Saturday, August 30, 2003

Lawyer accused in drug-ring probe

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - The director of a nonprofit program designed to move people off welfare and into work was arrested Friday on charges he ran a drug ring from his office.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said David Roth, a well-known lawyer and executive director of Cleveland Works Inc., was indicted on 29 felony counts, including drug trafficking.

Other charges include engaging in a pattern of corruption, conspiracy to commit aggravated drug trafficking, drug possession and theft by deception. If convicted, he faces up to 81 years in prison.

Mason said Roth and Cleveland Works employees Michael Periandri Sr. and Michael Periandri Jr. used money from the program to buy drugs such as morphine, cocaine and heroin and sold them out of the downtown office and their homes.

The Periandris also were inducted on drug charges. All three remained in the Cuyahoga County Jail on Friday and were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Mason said the trio was selling drugs to program enrollees, including drug offenders sent there as part of their probation.

"The very sad irony of it is, you've got courts all over the region who are referring people who come off of probation to Cleveland Works," Mason said.

The Cleveland Works building was raided Friday during a graduation ceremony for program participants. Roth was arrested at his Cleveland Heights home.

Calls placed to the Cleveland Works office went unanswered and messages could not be left for Roth. There were no home telephone listings for Roth or the Periandris.

Roth is well-known in the city where he started the Cleveland Free Clinic in 1970. Since 1996, he's run Cleveland Works, which has a staff of 30 and an annual budget of $2.4 million.

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