TRUMBULL COUNTY Niles man sentenced for bribery
He could have received up to 33 years in prison.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A man who attempted to bribe the Niles police chief must serve three months in an alternative sentencing program and three months' house arrest.
Judge John Stuard of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court sentenced Michael Malvasi, who is known as Mugsy, after a sentencing hearing Wednesday.
Because Malvasi, 72, of Bellvue Avenue, Niles, is on 11 daily prescriptions for a heart ailment, the judge said he could report to North Eastern Ohio Community Alternative Sentencing Program today.
The judge also placed Malvasi on probation for five years and ordered him not to enter any type of gambling facility during that time.
Malvasi could have received up to 33 years in prison.
Recommendation: Charles Morrow, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, recommended that Malvasi be sentenced to prison.
"We need to send a message that if you try to bribe a police officer you are going to prison," Morrow said.
He noted that Malvasi not only asked Niles Police Chief Bruce Simeone not to close down his gambling operation, but also to shut down other gambling operations. Morrow declined to say if he would appeal the judge's decision.
"This case is not about gambling. It's about bribery and conspiracy," Judge Stuard said. "This is about the bribery of a public official."
Malvasi pleaded guilty in October to a charge of conspiracy to engage in corrupt activity and five counts of bribery.
Agents with the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Identification worked with Simeone on the case.
"We all live in the Mahoning Valley, which is a wonderful place to live," Judge Stuard said. "We also live in an area were there has been a prevailing acceptance of gambling. But you approached a public official and asked him not to do his job."
Considerations: The judge, however, also noted that prosecutors did not show that Malvasi was tied to organized crime.
"If there would have been evidence of organized crime, then there would be no question in my mind that you would be sent to prison," Judge Stuard said.
The judge also pointed out that Dr. Walter Paladino of Youngstown testified that Malvasi has severe heart problems and is in poor health. The judge noted that Malvasi has not had a criminal record.
Attys. James Fredericka and Gerald Gold, who represent Malvasi, said their client is remorseful.
Malvasi also told the judge that his actions "embarrassed himself and his family."
Malvasi, who was in the courtroom with several relatives, declined to comment after the hearing.
Morrow said that in August 1998, Malvasi and his co-defendant, Albert Tuminello, 73, of Niles, contacted Simeone and asked him to protect Malvasi's gambling operation. Simeone contacted agents with the FBI and BCI, Morrow said.
The FBI had Simeone wear a wiretap device so conversations among him, Malvasi and Tuminello could be recorded.
Morrow said that five attempts to bribe the chief were recorded, and about $2,500 was given to Simeone.
Tuminello pleaded guilty last year to a charge of complicity to commit bribery. He is on two years' probation.