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YOUNGSTOWN Judge drops lawyer's charges



Published: Sat, November 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former Youngstown Municipal Court magistrate said she always believed justice would win.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Nearly two months after the federal government indicted her on accusations of fixing cases, it has now decided that it will not prosecute Atty. Lynn Sfara Bruno.

Sfara Bruno, 41, of Southwoods Boulevard, Boardman, was indicted by a federal grand jury in September on charges of extortion and conspiracy to extortion. She pleaded innocent, and her trial was scheduled for Dec. 4.

Indictment dismissed: But the indictment was dismissed Thursday in a short entry signed by Judge Kathleen M. O'Malley of U.S. District Court, Cleveland, and U.S. Attorney Emily M. Sweeney. It did not give a reason for the dismissal, and Atty. Thomas J. Gruscinski, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, could not be reached to comment.

In a written statement released by her lawyers, Sfara Bruno said she is elated at the move.

"As a lawyer and former Youngstown Municipal Court magistrate, I never lost faith that justice would prevail," she said.

She credited her family and friends, and her attorneys, John McCaffrey and Patrick McLaughlin, for helping her through the matter.

"Lynn Bruno has professed her innocence from the beginning," McCaffrey said. "The dismissal of the indictment is her vindication."

Accusation: Sfara Bruno was accused of bribing former Mahoning County prosecutor James A. Philomena to fix DUI cases. The government said she gave Philomena cash, gifts and campaign contributions in exchange for his directing his assistant prosecutors to dismiss or reduce DUI charges for her clients.

"Philomena, the convicted perjurer, never had credibility. It's a shame it took the government so long to recognize the fact," McCaffrey said.

Philomena has pleaded guilty to both federal and state charges related to fixing cases while he was in office. He has served about two years of a four-year federal prison term.

After that, he faces an additional two years in a state prison on a bribery and perjury conviction.

bjackson@vindy.com




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