CLEVELAND Saadey bribery trial to resume

The defendant said his offer to take a lie-detector test was turned down.
CLEVELAND -- Russell J. "Champ" Saadey Jr. says he passed a polygraph test and offered to take one for federal prosecutors who have him on trial in a judicial bribery case.
Saadey said prosecutors turned down his offer, which included a willingness to plead guilty to racketeering if he failed a lie-detector test administered by the polygraph expert of their choice. The 46-year-old Austintown man told The Vindicator that he had no choice but to go to trial and face his accusers.
Thomas J. Gruscinski, an assistant U.S. attorney, could not be reached to comment. Historically the government has used polygraph tests from time to time but has not been willing to rely on such tests when deciding whether to prosecute.
Case-fixing charges: Trial was to resume today in U.S. District Court for Saadey and his cousin, James A. Vitullo, 45, of North Jackson. The men are accused of taking part in a case-fixing enterprise that included ex-Mahoning County Prosecutor James A. Philomena, several judges and defense attorneys.
The charges span 1992 through 1996 when Vitullo served as an assistant county prosecutor in Austintown. Saadey had been a prosecutor's investigator under Philomena.
Last week, Saadey's lead attorney, David J. Betras of Youngstown, attempted to introduce evidence through witness testimony that he believed would demonstrate malice on behalf of one FBI agent in particular. Betras was prevented from delving too far into the subject by U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. O'Malley.
Bernard C. Walter Jr. of Boardman somewhat illustrated the point Betras tried to make. Walter testified that, to reduce his fourth DUI charge in 1996, he gave $6,000 to a friend who said he could make it disappear.
Walter said the FBI repeatedly asked him about Saadey.
"I said, 'I don't know the man, never met him' and they kept bringing it up as if I was lying." Walter testified.
Not all government witnesses called to testify last week were able to link Vitullo and Saadey to the bribes.
No connection: Some witnesses who said they paid to have their DUI cases fixed through then-attorney Jack V. Campbell, for example, had no contact with Saadey. The witnesses also acknowledged that they didn't see Campbell give Vitullo the bribe.
Campbell testified that he did pay Vitullo and that Saadey steered clients his way who could afford to pay big fees and Saadey also collected cash himself.
Campbell's binding plea agreement requires him to testify for the government.
The Vitullo-Saadey defense team contends their clients were implicated by corrupt lawyers who supplied the FBI with bogus information to receive reduced sentences.
This week's witness lineup is expected to include Philomena, now serving time in a federal prison; and Fred H. Bailey, a retired county judge who pleaded guilty to taking bribes.
Lawyers who admitted they bribed Philomena, Vitullo and Bailey are also among the prosecution's list of witnesses. The lawyers include Stuart J. Banks and Lawrence J. Seidita.
The trial is expected to finish next week. It's not clear if either Vitullo or Saadey will take the stand in their defense.