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FEDERAL COURT Ruling reduces prison time for ex-investigator



Published: Sat, April 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The federal inmate could be out of prison by late summer instead of 2007.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- A federal judge has shortened Russell J. Saadey's prison time by allowing 15 months that were tacked on to now run concurrently with his original 55 months.

The net effect is that Saadey will likely be sent to a halfway house by late summer to serve the final six months of his sentence, his lawyer said. Saadey's original prison release date was set for May 21, 2007, which would have put him in a halfway facility in November 2006.

On Friday, Saadey, 47, of Austintown, was resentenced in U.S. District Court. His Canfield lawyer, Brian P. Kopp, was in court, but Saadey attended the hearing via phone from the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Fla.

Saadey, also known as Champ, once served as an investigator for James A. Philomena, Mahoning County prosecutor until the end of 1996. Philomena received federal and state prison sentences for case fixing and remains locked up.

Court of Appeals

In January, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed one count in Saadey's multicount conviction that included racketeering. A three-judge panel concluded that the government offered no evidence to show that Saadey aided and abetted a public official in extorting money from a man to reduce criminal charges.

The appellate court remanded the case back to U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. O'Malley for resentencing.

Kopp had argued that Saadey, as a private individual, could not be prosecuted under the public officials' "color of official right" contained in the Hobbs Act (extortion). The appellate judges said the government acknowledged that Saadey was not a public official at the time of the alleged attempted extortion -- he had already left the prosecutor's office. Judge O'Malley had earlier denied a motion to dismiss the count, saying Saadey had masqueraded as a public official.

Changes

On Friday, Judge O'Malley did not alter the 55-month sentence she originally imposed, saying it is appropriate. The judge said Saadey's actions disrupted the criminal justice system in Mahoning County.

She did, however, shorten his time by allowing 15 months added to the sentence by U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus on an unrelated gun conviction to run concurrent.

At the time Judge Economus sentenced Saadey, the federal sentencing guidelines required that the time run consecutive to his 55 months. Since then, the guidelines have changed and are no longer mandatory but advisory in nature.

Saadey, via phone, apologized to Judge O'Malley and his family. His wife, three children and a brother were in the gallery.

"I'm ready to go home, your honor," Saadey said.

Thomas J. Gruscinski, an assistant U.S. attorney, agreed with Kopp that the 15 months could now be allowed to run concurrent. The federal prosecutor asked that the 55-month sentence remain but offered no opinion on the 15-month sentence, instead deferring to Judge O'Malley.

meade@vindy.com




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