I-TEAM: Secret recording sheds light on county corruption investigation

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CLEVELAND — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has obtained a recording that the top man in Cuyahoga County government never expected you to hear. It gives us a glimpse of what he’s saying behind closed doors about the corruption investigation.

We’ve learned County Executive Armond Budish is going around meeting with groups of county employees. A witness recorded one session.

Budish is heard in the audio recording telling workers at the Department of Senior and Adult Services, “A few days ago my office was raided, and my computer and telephone were taken. But, I believe that was totally uncalled for and truly a publicity stunt. I personally have done nothing wrong.”

Weeks ago, the I-TEAM revealed that state and federal agents raided Cuyahoga County government headquarters. They seized computer records and more as part of an ongoing investigation, which began a while ago looking at I-T contracts, and has now grown to look at jail operations and more.

On the recording we obtained, you hear Budish telling workers to focus on their jobs. Though they also asked questions including wondering why Budish felt it necessary to speak about what’s going on?

He told the group, “You’ll get stopped on the street and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ People get one side of the story in the newspaper. It’s important that all of us not be distracted by this.”

The county executive told workers he’s not sure what agents want to find.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is overseeing the investigation.

We reached out to the Attorney General’s office as we put together this story, and spokesperson Dave O’Neil said, “We have no further comment on the ongoing criminal investigation.”

Over a couple of days, the I-TEAM sent emails requesting an interview with the county executive. Although he’s talking to county employees he has not agreed to talk to FOX 8.

On the recording Budish complained about reporters showing up during the raid.

Now, everyone is watching for the fallout.

The audio shows Budish met with workers about 15 minutes to speak and answer questions. We’ve learned Budish is holding similar meetings with as many county employee groups as he can.

Continuing coverage, here.

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