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Published: Thursday, 7/20/2006

Broker in BWC case stays free on bond

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lewis, left. Lewis, left.
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A federal judge ruled yesterday that Michael Lewis, a Cleveland-area investment broker, can remain free on bond even though he contacted the former high-ranking Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation official he is accused of bribing.

In a motion filed last week, prosecutors said Mr. Lewis attempted to intimidate Terrence Gasper, the bureau's former chief financial officer, by mailing him a card informing him a Roman Catholic Mass would be held in his honor.

Gasper is cooperating with investigators after pleading guilty to charges he doled out the bureau's investment business to money managers who gave him money and gifts - including the use of a condo in the Florida Keys allegedly provided by Mr. Lewis and fellow broker, Daniel O'Neil.

Mr. Lewis and Mr. O'Neil, who have pleaded not guilty to bribery charges, are free on bond as they await trial.

Prosecutors wanted Mr. Lewis' bond revoked after he contacted Gasper, saying he breached the conditions of his bond.

Judge David Dowd, Jr., addressed the issue of the Mass card yesterday, saying, "It's hard for me to view it as anything other than, 'We know where you live. We're thinking about you and you better be worried.'‚óŹ "

Although the judge said he was "appalled" that Mr. Lewis sent the postcard, he allowed him to stay free on bond and forbid him from contacting other potential witnesses in his case.

Mr. Lewis and his attorneys said the card was not meant as a threat to Gasper, a friend for more than 30 years, and that Mr. Lewis often sends Mass cards to friends and family.

Prosecutors say Mr. Lewis and Mr. O'Neil profited by at least $2.5 million from their alleged bribery scheme.

The judge yesterday moved the trial date back to Sept. 25.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Steve Eder at:

seder@theblade.com

or 419-724-6272.



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