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Published: Tuesday, 8/31/2010

Vendor is given 2 year-term in Toledo Hospital theft case

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Attorney James Van Deilen, left, with his client, John Briggle, says Briggle is 'an honest guy that did some things, really stupid things.' Briggle apologized in court yesterday for his actions, saying he regretted his involvement. Attorney James Van Deilen, left, with his client, John Briggle, says Briggle is 'an honest guy that did some things, really stupid things.' Briggle apologized in court yesterday for his actions, saying he regretted his involvement.
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When John Briggle reports to prison Tuesday, he'll do so knowing he has to spend six years behind bars to make amends for stealing money from students and hospital patients, his attorney said Tuesday.

A onetime Toledo businessman convicted of defrauding one school district and accused of stealing from another, Briggle, 56, was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday to two years in prison for thefts from Toledo Hospital. The time will run consecutively with four years in prison Briggle will serve for convictions in Cuyahoga County.

"He's an honest guy that did some things, really stupid things," said James Van Deilen, who is representing Briggle. "When this case came to fruition and he finally realized that there were kids and patients who were being hurt, he wanted to do what he could to make it right."

Briggle pleaded no contest Aug. 17 to aggravated theft for his role in theft of $149,117.75 from Toledo Hospital over a two-year period. He and co-defendant Leonard Gorski were convicted of falsifying bills resulting in thefts from the hospital between May, 2002, and July, 2004.

Judge James Bates ordered that Briggle begin serving his time after completing his prison sentence for helping to defraud the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. He is scheduled to report to prison Sept. 7.

Tuesday, Briggle apologized in court for his actions, saying that he regretted his involvement.

"I'm deeply sorry about this whole experience," he said.

The sentence was the second resolution in three cases in which Briggle has been named a defendant.

Authorities said that each involved schemes in which Briggle's printing company, Superior Office Supplies, billed for thousands of dollars' worth of supplies and services that were never delivered.

In each case, Briggle conspired with someone and split the money, authorities said.

Although two cases are resolved, he remains charged with one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and six counts of tampering with records in an alleged scheme relating to Toledo Public Schools.

Briggle is set to go to trial in that case on Nov. 2.

Briggle is accused of scheming with former TPS business manager Daniel Burns, who was charged in a 25-count indictment, to defraud the school district of $687,694.75 between 2002 and 2006.

Burns is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges tomorrow in front of Judge Ruth Ann Franks.

Burns, 54, was sentenced last month in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to six years in prison after a jury found him guilty of defrauding Cleveland schools of nearly $155,000. Briggle, who testified at Burns' trial, entered into a plea agreement and was sentenced in early August to four years in prison.

Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Pittuch told Judge Bates that Briggle had been cooperating with authorities in each of the individual investigations. He added that Briggle had been a key witness in the Cuyahoga County trial against Burns and that he has agreed to testify in Burns' Lucas County trial as well.

As part of the plea agreement in the case involving Toledo Hospital, the prosecutor's office recommended that prison time run concurrently with the time imposed in the Cleveland case. Judge Bates ordered that the time run consecutively.

"I know you cooperated in Cuyahoga County and I know you have made statements here, but I don't think any of this was remotely possible without your brains," the judge said.

Briggle left after the sentencing without comment.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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