A former Cuyahoga County probation officer has been sentenced to a year in jail for soliciting bribes in exchange for special treatment from probationers, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said.
According to officials, 46-year-old Michael B. Williams, of Bedford, solicited $750 from a probationer who was under his supervision on May 15, 2015. Williams offered early released from probation in exchange for a portion of the money.
Sheriff’s detectives recorded a meeting at a local restaurant that same day, where the probationer – who had contacted detectives and agreed to help with the investigation – gave Williams marked bills provided by authorities. Detectives found Williams still in possession of the marked bills.
Interviews with Williams and examination of his case load revealed that corruption involving eight other individuals on probation.
Officials learned that Williams – in at least one instance – took cash from a probationer to falsify a report to the court, indicating the probationer worked all of his required community service when the individual had worked no hours.
Williams resigned from the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Probation Department on June 30, 2015.
“People who go through the Criminal Justice System work hard to satisfy the terms of their probation,” said Matthew Meyer, chief of the Public Corruption Unit in the Prosecutor’s Office, who also represented the State of Ohio in this case. “When a probation officer abuses his position of power to shake these people down for money, the entire system is diminished.”
Prosecutors said as part of Williams’ plea deal, he acknowledged accepting $1,530 and 15 sandwiches to suspend drug tests and falsify probation reports.
Visiting Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Reinbold sentenced Williams to a year in the Lorain County Jail.