Former City of Cleveland Demolition Bureau Chief Sentenced to 21 Months for Bribery and Extortion

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that Rufus Taylor, 62, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Christopher A. Boyko to 21 months imprisonment, one year of supervised release and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.  Taylor, the former head of the city of Cleveland’s Demolition Department, pleaded guilty to bribery in federally funded programs and extortion under color of official right in September of 2018.

According to court documents, from 2012 through 2017, Taylor was employed by the City of Cleveland as Chief of the Demolition Bureau.  Among other duties, Taylor was responsible for assigning “board-up” of vacant properties to contractors, emergency demolition jobs and conducting inspections, which had to take place before a contractor could receive payment.

From November of 2013 through September of 2017, court documents state that Taylor received and solicited cash bribes from Contractor 1 and Contractor 2 in exchange for preferential treatment and advantageous information on city of Cleveland demolition projects. 

On or about November 2, 2013, through September 1, 2017, Taylor received cash payments from Contractor 1 in return for assistance placing Contractor 1 on the city of Cleveland bid list for a demolition job.  Taylor also sought payment from Contractor 1 in return for notification of an emergency demolition job.  At various other times between November 2013 and November 2015, Contractor 1 provided Taylor with cash payments.

Additionally, from August of 2015 through July of 2016, Taylor received cash payments from Contractor 2 in return for a list of companies bidding on a demolition job, information concerning the then-current lowest bids for the job and a list of bid numbers for another pending demolition job. 

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Elliot Morrison.

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