Lordi's defense team said it needs an explanation so it can file another appeal.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A judge has denied Frank Lordi's request to vacate his 1999 conviction for theft in office, and Lordi's lawyers want to know why.
Lordi, a former Mahoning County commissioner, started serving an 18-month prison sentence in June. A common pleas court jury had found him guilty of having county employees do political work on county time. He was allowed to remain free while his appeals were pending.
Lordi's attorneys had filed a motion asking Visiting Judge Mark K. Wiest to vacate the conviction based on what they say is the late discovery of new evidence that was not available during his trial.
Judge Wiest denied that motion late last week, though his written order did not give a reason for the decision. He had previously denied Lordi's request to be released early from prison on shock probation.
Seeking explanation: Attys. Max Kravitz and Susan Gellman, both of Columbus, filed documents Monday in common pleas court asking Judge Wiest to explain his reasons for refusing the vacate the conviction. Gellman said they need the explanation so they can appeal Judge Wiest's ruling to the 7th District Court of Appeals.
She said the new evidence is an affidavit from Steve Berry, former Mahoning County chief building inspector, that allegedly refutes the trial testimony of two witnesses who testified against Lordi.
Gellman and Kravitz have also asked the U.S. District Court to order Lordi's release from prison, arguing that he is being illegally held because his constitutional rights were violated during the trial.