Friday, August 18, 2000

County auditor has bad name, thanks to three impersonators

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo has been getting an earful lately about his bad behavior. But Mr. Russo says it's three impostors — not he — who have been rude to many people.

        Authorities say three men have been bilking restaurants and demanding refunds in Mr. Russo's name from stores for stolen goods or items never purchased.

        “They are trying to ruin my character,” Mr. Russo said.

        Mr. Russo said Thursday that Cuyahoga County sheriff's deputies have questioned the three and that evidence is likely to be presented to a county grand jury.

        “The sheriff does not want to release who they are until there are charges, but the sheriff's detective bureau did a wonderful job,” he said.

        One of the three indignantly tells clerks he is Mr. Russo, that he has received shoddy service and demands a cash refund. The other two claim either to be his driver or a relative.

        “I've been in the book business 20 years and I've heard all the sob stories,” said Annie Holden, manager of Borders Books & Music in Cleveland Heights. “But the guy said he was Frank Russo. I thought, it's the county auditor, I'm not messing with him.”

        Ms. Holden is one of at least 10 clerks duped by the trio, said county sheriff's chief deputy, Daniel Pukach.


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