Solon City Council announced Monday the city will sue an insurance company and bonding companies in hopes of reclaiming more than $2 million the city lost because of a contractor scheme.
The lawsuit, announced after a closed-door council session Monday, is the latest chapter in a corruption scandal involving Dominic Bisesi, a former city employee who between 2004 and 2007 steered paving contracts to certain companies that then overcharged the city.
An audit paid for by the city found Solon lost at least $2.3 million. Bisesi pleaded guilty, received a short jail sentence and probation and was forced to pay the city $84,000 in restitution. That's the amount Bisesi received in bribes.
Law Director Thomas Lobe said the lawsuit is being pursued against Selective Insurance and bonding companies because the city's insurance claim was rejected.
Councilman Rick Bell said that Lobe will review the evidence and the legal issues involved and decide what other parties the city should go after.
Mayor Susan Drucker said she too wants to go after the insurance company for repayment, but she emphasized that there are other liable parties that can be pursued.
She said there is a "strong possibility" the city will be bringing more lawsuits forward in the near future. She did not identify any parties.
"I feel it is my duty to go after that money any way possible I can," Drucker said. "I do want the public to be aware we will go after that money. It is my responsibility, it’s my duty to see to it that we collect as much of that money that was stolen from us as we possibily can.
"Being repayed $84,000 is an insult," she added. "If we can collect from insurance and bonding companies, great. If not, I will go further after other parties."
Solon officials became aware of problems with contracting after the city received compaints in 2007 about shoddy work on the resurfacing of Cochran Road.
Former Mayor Kevin Patton asked for an audit, which showed that Solon was overcharged by contractors Chaney Cement Contractors Inc., MGL Enterprises Inc. and Midwest Paving.
According to the Sun News, charges against the cement contractors, Mario Leone, 73, of Parma, and his two sons, Massimo, 39, and Marco Leone, 47, both of Independence, were dismissed by the county prosecutor’s office Oct. 11, although charges are expected to be refiled in some form. The original charges included engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, tampering with records, bribery, receiving stolen property, and money laundering.
Massimo and Marco Leone own Chaney Cement and Mario Leone is the president.
MGL Enterprises is owned by Massimo Leone.
Midwest Paving is owned by Joseph Bibbo, a contractor who has admitted to bribing Maple Heights School officials to receive contracts. Bibbo was not charged in the Solon case.
Solon has since improved its policies to prevent such a scam in the future, including creation of the construction division and ensuring that invoices and contracts are approved by more than one person.