Bridget McCafferty as he looks to shed some time on his sentence on a variety of corruption and bribery charges. He's agreed to cooperate with the Feds as part of his plea deal.
During his three hours on the stand, Russo said he would call McCafferty about four times a year, and though he never blatantly said he wanted her to fix cases, the meaning of his calls was well understood. ""I didn't directly say 'Judge you must fix these cases' or say 'Judge you need to do this'," Russo said. "I would say, 'Bridget can you look out for this particular person'."
There weren't a tremendous amount of new revelations, but there were some snippets we loved. For instance:
— The Feds had a dedicated room at the FBI's Cleveland office where the listened to over 44,000 wiretapped conversations live 24/7. It was called "The Wire Room." Sexy and original.
— McCafferty's bailiff said he knew she was nervous about the FBI's county corruption investigation because he saw her smoking. Flavor country, baby.
— A juror was seen giving a thumbs up sign to the prosecution while leaving the courtroom Tuesday. Accounts indicate, however, the juror had simply tripped and given the thumbs-up signal that they were OK, not that the FBI was totally super awesome and going to definitely win.
— Russo explained how great snitching feels. "When I got into office in 1973 as a councilman in Mayfield Heights I walked in with my head up as a person who wanted to help out. 38 years later I walked out, my head down with a frown, ashamed of what I had done. I wound up being a horrible person in public office. I was wrong in what I did and wrong because I wasn't cooperating," he said. "I can look myself in the mirror and not be completely ashamed. I am not afraid to look taxpayers in the eyes because I can say I am helping and not hindering as I have for the last 10 years."