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Ethics of Bribery Cases in Cuyahoga County Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2022

The county has hit the headlines recently because of uncontrolled misuse of public funds among officials to an extent that an audit was ordered to establish the real culprits, the strategies used, and the number of resources misappropriated. The federal agents were given a go-ahead to raid the homes and the offices of top county officials, as well as contractors who had been awarded contracts erroneously. Currently, over thirty-six officials and private contractors have been charged with bribery crimes, all of them pleading guilty to the accusations. Several cases of corruption and subsequent court proceedings have been reported in the media. In one incident, it is reported that Frank Russo was offered home improvement while he was expected to give out jobs and tax breaks. The relatives of contractors were employed in the county without necessarily possessing the needed documents, which means that the principle of meritocracy interfered as expected in American society. Because of this, he was charged with two counts of corruption. In 2006, the official was accused of receiving unspecified work from Salva and Valentin while he was supposed to play a role in hiring Valentin’s friend. In a different case, Kevin Kelley was accused of misusing his powers to acquire financial benefits and gifts while he was to give out a contract to renovate and develop the Parma school (Fisman & Miguel, 2008). Damir Blecic, who was a former Cuyahoga County auditor, was charged with giving inaccurate information to the FBI as regards the corruption case.

The bribery issues in the county raise several ethical questions. It is difficult to understand how a classroom became a hunting lodge, especially in regards to the Maple Heights Schemes. Russo was never concerned with meeting the expectations of the county, but instead, he embarked on a program aimed at realizing his interests. For him to receive the gifts, he had to give jobs without considering meritocracy. In a different case, he was blamed for misappropriating public resources to help his son in business meaning that he traded the printing business for his political mileage. By not running for the Parma mayorship position, Kelly was rewarded with $15000 while he participated in awarding the Alternatives Agency a contract worth $250,000. All major companies and personalities that traded with the county relied on favors to win contracts meaning that they never had adequate qualifications that would land them these contracts. This behavior contravenes business ethics, as substandard products and services are delivered to the public. Before rewarding a contract, it is prudent to take the contractor through a rigorous evaluation process to ensure that only the best companies succeed. For example, Broma firm relied on its connections with the county’s leadership to win a computer mapping project. In a different case, the court was told that envelopes full of cash cemented VAS’s $21 million evaluation business (Markham, 2006). The leaders were so indifferent to the sufferings of the population because they could even approve unhealthy bills only to achieve their financial goals and objectives. For instance, a proposal introducing a ticket for smoking in the restaurant was kicked out after big money changed hands. Again, private organizations used the county officials to interfere with the financial laws, with Steven Pumper seeking help from the officials to change the terms of the county loan.

As Cross and Miller (2012) observe, an organization has to observe several aspects of ethics. Cuyahoga County officials should have observed business ethics and ensured that no contractor is allowed to supply goods and services without providing a report from the bureau of standards department. Human beings have several complications related to health and the main function of any leadership is to guarantee the safety of people. For instance, food products should not be contaminated and building materials supplied to the schools in the county ought to be durable and cost-effective. If the contractor breaches the law, the county officials should take him or her to the necessary governmental agency for proper action. Ethical reasoning is another principle that the county officials should have adopted meaning that any deal aimed at squandering public funds should be done away with and those insisting on favors should be prosecuted. Even though the prices of services offered in the county might go up because of other global factors, the officials should not have considered increasing the costs of important services, such as healthcare only to fill their stomachs. Ethical conduct is a principle that all public officials should consider applying when dealing with the members of the public. This means that various professionals in the organization have to observe some of the ethical codes set out in their professions. For instance, the auditor should not have given false testimony against country officials. The policy of the county dictates that all officials under its payroll should be sincere in what they do. Honesty is an important ethical principle that leaders in the country should have taken into consideration if they wanted to be successful and keep off from court cases that ensued. The population in the county trusted these leaders with their votes and it was upon the governor to ensure that this trust is maintained through honesty (Watson, 2003). A scenario where a county leader gives out favors in return for gifts is regrettable because any civil servant has to be imbued to service delivery. County officials were known for parody, overstating the problem, issuing partial truths, selective omission of facts and this made it difficult for them to supply relevant information whenever called upon to do so.

Another ethical principle that the officials never took seriously was integrity, especially personal one since studies show that an official earns trust through individual integrity. This principle calls for an individual to demonstrate consistency as far as thoughts, wording, and actions are concerned. However, any official intending to acquire this principle has to be courageous implying that he or she should have an inner strength that will enable him or her to do the perfect thing. The principle of loyalty and keeping promises was never observed among the county officials. All top executives in an organization have to ensure that they meet and exceed the expectations of all stakeholders, but Cuyahoga County officials were never keen on observing this aspect, something that brought them down and spoilt the careers of others. They were expected to be loyal to the people who gave them the job, but they turned against the public and started serving the interests of the rich organizations that were ready to provide them with kickbacks.


Cross, F.B., & Miller, R. L. (2012). The legal environment of business: Text and cases: ethical, regulatory, global, and corporate issues. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Fisman, R., & Miguel, E. (2008). Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Markham, J. W. (2006). A financial history of Modern US Corporate Scandals. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Watson, T.J (2003). Ethical Choice in Managerial Work: The Scope for Managerial Choices in an Ethically Irrational World. Human Relations, 56(2), 167–185.

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