Nearly 16 months after leaving office amid a criminal investigation, former Sheriff Gerald McFaul was charged today with two felony counts of theft in office and a misdemeanor ethics offense.

The longest serving sheriff in Cuyahoga County history could spend up to 10 years in prison. The felony charges each carry a prison sentence of one to five years.

The charges came in the form of a criminal information, which generally means the defendant is cooperating with prosecutors and plans to plead guilty. A Plain Dealer investigation last year sparked a probe of McFaul’s 32 years in office.

McFaul,76, of Strongsville, will be arraigned next week in Common Pleas Court.

His lawyer, John Climaco, released a statement on McFaul’s behalf shortly after the charges were filed.

The statement said: “Today, former Sheriff Gerald T. McFaul following 43 years of distinguished public service to the Greater Cleveland community including nine years as a Cleveland City Councilman and 33 years as the nine term elected Cuyahoga County Sheriff, sadly and regretfully accepted full responsibility for his personal mistakes. In accepting responsibility, Sheriff McFaul agreed to plead guilty to two third-degree felonies and one Ethics Violation. Sheriff McFaul will have no further comment.”

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