Restitution to Crime Victims Diverted by Prosecutors to Pay Informants
Restitution payments made by defendants to the Clerk of Court in Cuyahoga County on behalf of crime victims have been instead diverted by the Prosecutor's Office and spent on "payments to informants or cooperating witnesses" or "for the costs of prosecution," according to recently obtained public records. Multiple criminal defendants have discovered that restitution payments they made in criminal cases were never forwarded to the victims of crime. Susan Alt, prosecuted by the Cuyahoga County Mortgage Fraud Task Force, has tried for years to obtain an accounting of funds she paid the courts but the victim never received. Defendant Linda Warner pled guilty and paid restitution but the alleged victim in her case never received those funds. Instead, Ms. Warner's $1,500 payment was diverted to "the Prosecutor's Office ... for the costs of the prosecution," according to a journal entry in her case, State of Ohio v. Linda Warner, Case No. 11-cr-551555. Uri Gofman made an $800,000 payment for restitution that was never credited to his restitution order in USA v. Gofman, Case No. 08-cr-506. "All I know," Gofman told one of our investigators, "is that I wrote the check and they cashed it."
A public records suit sought an accounting of funds made by Prosecutor Dan Kasaris to criminal defendant Kathryn Clover for her cooperation and testimony in multiple trials. Ms. Clover and Mr. Kasaris had a four year romantic relationship and Ms. Clover's resume indicates she was hired as an employee of the prosecutors office. Payments to Ms. Clover, by a so-called Furtherance of Justice Fund, were not disclosed to defendants before trial and are the subject of public records litigation in Viola v. Department of Justice, case no 15-cv-242, Western District of Pennsylvania. In July, 2017, Attorney Charles A. Hannon produced a "Memorandum of Understanding" between various government agencies that states "payments to informants" were made from funds recovered in mortgage fraud cases, but no accounting for these funds was forthcoming.
"The U.S. Attorney in Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office have been engaged in a 'prosecution for profit' scheme," said Tony Viola. "Banks are not victims of mortgage fraud and they have neither requested nor received any restitution collected on their behalf. Our efforts at exposing this diversion of funds from crime victims to the Prosecutor's Office will continue until all monies are accounted for."
Tony Viola proved his innocence at trial yet remains in jail!