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Ex-city official reports to prison



Published: Sat, February 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



With good time, release could come in November 2007.

WARREN -- James Lapmardo, who took contractor's bribes as Warren's building inspector, is now serving his nearly 31/2-year federal prison sentence.

Thursday afternoon, Lapmardo, 49, formerly of Perkinswood Drive, checked into the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton in rural Columbiana County. On Nov. 22, 2004, U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells sentenced him to 41 months in prison.

He was also fined $7,500 and, after prison, must serve three years' supervised release and participate in outpatient substance abuse programs. The judge said the victim impact was widespread -- throughout Warren.

With good time, Lapmardo could be released in November 2007.

As building inspector, Lapmardo used roughly $100,000 in contractors' bribes to gamble, vacation in Aruba and buy stocks.

Lapmardo pleaded guilty April 22, 2004, to racketeering acts, including extortion. A federal grand jury indicted him Dec. 2, 2003, charging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, three violations of the Hobbs Act (extortion) and conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act.

The remaining four counts were dismissed at sentencing, as was a forfeiture count that sought roughly $100,000 he extorted from contractors.

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Ann C. Rowland and Matthew B. Kall, assistant U.S. attorneys.

Kall said Lapmardo, once indicted, provided full and valuable information to the FBI and federal prosecutors. Lapmardo's plea agreement includes a provision that requires cooperation with the government if needed for other prosecutions.

Lapmardo retired from his Warren job under disability in October 2000.

Prison programs

Elkton, a low-security facility on 320 acres, opened in August 1997. It houses 1,900 inmates at the main facility and 570 inmates at the adjacent satellite, said Dan Dunne, Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington, D.C.

The inmates are fed military-recipe meals.

After an orientation period, inmates at Elkton work. The pay range is 12 to 40 cents per hour for general institution jobs, such as sanitation (housing unit orderly), grounds maintenance, food service and laundry worker.

The pay range for other work is 23 cents to $1.15 per hour.

Elkton has a UNICOR (federal prison industries) data services factory. It provides document conversion services on roughly 50,000 pages per week of documents for electronic publishing for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Dunne said the factory is large and open, allowing easy visibility for inmate supervision. The atmosphere is clean and professional in appearance.

Inmates are thoroughly trained and have a clear understanding of production expectations. The environment closely resembles that of a business one would find in any community, Dunne said.

Inmates learn how to take pride in their work and accept responsibility for their actions, he said.

Elkton also has a UNICOR recycling factory with a work force of seven full-time staff and about 220 inmates. Elkton recycles scrap equipment that is furnished by various state and federal agencies as well as by the private sector.

The scrap includes such items as CPUs, monitors, printers and so forth. UNICOR guarantees that none of the material received at Elkton will end up in a landfill.

Elkton receives on average roughly 500,000 pounds of material each month. With three separate factories on the institution grounds, Elkton Recycling is well positioned to accommodate more business in the future, Dunne said.

The Psychology Services Department at the prison provides mental health and substance abuse services to the inmate population.

Substance abuse problems

Lapmardo's Boardman lawyer, Albert A. Palombaro, said at sentencing that his client has substance abuse problems, alcohol and marijuana, and may be drug dependent. The lawyer said Lapmardo has been treated for a pancreas ailment that included alcohol withdrawal and delirium tremors.

Kall has said if Lapmardo is enrolled in a treatment program, successful completion of it will make him eligible to reduce his sentence by one year.

Lapmardo's 26-page indictment, meanwhile, shows the corruption -- bribery, extortion and money laundering -- existed from the early 1990s through mid-July 2000. The scheme included at least six contractors.




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