Pat Coyne Gets Nearly 5 Years in Prison

Prosecutor says former councilman had a pattern of corrupt activity

Former Councilman Pat Coyne has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for bribery and fraud.

With his wife, son, daughter and other relatives in the courtroom, Coyne, 53, apologized for his actions in a shaky, emotion-filled voice during his sentencing this morning before U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan.

"I apologize to the court, my wife and three children. I am truly remorseful for my actions," he said in a low voice.

Coyne was taken into custody immediately following sentencing and led from the courtroom in handcuffs.

Gaughan said Coyne had faced 24 to 30 months in prison for , but that term more than doubled because he ran a  while he was under investigation for bribery as part of the ongoing  Cuyahoga County corruption probe.

Earlier this year, Coyne convinced an elderly friend to give him $32,000 by telling him he was investing in a Krispy Kreme franchise.

"It's just incredible  . . . that while cooperating with the government you concocted a scheme to take money," Gaughan said. "I find that behavior brazen and, frankly, arrogant and cannot be viewed as just one bad decision."

Coyne's attorney, Craig Weintraub, presented letters from colleagues and friends saying Coyne was a good person who had made mistakes. 

But Prosecutor Nancy Kelley said the investigation into Coyne revealed he has actually been accused twice before of running frauds.

She said in 2003, Coyne also attempted a Krispy Kreme doughnut scam. And he also once told friends his wife had cancer and asked them to give him $25,000 so he could hire a malpractice lawyer.

Coyne pleaded guilty in June to five counts related to taking bribes and running a fraud.

He admitted that as a councilman, he accepted $20,000 in bribes from developer David Terry for favorable reviews of Terry's future projects in Strongsville.

And between March and May of this year, Coyne bilked Philip Sustersic, 84, of Strongsville out of $32,000, claiming he was investing in a Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise in Brunswick. Coyne actually did not represent Krispy Kreme.

He resigned his at-large council seat May 6, three days before he was arrested on suspicion of bribery.

At today's sentencing, Sustersic's step-daughter, Autumn Taylor, testified she found out about the Krispy Kreme scam while speaking to one of her step-father's creditors. She said Coyne had urged Sustersic not to tell anyone about the deal.

She said her step-father, who had just admitted his wife into a nursing home, made the investment to provide for the future of his disabled daughter.

Taylor said Coyne avoided her phone calls and failed to show up for meetings, but finally dropped off promissory notes and mortgage deeds, denying any knowledge of a Krispy Kreme and instead saying the $32,000 was a loan.

Gaughan also fined Coyne $20,000 to be paid to Strongsville for accepting bribes from a developer.

Sentencing had been set for Sept. 7, but it was postponed because Coyne was taken to the hospital the night before. A note from his doctor attached to court records said Coyne suffered from serious hypertension and had fallen and hit his head.


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