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Former Sheriff launches campaign Web site



Published: Fri, February 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The platform includes forming an ethics review committee.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Wedged between two former Mahoning County sheriffs now in prison was Edward P. Nemeth, whose Web site declares he'd like to be sheriff again.

Nemeth for Sheriff is at www.ytown.com/sheriff.

The filing deadline for candidates is early January 2004. The Democratic primary is March 2004.

The Web site has been up only a few days. It shows a sheriff's department cruiser, several pictures of Nemeth, his platform and a list of his accomplishments. The platform includes establishing an ethics review committee that would include the press and federal and state law enforcement to review vice-related reports and complaints.

"Mahoning County has been victim to the ravages of organized crime for as long as anyone can remember," the platform states. "The problem lies with vice-related crimes."

Nemeth, 55, is owner/operator of a computer and Internet service company. The Nemeth Campaign Committee address is his home in Boardman.

He served as sheriff from January 1985 through December 1996.

Others jailed

During that time, Michael S. Terlecky, a lieutenant and the head of Nemeth's vice unit, pleaded guilty to violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and received one year in prison. The government said Terlecky took monthly mob bribes ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 and allowed gambling to flourish.

Nemeth's predecessor was James A. Traficant Jr., who went on to serve 171/2 years in the U.S. House of Representatives before being convicted of racketeering and tax crimes. Traficant is serving an eight-year prison term in Pennsylvania.

Nemeth's successor, after a bitterly fought race, was Phil Chance. Chance didn't get to complete his term after a jury found him guilty of racketeering crimes in July 1999. Chance is serving a six-year prison term in Michigan.

Randall A. Wellington, the incumbent sheriff since September 1999, said Thursday that he intends to run again. Another likely candidate is sheriff's Capt. James M. Lewandowski, who served as interim sheriff after Chance resigned.

After Nemeth lost to Chance, he backed Wellington for sheriff.

"I heard rumors that he would run, didn't know it for sure," Wellington, 69, said. "The water is warm, let him jump in."

Testimony

Nemeth, who could not be reached Thursday, will have to confront during his race for sheriff what's been said about him in federal court and FBI affidavits. Lenny Strollo, the mob-boss-turned-government-witness, testified against Chance and made references to Nemeth. Strollo said he threw his financial support to Chance because the relationship with Nemeth had deteriorated.

Strollo testified that the relationship changed in 1988, after he and Terlecky were indicted. Strollo and Terlecky went to prison in 1990.

Craig S. Morford, an assistant U.S. attorney, said during Chance's trial that once Strollo was released from prison in the fall of 1991, Nemeth didn't interfere with Strollo's gambling operations, but declined to raid Strollo's competitors, feeling the "obligation was over."

Also during the trial, then-FBI Special Agent Robert G. Kroner Jr. testified that when Strollo and Terlecky were convicted in 1990, they refused to cooperate against Nemeth.

What Strollo said

Strollo, though, in his new role as government witness in 1999, testified that he paid $5,000 a month to Terlecky and said the money was split among Terlecky, Nemeth and Chief Deputy Frank Carbon. Carbon resigned from the sheriff's department just before Chance took office in January 1997.

"I can't say with authority that [Strollo] never got money into my campaign -- I'd be a fool to think that -- but he never gave any to me and obviously, I didn't play ball with him so he had to go someplace else," Nemeth said in July 1999, shortly after Chance's conviction.

meade@vindy.com




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