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Former head of Cleveland's Demolition Bureau charged with bribery

Former head of Cleveland's Demolition Bureau charged with bribery
Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 16:00:34-04

The former head of Cleveland's Demolition Bureau has been charged in a federal corruption probe that alleges he solicited and accepted bribes from various contractors for preferential treatment.

Rufus Taylor, 60, was charged with bribery and extortion.

During Taylor's tenure as department chief, he was responsible for handing out assignments to contractors to board up vacant properties. He also handled emergency demolition jobs and conducted inspections before each contractor received compensation for the job, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A city official confirmed that Taylor retired in January 2018 after 30 years with the City of Cleveland. According to city records, Taylor was hired as the Bureau Manager of Demolition in 1987, and his annual salary as of this year was $69,788.58.

In December of 2013, Taylor allegedly arranged a deal to receive $8,000 in exchange for placing a contractor on a bid list for a demolition job on Parkwood Drive. The contractor paid Taylor $3,000 on Dec. 4, 2013, and an additional $5,000 by November 2015, attorneys said.

In October of 2015, Taylor asked the same contractor for $12,000 in exchange for information about an emergency demolition job. The contractor was awarded the job but never paid Taylor, attorneys said.

Another incident involved a second contractor who Taylor allegedly received $5,000 from in October 2015 in exchange for information relating to a demolition job on Cedar Avenue that took place earlier in the year.

Taylor allegedly called the second contractor on May 7, 2016, to pass on a tip about a bid for a job on East 130th Street. Three days later, on the final day of bidding, Taylor called the contractor again to inform the person of the lowest current bid on the project.

In July 2016, Taylor received around $500 in cash from the same contractor. A few days later, Taylor allegedly called the contractor back and said he needed some "stacks," for which he received another $300, attorneys said.

“Public contracts should go to the most qualified bidder, not the best connected. We will remain vigilant and public employees who take bribes will be brought to justice,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said.