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Published: Saturday, 2/18/2006

McCloskey seeks legal relief to face 1 bribery case at a time

Attorneys representing indicted Toledo Councilman Robert McCloskey and the city of Toledo filed a request yesterday in federal court to put on hold a $10 million civil lawsuit while a criminal case against him goes forward in state court.

The petitions were filed in U.S. District Court.

Michigan developer EJS Properties LLC sued in May, 2004, claiming Mr. McCloskey demanded a $100,000 "extraction payment" in connection with a rezoning application the company had filed.

On Feb. 10, a Lucas County grand jury indicted the longtime Democratic councilman on two counts of bribery over the same incident.

A trial in the federal civil case had been scheduled for Aug. 28.

Matthew Harper, attorney for EJS Properties, said a decision hasn't been made whether to oppose the stay.

Both cases accuse Mr. McCloskey, who was then the district councilman for East Toledo, of seeking $100,000 for a prescription drug fund for retirees of Pilkington, his former employer, in exchange for his backing of a rezoning application for property at 1701 East Broadway in 2002.

Pilkington intended to sell the property to EJS, of Okemos, Mich., to lease to a charter school.

Mr. McCloskey's attorney, Jay Feldstein, argued in his motion that Mr. McCloskey would be forced to defend himself in two courts simultaneously if the civil case is not stayed.

A stay would allow Mr. McCloskey to "focus on the criminal proceedings first and avoid the necessity of double preparation in connection with this case," Mr. Feldstein said.

The city is paying Mr. Feldstein's expenses in connection with the civil suit, and has appropriated $90,000 so far.

Mr. McCloskey has to pay his own legal expenses for the criminal case.

In addition, Mr. Feldstein said, once the criminal case is resolved, Mr. McCloskey would be free to testify in the civil case without fear of incriminating himself.

Mr. McCloskey declined to answer several questions in depositions in 2004, citing his right under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

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