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BOARDMAN Ex-county official targeted by intruder



Published: Tue, May 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



No one was injured in the shooting.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- A former Mahoning County tax investigator and state examiner was nearly shot in a confrontation with an intruder in his home.

Police responded to the Youngstown-Poland Road home of Thomas R. Onesti late Sunday night after Onesti called 911 and told the dispatcher that someone had broken into his home and taken a shot at him.

Onesti told officers responding to the call that he had let his four dogs outside earlier in the evening, and when he opened the door leading to his garage to bring the dogs in, he noticed someone standing on the opposite side of the garage. The person was dressed all in black, and wore a black ski mask and black gloves, Onesti said.

Reports say Onesti heard a male voice yell "Hold it," but Onesti ran back into the house, slamming the door behind him, and into his bedroom, where he retrieved a handgun.

Onesti told officers he went back toward the garage, armed with the gun, to investigate. When he reached the kitchen area, he saw the intruder pointing a small silver revolver at him, reports say.

Shots: Onesti said he fired one shot at the intruder and heard the intruder's gun fire before the man ran out of the house. Onesti was not injured, and officers found nothing to suggest that the intruder had been shot. Police did find one spent round and a fragment of a round in the kitchen.

Investigating officers later noticed that Onesti's telephone lines had been freshly cut, and the wires to an outside security light had also been cut. Onesti told the officers that his initial attempt to call 911 was unsuccessful because the phones were dead. He used a cellular phone to make the call.

Background: Onesti resigned in February 1986 as a Mahoning County tax investigator. Two months later he was given a suspended jail sentence on a charge of receiving stolen property, a felony.

State Auditor Thomas E. Ferguson's office hired Onesti in March 1987 as an examiner with the special audit department in Columbus. In 1989 he came back to work for Mahoning County as compliance officer-prevailing wage coordinator for all contracts involving the engineer's office.

Onesti later filed a motion in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court asking that the court erase his felony conviction and seal all records involved in the case. Atty. John F. Shultz, Onesti's attorney at the time, said the record was eventually expunged.




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