Bribery was Robert Rybak’s way of doing business. Unfortunately, business is now closed. On January 20, Rybak, formerly business manager-financial secretary for Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 55, was sentenced in Cleveland federal court to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay full restitution for bribing several persons in the Cleveland area, including a county commissioner, with things of value in return for jobs for union and family members. He had pleaded guilty in October following a joint FBI-IRS-Labor Department investigation. The case was part of a much wider probe into corruption among county officials, employees and contractors.
Federal prosecutors had alleged that Rybak, 53, a resident of Independence, Ohio (just south of Cleveland), participated in a bribery scheme in which he provided free or discounted home improvements, meals, drinks, and political donations, with union labor or out of union funds, to various persons including Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. In return, he obtained county jobs for his daughter and two union members, plus a raise for his wife, who is an employee of the County Human Resources Department. In the end, Rybak pleaded guilty to bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice and witness-tampering charges. His union, Journeymen Plumbers Local 55, an affiliate of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, was not under investigation.