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Man pleads guilty in mail fraud case



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Petrasek has agreed to testify against a former city engineer.

WARREN -- Now that Gregory G. Petrasek has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, the stage is set for the former Ohio Edison manager to assist the government in its case against David J. Robison, who once served as the city's engineer.

Petrasek, 48, of Akron, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland to filing a fraudulent insurance claim. The charge was filed Jan. 4.

U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. set Petrasek's unsecured bond at $15,000 and sentencing for April 21.

Petrasek's Cleveland attorney, Richard Lillie, said Friday that he's hoping the sentence will be probation. The crime can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Petrasek resigned more than two years ago from Ohio Edison.

About the scheme

His 16-page plea agreement states that from June 30, 1999, to June 2002, he devised a scheme to defraud Erie Insurance Group, Westfield Companies, Avalon South Golf Club and OE and to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations.

At the time, the golf course was owned by Warren.

Petrasek's fraud was carried out with the help of Robison, the government said. Robison carried insurance with Westfield Companies; Petrasek with Erie Insurance Group.

Robison's golf clubs were stolen June 30, 1999, but Petrasek reported that his were also. They turned the thefts in to their insurance companies.

Robison ordered clubs worth $2,110 and Petrasek ordered clubs worth $2,469 from Avalon. The prices represented discounts of 20 to 25 percent, says Petrasek's plea agreement.

Erie paid Petrasek $4,384 and Westfield paid Robison $2,525.

When Avalon inquired about payment for the clubs, the golf course was given a $3,000 electric bill credit from Ohio Edison that Petrasek arranged. The golf course still had a balance due of $1,579 for the clubs.

Petrasek also arranged for a $640 OE credit to Robison's personal account.

Prosecution

The cases are being prosecuted by Matthew B. Kall and Ann C. Rowland, assistant U.S. attorneys.

Lillie said his client has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Robison. Petrasek's involvement in Robison's case is limited to the golf clubs, the lawyer said.

A grand jury indicted Robison, 52, of East Main Street, Cortland, on Jan. 18. He is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act (extortion), two violations of the Hobbs Act and 22 counts of mail fraud.

Aside from the golf clubs fraud, Robison is accused of taking bribes and kickbacks for construction projects from the early 1990s through mid-July 2000. The scheme ripped off the city for demolition work and housing rehabilitation, among other items.

The government said contractors and entities paid bribes to Robison, with the help of James Lapmardo, a former Warren building inspector. Lapmardo, 49, of Perkinswood Drive S.E., pleaded guilty in November 2004 and received a prison sentence of three years and five months.




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