Jan 10, 2012

Corruption on the Cuyahoga

The Cuyahoga River runs through NE Ohio into downtown Cleveland emptying in Lake Erie.  Native Americans named the river "cuyahoga" because it was crooked — full of bends and turns — following a serpentine structure.

It was a fortuitous naming — "crooked" has been the theme for politics in the County called Cuyahoga. In 2008, the FBI and IRS raided the County administration offices, and homes of some of the employees, to begin the long process of exposing the corrupt network of favors that controlled business within the County. This corrupt network followed the basic rule of all closed networks: "you have to buy in, to get in."

The network map below shows most of the network (132 people) that has been the focus of the federal probe.  A person is included in the network if they have been charged with a crime, or have been listed on an indictment/information or search warrant as having been "tied" to a suspect.  The nodes in red have been "charged" with a crime, the nodes in gray have no charges (as of January 9, 2012), and the nodes in black have been involved, but have passed away since the investigation started.  The three key nodes in the case (and in terms of network metrics) are hi-lited in blue — Frank Russo, J. Kevin Kelley and Jimmy Dimora. They are the central hubs in the network. The first two have already pleaded guilty and will testify against Dimora in the upcoming trial.

Most of the charged individuals have either plead guilty or have been found guilty in a jury trial.  A few contractors have been absolved of their charges by local juries.  Jimmy Dimora plead "not guilty" and will now face a federal racketeering trial in Akron, Ohio.

Below is the network graph of the witnesses for the Dimora trial made public by the presiding judge Sarah Lioi, and also printed in the Plain Dealer.  Jimmy Dimora is being tried together with co-defendent Michael Gabor — both hi-lited in pink.  The five key witnesses in the trial are all hi-lited in green.  People are linked if they were mentioned as tied in an indictment/information or search warrant.  We see how the witnesses are connected to the defendant.

Next we will look at the core of this conspiracy — see the social graph below.  We see that the core is broken into 2 clusters, with the central connector being Frank Russo.  He received the highest social network metric scores for both Power and Structural Holes.

Russo is holding the two clusters together.  As this very central figure, will he get the longest prison sentence for his crimes? We are sure judges don't do social network analysis, before sentencing.  Our social network metrics "predict" that Russo will get the longest sentence, followed by Dimora and Kelley, in that order.  Of course both Kelley and Russo have been cooperating with the investigators, so their sentences may be significantly affected by that.  We'll see.

In addition to hundreds of pages of legal documents (network data extracted by researcher Silvija Krebs), I used information from the Cleveland Plain Dealer which has been reporting on this investigation since day one. We will update the charts as we get new information. Thank you all!

UPDATE (March 9, 2012): Dimora guilty on 33/34 counts — mostly for Hobbs Act (racketeering) violations!


hempster said...

Thank you for your informing and through work. Hope to learn how a truly good effort at assisting us to govern ourselves when put to fruition. We must insist that we are the boss of them and have them behave accordingly.

Jill Miller Zimon said...

Wow, Valdis. You read the same names over and over but the visual - well, you know, I'm a huge fan.

Valdis Krebs said...

Thanks to Vince Grzegorek at the Cleveland Scene for this nice article on our mapping efforts...