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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2010

Former aide: Burns confirmed delivery of supplies prosecutors say didn't exist


CLEVELAND - A woman who worked for former Cleveland schools Chief Operating Officer Daniel Burns says he personally confirmed delivery of printing equipment prosecutors say never existed.

Shenee McCoy-Gibbons, Mr. Burns' former administrative assistant, testified against him yesterday during his trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. He is charged with stealing nearly $155,000 from the district through phony purchases.

Lucas County prosecutors are investigating whether he and another man used a similar scheme to steal $660,000 from Toledo Public Schools when he worked for that district.

Ms. McCoy-Gibbons said she typically received invoices in the mail or from delivery personnel, but Mr. Burns handed her one for a $49,500 purchase of two duplicating machines in 2007. He also told her the machines were in and to begin processing payment, according to Ms. McCoy-Gibbons, instructions she said she had no reason to question.

The prosecution rested yesterday, and the defense began presenting its case. Mr. Burns' lawyer, John McCaffrey, has portrayed him as the victim of a trusted supplier.

Mr. Burns is charged with racketeering, theft in office, and tampering with records and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted. John Briggle, owner of Superior Offset Supplies in Toledo, pleaded guilty and testified against him. Briggle will be sentenced July 7. On Thursday, he cast Mr. Burns as author and mastermind of the plot to steal $155,000 from the Cleveland schools.

Briggle also said he is cooperating with prosecutors to clear his conscience, not to get leniency. Briggle, 56, faced an all-out assault on his character from Mr. McCaffrey, who portrayed him as a high-living double-talker and noted that Briggle has been indicted in a similar case involving Toledo Hospital.

Mr. Burns, 54, resigned in January, 2009, after 2 1/2 years in the Cleveland job.

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