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Staffers' pasts become issue



Published: Wed, August 31, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The convicted felons served time and are rehabilitated, Jay Williams and Sen. Robert Hagan say.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The volunteer staffs of two Youngstown mayoral candidates each include a former elected city official with a felony conviction that forced him out of office.

Also, one mayoral candidate has a criminal record.

Patrick V. Kerrigan, a former Youngstown Municipal Court judge, is helping the campaign of state Sen. Robert F. Hagan, the Democratic mayoral nominee.

A federal judge sentenced Kerrigan in March 1998 to 2 1/2 years in prison on two counts of extortion related to his office and attempting to influence a grand jury witness.

Herman Hill, a former Youngstown 3rd Ward councilman, is a volunteer on the campaign of Jay Williams, who is running as an independent candidate in the mayoral race.

Hill was sentenced in Mahoning Common Pleas Court in December 1997 for theft in office. Hill spent 10 days in a halfway house for using a city credit card to withdraw more than $2,400 to buy a computer for personal use and then used a bogus receipt to cover the withdrawal.

Crime at top of list

Hagan and Williams say controlling the city's crime rate is one of their top priorities and they are proposing changes to the criminal justice system. Hagan said the area has a "dysfunctional" criminal justice system, a system in which Kerrigan served from 1988 to 1998.

Joe Louis Teague, who also is running as an independent for mayor, was convicted of misdemeanors -- resisting arrest, failure to comply with a police order, drunken driving, and participating in an illegal dice game -- between 1974 and 1980, and sentenced to serve time in city jail, according to Vindicator files.

Teague said he was targeted by certain police officers during that time.

Hagan and Williams said the felons who are their campaign volunteers have paid their debt to society, are rehabilitated and are trying to better the city.

Their views on the matter

"I have no problem with anyone helping me who wants to help," Hagan said. Kerrigan also is a lifelong friend, Hagan said.

"He's been a judge; he went to jail, and he's getting his doctorate in criminal justice," Hagan said of Kerrigan. "He's got all kinds of views from inside and outside."

Hagan objected to a reporter asking about Kerrigan's involvement with his mayoral campaign, saying it is part of a vendetta the newspaper will "carry forever from the publisher on down to discredit every move I make. It's not fair media."

As long as volunteers agree and support his platforms, Williams said he welcomes them to his campaign. Williams said he doesn't do criminal background checks on all of his volunteers although he acknowledged he is well aware of Hill's conviction.

"Wrong is wrong and crime is crime, but if someone paid their debt to society and is rehabilitated, then that's fine," Williams said. "Everyone on my campaign knows what I stand for, and they have to believe in the message and subscribe to my ethics and morality."

Maggy Lorenzi, also running for mayor as an independent, said she has no problem with Kerrigan or Hill working for candidates.

"But who you have work with you is a reflection of you," she said.

skolnick@vindy.com




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