The Brothel of Bedford: The Prostitution Bust and the Corrupt Officials Who Went Down with It

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But he's corrupt. Given enough time and the willpower to cross-reference subpoenas with old court records and interviews, you'll find a distinct pattern of Judge Jacob giving favorable treatment to prostitutes from Studio 54 who happened upon his courtroom.

Prosecutors, for instance, were curious about a case file involving a 32-year-old woman named Lisa Goforth. Online court records show she was arrested by the Orange Police Department in October 2012; Judge Jacob got her case and and she ended up pleading guilty to disorderly conduct that December. Here's why investigators want those records:

Lisa Goforth was a Studio 54 girl who also allegedly prostituted on a freelance basis. On Oct. 1, 2012, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office busted her for solicitation at a Homestead Studio Suites hotel: "Lisa Marie Goforth solicited sex for cash over the phone and during the conversation a meeting was set up. Goforth arrived at the location and time predetermined." (She was back advertising her services four days after her arrest, incidentally.)

Because Goforth's solicitation arrest was a misdemeanor and the Bedford court has jurisdiction over those arrests in nearby towns like Orange, Judge Jacob took the case. Lucky for Goforth, the judge was a Studio 54 client, and he amended her case to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, to which she pleaded no contest. Her 30-day jail sentence was suspended (see her arrest reports and pages from her case here).

Last June, Goforth was arrested again at a Westlake Red Roof Inn along with a 24-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man. County court records say, "On June 19, 2013, Westlake P.D. officers worked jointly with the FBI to investigate prostitution-related complaints in the Western Suburbs. Kuchta, Gearhart and Goforth were all arrested for prostitution-related offenses."

Goforth was charged with possessing criminal tools and prostitution. A month after the arrest -- and two months before the raid of the Walsh building in Bedford -- Cuyahoga County prosecutors dropped the charges against the two women. The office would have been into the investigation at that point, and likely would have been aware of Goforth's involvement in Bedford. (Three months after the raid, Goforth was arrested in Maple Heights for grand theft and is currently in jail.)

And then there's the connection between Judge Jacob and Gina Jaworski, another Studio 54 employee. Though Jacob has since deleted his Facebook account, he was friends with Jaworski, which doesn't mean much in a vacuum. But a source spotted Jacob driving an intoxicated Jaworski home one night. (His luxury sports car is hard to miss, and the same car was parked in his spot at the municipal court the next day.)

County prosecutors obviously notice a trend too: The dates of his accused felony bribery with sex and various other charges match the dates he presided over Jaworski's case in his courtroom stemming from a 2010 traffic ticket and subsequent contempt of court charges, the latter of which was a case he took over and dismissed (see those files here).

April 20, 2012, is a focal point in the Jacob saga and his handling of the Jaworski case. On that day, prosecutors accused him of three felonies and a misdemeanor relating to what he did for, to, and with girls from Studio 54 (read his case file here, his indictment is on page 6). The felony bribery charge: he solicited or accepted sex to corrupt or improperly influence his or another official's official duty. Two felony promoting prostitution charges: he both "induced or procured" two women (listed as "Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4") "to engage in sexual activity for hire," and "did knowingly supervise, manage, or control the activities of a prostitute in engaging in sexual activity for hire." The misdemeanor charge: "did solicit Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4 to engage in sexual activity for hire."

That same day, court records show Jacob dismissed Jaworski's contempt of court charge, and directed the Ohio BMV to end the suspension of her drivers license. She entered a no contest plea on her original speeding charge from 2010 and paid a $100 fine.

The Wait

Why did it take so long to get a warrant and search the building after so many complaints?

"It was a matter of being able to access the facility in order to get evidence of a crime," says Bedford Police Chief Kris Nietert. Multiple calls about a prostitution ring don't give the police enough evidence for a judge to sign off on a search warrant (which would have likely gone to Judge Jacob, a patron of the business in question, for approval assuming police didn't already know he was involved; a county judge can sign off on warrants, too).

"Those calls don't mean anything unless you can substantiate them," says Nietert. "On those early calls, the big issue was you couldn't get these people -- you can call up and tell me your wife's a prostitute and that's great, but I can't prove that. Without her coming in and saying for herself that it's the case or without me being able to visually see it occur, all I have is hearsay, and we can't do anything with that. That's why it took so long to get to where we're at, because we couldn't substantiate the operation."

Police officers don't have the benefit of hindsight, like reporters looking into the case have, when doing their job, he says.

"You would be able to do it now, there's a lot of things we could substantiate, now, that six or eight months ago--when you're looking through that rearview mirror, it's easy to say hey, why the heck did this take so long," he says. "But again, go back to the county (Jimmy Dimora) case. Why did it it take them three years? You have all these things going on, people telling you stuff, you have got to substantiate it. That's why these cases take so long."

Of course, the complaints turned out to be correct, and there was much more going on than some rub-and-tugs. One source says a Bedford detective came to their house after the September raid, holding the same complaint that Scene obtained filed more than a year earlier, asking for them to elaborate for the first time about what was known.

"He's like, 'I'm sorry that we've come so late,'" the source says. "Like, give me a break, I already know everything, I've had people from downtown (the county and feds) come to my work."

It's unclear what really instigated the investigation or what really prompted the financial investigators from the larger agencies to swoop in during 2013. But Nietert made the call when he realized his department didn't have the resources and expertise needed to fully investigate.

About The Author

Doug Brown

Doug Brown is a staff writer at Scene with a passion for public records laws and investigative reporting. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., he has an M.A. in journalism from the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a B.A. in political science from Hiram College. Prior to joining Scene,...
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