Lorain County Judge James Burge's Corruption Trial to Begin This Week


The public corruption trial of Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge begins on Thursday. He was indicted last fall on three third-degree felony counts of tampering with records, three fourth-degree felony counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, three misdemeanor counts of falsification and three misdemeanor counts of soliciting improper compensation.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is handling the case. 

“I was given the opportunity to retire and avoid prosecution, but I have committed no offense,” he said at the time of his indictment. “I’d rather do it this way.”

At the heart of the case is the property at 600 Broadway Ave. in Lorain. For several months in 2011, Burge is confirmed to have an ownership stake in the building, which housed and continues to house various attorneys' offices. Burge was presiding over cases that involved some of those attorneys, according to the criminal allegations.

The Chronicle-Telegram assembled a detailed history of the charges and the building at 600 Broadway, including this central series of events:

Burge and his wife, attorney Susan Burge, purchased 600 Broadway in 1985, but ownership transferred to the newly formed Whiteacre North Ltd. in 1997. At the time, the company was comprised of the Burges and fellow lawyers Sam Bradley and Michael Tully.

Bradley left the company in 2001, selling his share to Tully. The Burges and Tully reached a deal to sell the property to attorney Shimane Smith and his wife, Azuree Smith, in January 2007, just after Burge took office.

The deal called for the Smiths to pay off the remainder of the approximately $250,000 mortgage on the building and to pay the former owners of Whiteacre North $70,000 by January 2011.

But the Smiths defaulted on the payment, and control reverted to the Burges and Tully in February 2011.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.