DiGiacomo refused to plead and demanded a trial, then changed his mind.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- An Austintown man faces a year in prison after admitting a role in operating a cocaine network in the Mahoning Valley.
Mark DiGiacomo, 39, of New Road, pleaded guilty Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to one count of cocaine trafficking.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed a count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Assistant Prosecutor Terry Grenga recommended that DiGiacomo be sentenced to 12 months in prison, and said she will not object to him being released on shock probation after serving at least 30 days.
Judge Jack Durkin ordered that a background check be done on DiGiacomo before sentencing. DiGiacomo was permitted to remain free on bond in the meantime.
DiGiacomo was one of seven men indicted nearly a year ago for operating what authorities have said was a major drug network, selling some 330 pounds of cocaine in the area over the past decade, mostly in the city's suburbs and on the West Side.
Robert Treharn of Champion, Dean Valley of Youngstown and Jonathan Brown of Youngstown have all pleaded guilty. Shawn Willis of Poland, and John Orosz and Donald Lewis, both of Youngstown, are set for trial later this month.
They are charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and cocaine trafficking.
Changed his mind
Just before the hearing was to start, DiGiacomo told his lawyer, Mark Lavelle, that he no longer wished to plead guilty.
"He thought that perhaps we could beat this if we went to trial," Lavelle said.
Grenga then asked Judge Durkin to revoke DiGiacomo's bond and order him put in jail until he could be tried with the others. While the lawyers were arguing that issue, DiGiacomo again changed his mind and agreed to the plea deal.
Judge Durkin had not yet made a decision on the bond issue when DiGiacomo opted for the plea.
Lavelle called Grenga's move vindictive, saying she did it only because DiGiacomo had spurned the plea agreement at the 11th hour.
But Grenga said she did it because DiGiacomo has a history of not showing up for court appearances and she wanted to ensure that he'd be there for trial.