The chief wore a device to record his conversations with two men who tried to bribe him.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- A few years ago, some of Police Chief Bruce Simeone's relatives believed he was taking bribes.
On Friday, Simeone was recognized with a certificate from the FBI for his efforts to bust the men who tried to bribe him.
The certificate honored him for his involvement in a sting operation that led to the arrests of two Niles men on bribery charges.
John Kane, resident agent in charge of the Youngstown FBI office, said the office presents few such certificates.
In 2000, Simeone, who has been with the department since 1972 and chief since 1996, received the Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award for 2000 from the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
What happened: Authorities said two men, Michael Malvasi and Albert Tuminello, both of Niles, first approached the chief in August 1999 trying to give him money to ignore their gambling operation in the Silver Nugget bar on Pratt Street.
The operation involved sports betting sheets throughout Trumbull County, authorities said.
Simeone reported the incident to the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. He accepted five payments totaling $2,650 from the two men over five months to build the case against them.
The FBI had Simeone wear a device so conversations among him, Malvasi and Tuminello could be recorded.
Officials have said that Simeone's participation in the sting prompted some in the community and some of his own relatives to believe the chief was on the take.
Simeone said the recent investigations into gambling operations have helped rid the city of similar operations.
"It's because of cooperation among agencies that it's happened," the chief said.
Other investigations: Kane said the investigation was conducted by the Corruption Task Force, the same group that's been taking records from some Warren city offices over the last several months.
In November, the FBI, BCI and officers from Niles, Lordstown and Warren police departments searched the homes and vehicles of several area residents believed to be connected to a gambling operation being run out of the General Motors plant in Lordstown.
No arrests have been made. Kane said the investigation is ongoing.
Sentencing: Judge John Stuard of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court sentenced Malvasi, 73, last week to three months in an alternative sentencing program and three months' house arrest.
He could have received up to 33 years in prison.
The judge took Malvasi's heart ailment into consideration in the sentence and placed him on probation for five years. He ordered him not to enter any type of gambling facility during that time.
Tuminello, 73, pleaded guilty last year to a charge of complicity to commit bribery. He's on two years' probation.