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Attorneys Demand Records Of Arco Dump Operator In Land Bank Bribery Case

Attorneys for an indicted Cuyahoga Land Bank employee say federal prosecutors’ case against their client is based on evidence obtained from a man with a record of financial crimes who ran an illegal East Cleveland dump.

Lawyers for former land bank property specialist Kenneth Tyson also claimed in a Wednesday federal court filing that prosecutors failed to turn over their full collection of records on George Michael Riley Sr.

A federal grand jury indicted Tyson in November 2018. He is accused of accepting bribes in the form of work on his property from a man identified as “M.R.” in exchange for help securing demolition work for M.R.’s company, RCI Services.

Riley operated Arco Recycling, RCI Services and other demolition companies that did business with the land bank from 2013 to 2017, according to business and land bank records.

In 2015, Tyson left his role as a property specialist to run CLB Services, an environmental services company founded by the land bank. Tyson has pleaded not guilty and prosecutors have not announced any charges against Riley in the case.

“Based on our review, it is clear that the Government’s case depends entirely upon the uncorroborated accusations of the lead cooperator, Mike Riley, who, as your office likely knows, has multiple aliases and legal names, some of which include George Michael Riley, Sr. and Anthony Michael Castello,” attorney Chris N. Georgalis wrote in a May letter to prosecutors that was entered into the court docket Wednesday.

Georgalis demanded in the court filing that prosecutors turn over any business, tax or banking records belonging to Riley or his businesses. The prosecution has turned over only a small fraction of phone records believed to belong to M.R., Georgalis wrote in this week’s filing. He also requested land bank records and any other financial documents belonging to possible cooperating witnesses.

Riley ran three companies – including RCI Services – that received federal money from the land bank to demolish vacant homes in Northeast Ohio, taking debris from many jobs to Arco Recycling, an ideastream investigation found.

The Ohio EPA shut Arco down in 2017, and the state attorney general’s office sued Riley and his former business partner over the $9.1 million cleanup.

Riley served time in Ohio state prison in after pleading guilty to financial crimes in state and federal courts more than a decade ago. In 2018, Riley changed his name to Anthony Michael Castello. He eventually opened businesses in Steubenville, according to business and court records.

Staff who answered the phones on Thursday at numbers listed for both businesses, Appliance Depot and the Deli on Fourth Street, said that Riley no longer works there and that the companies are under new management.

ideastream attempted to reach Riley on Thursday at multiple phone numbers. The man who answered one number replied, “What can I do for you?” when asked if he was Mike Riley. When asked about the filing in the Tyson case, the man replied, “What are you talking about?” and said ideastream had the wrong number.

Georgalis declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio also declined to comment.

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