Cleveland arson detective, real estate developer accused in property scheme appear in court
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cleveland arson detective and a real estate developer each pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that accuse them of forging documents to steal two properties from the family of a homicide victim.
Damon Johnson, a 25-year veteran of the city’s fire department, and Arthur Fayne, were each given a $2,500 personal bond. Neither spoke during their arraignment before Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Joan Synenberg.
Their case was assigned to Judge Michael Donnelly.
Johnson, Fayne and Fayne’s secretary, Carolyn Swoope, are each charged with forgery and identity fraud. Johnson is also charged with grand theft, and Swoope is charged with tampering with records.
Swoope was arraigned Monday and also give a $2,500 bond.
Fayne is the principal of Business Development Concepts, Inc. and managing director of Community Integrated Services, and was the lead developer behind the oft-delayed revitalization of the East Side Market.
Former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson sat with Fayne’s wife on Tuesday outside the arraignment room, which is closed to the public. Johnson told cleveland.com that he has known Fayne since the 1980s when both worked for Councilwoman Fannie Lewis, and will support Fayne with “whatever he needs.”
Damon Johnson served as a key witness in the January trial of his nephew James Johnson, who is accused in the 2016 killings of his cousin, Rashaad Bandy, and Bandy’s roommate, Brandon James, during a robbery at the Archer Apartments in downtown Cleveland.
That trial ended with Judge Kathleen Sutula declaring a mistrial after it came out that Damon Johnson was under investigation for a real estate deal involving property once owned by Bandy.
According to a police report, Bandy’s aunt, Gloria Bandy, told police that Damon Johnson, who is her nephew, used her identification to forge paperwork in her name to sell two properties on Cleveland’s East Side for a combined $40,000.
Records show that the two parcels of land, on St. Clair Avenue in the city’s Collinwood neighborhood, transferred from Rashaad Bandy to Gloria Bandy beginning in December 2015, about a month before the killing.
The quit-claim deed did not finalize until June 2016, records show.
The property was again transferred via quit-claim deed in November 2017 from Gloria Bandy to Fayne’s company, Community Integrated Services, records show. The sale price is listed in records as $175,000.
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